— Life —

Investing in Photography is Overtaking Fine Art

David Bowie, @Terry O
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David Bowie with Black Scarf, @Mick Rock, 2002
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David Bowie,  @Terry O
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David Bowie, @Mick Rock, 2002
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This week I marked the passing of David Bowie by listening to his music and watching some of my favorite videos on YouTube, like “Dancing in the Street” with Mick Jagger. As I was reminiscing, I received an email newsletter from the Morrison Hotel Gallery. The Morrison specializes in rock ’n’ roll and sports photography, and the quality of their images is spectacular. I know because I’ve purchased several photographs from them. Today’s email announced the sale of numbered and signed photographs of David Bowie, taken by world class photographers like Terry O’Neill and Mick Rock. The Morrison’s photographs of Bowie span most of his career and represent a variety of candid, studio and concert photographs.

“If I never see the English evergreens… this is all I ever meant, that’s the message that I sent.”

Anyone who came of age in the 70s knows David Bowie is one of our most important cultural icons. A master of reinvention, Bowie used his androgynous look and edgy creativity to change the face of music, art and fashion. Whether he was under the guise of Ziggy Stardust, or the Thin White Duke, Bowie turned the startling into an art form that provoked conversation and inspired other artists to take creative risks. Without Bowie, there wouldn’t have been Madonna or Gaga.

I go to lots of photography galleries–I’ve even had a gallery showing of my photographs–so it bothers me when I hear people say, “I could have taken that photo.” It’s demeaning to the art form, and as a photographer, I’m betting you can’t take that photo. I’ve photographed rock concerts, catapult takeoffs and landings on an aircraft carrier, and I spent two years on the sidelines at the Dallas Cowboy home games. Getting a photograph worthy of publication is difficult. It requires a combination of skill, instincts, knowing a lot about your subject and often, gaining their trust.

As an investment, did you know collecting good photographs is overtaking collecting fine art? If you’re interested in collecting photographs, the Morrison Hotel Gallery, or another reputable dealer, is a great place to start. Inexperienced buyers often worry about what they perceive as the infinite reproducibility of a photograph, but if you think about it, that’s counter intuitive. Most photographers don’t want their work devalued by flooding the market with lots of prints of the same photograph. Reputable dealers will give you a letter of authenticity that includes how many prints were made.

Perhaps you might start by collecting the work of one photographer, similar subject matter, or something like 19th Century daguerreotypes. I lust after Helmut Newton’s work, but alas, he’s out of my price range. Always get your print framed on acid free paper with UV protective glass. The Morrison will frame and ship to you. The most recent photograph I purchased from them I’d seen only on the internet, but it’s even better, hanging on my wall, and my upcoming purchases I’ve seen only online. I’ll give you one guess who the subjects are…

If you’re in New York City, visit the Morrison’s Soho gallery, or the one at the Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles. Sign up for their newsletters, and you’ll receive notices of photographs for sale and invitations to events where you can meet the photographers and sometimes their subjects. You can also browse their online catalog.

David Bowie… Did you know he released “Blackstar,” his last album, on his 69th birthday, two days before his death from cancer? It’s hard to listen to “Blackstar” and not think he’s written his own obituary. “If I never see the English evergreens… this is all I ever meant, that’s the message that I sent.”

Love, Brenda


  • Barbara January 14, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I love photography and photo art, it’s a hobby. People who say they could have gotten the shot have NO idea how many shots you have to take to get that ONE shot! It’s like someone looking at Pollack’s art and saying, “I can splatter paint, too.”
    I would love to see your work, Brenda.

    • 1010 Park Place January 14, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      When I first started taking photographs–seriously–in my early 20s, it took me forever to compose, get my f-stop and shutter speed just right. It was sometimes embarrassing. My first husband would not so jokingly say, “If you’d been there when Ruby shot Oswald, it would already have made the news… (before I was ready to take the shot.)”

  • Mamavalveeta03 January 14, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Beautiful photograph of Bowie! What a gorgeous man. I seem to recall that Terry O’Neill was married to Faye Dunaway, right? I haven’t collected much photography, other than a vintage photo of a fly fisherman in Montauk for my husband. But I certainly appreciate the ART!

    One of these days, over a glass of wine or two, you’ve got to tell me about these many careers…XOX

    • 1010 Park Place January 14, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      Yes! Terry O’Neill was married to Faye Dunaway. He took that great photo of her post winning her Best Actress Oscar. Speaking of a glass of wine or two… I’m sending you an email. XOXOXO

      • Mamavalveeta03 January 18, 2016 at 10:45 pm

        “The thrill of victory?” (Got your email!)

  • Jennifer Connolly January 14, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I would never say, “I could have taken that photograph” of someone else’s work. It take real talent to get a fabulous shot. A talent I lack. I adore looking at fabulous photos as much as paintings. I was so shocked to hear about David! So very sad.
    XX Jennifer

    • 1010 Park Place January 14, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Unfortunately, I think we’d better steel ourselves for more passings. We, our friends and our heroes have entered that age range where we shouldn’t surprised. XOXOX, Brenda

  • Esther Zimmer January 16, 2016 at 3:53 am

    Thanks so much for this, Brenda! David and I collect paintings and have just purchased our first sculpture and have two photographs that we bought in Paris in 2014, which we absolutely love. We were just saying that it’s funny that we both love photography but that it features less on our walls, it’s probably in part to the gallery owner where we bought our first painting becoming a friend! I’d love to see some of your work! Essie xxxx

    • 1010 Park Place January 16, 2016 at 9:43 am

      XOXOX, Brenda

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