Stephen Shore, U.S. 97 (21 July, 1973), South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, USA. From Stephen Shore: A Road Trip Journal

Shore and Parr among top bankable photographers

Confidence is growing the modern and contemporary photography market, say London analysts Art Tactic

The photography market has always lagged behind painting and sculpture when it comes to commanding the highest prices. Nevertheless, works by established photographers, including Phaidon artists such as Stephen Shore, Edward Weston, Martin Parr and Nobuyoshi Araki, appear to be undervalued, accordig to a recent survey of industry insiders.


A's Lovers (1997) by Nobuyoshi Araki
A's Lovers (1997) by Nobuyoshi Araki


The London-based art market analysis firm, Art Tactic, say confidence in the modern and contemporary photography market has increased by 9.2% since May 2012, with 92% of experts surveyed saying they believe the modern photography market will go up within the next six months, while a further 8% think it will remain static.

The contemporary photography market receives a more cautious forecast, with 34% saying the market will rise and 66% saying it will remain around current levels. Tellingly, no one predicts a slump in either sector.

Art Tactic - founded by former JP Morgan banker Anders Petterson - adds that the largest increase in confidence comes, typically, at the top end, with pictures priced $100,000 and above getting the most secure ratings, while photos selling above $10,000 also get a solid vote of confidence.

So, whom should putative collectors go for? When it comes to bankable names, the analysts list their top ten modern photographers Phaidon artists Josef Sudek, Edward Weston and Manuel Alvarez Bravo, alongside Man Ray, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Garry Winogrand, Robert Mapplethorpe and Diane Arbus.


Martin Parr, Ocean Dome (1996), Miyazaki, Japan, from the series Small World
Martin Parr, Ocean Dome (1996), Miyazaki, Japan, from the series Small World


Its top 10 contemporary photographers include Phaidon's own Stephen Shore, Sebastiao Salgado, Nobuyoshi Araki and Martin Parr, as well as Edward Burtynsky, Peter Beard, Sally Mann, Philip-Lorca Dicorcia, Simon Norfolk, and Robert Polidori.

As with any market survey, buyers should beware of anonymous industry insiders talking up their own stock. Also Art Tactic's distinctions between eras seems a little impressionistic, rather than strictly historical. Eggleston (born in '35) and Mapplethorpe (born in '46) are ranked as modern, while Araki (born in '40) and Beard (born in '38) are in the contemporary category.

Still, it certainly seems that this report, coupled with others, suggests that the market for fine photography is becoming a wiser investment as the years pass.

Read the full report here, and failing a $100,000 auction purchase, consider instead  our collector's editions by Stephen Shore, Martin ParrRene BurriElliott Erwitt and others. - great for ostentatious Christmas gifts and long-term investment alike. Meanwhile, our fine photography books by Stephen Shore, Nobuyoshi Araki, and others, are bound to enrich your life culturally, market trends aside.