While we’ve been collecting for quite a few years now, it wasn’t so long ago that I have forgotten what it was like when we made our first purchases. I remember the process to be a heady mix of excitement and uncertainty, with a strong undercurrent of trying not to make a mistake; the truth is, it’s still a little like that.
Many gallery owners, especially in this environment, seem fixated on how to attract entry level and new collectors. Surprisingly, they often think that low prices and “deals” will make all the difference. While price certainly matters, I think this strategy is generally misguided. What collectors need, especially new and inexperienced ones, is information and education to settle their nerves. Only when a buyer feels comfortable will his/her wallet open.
I was therefore pleased to hear about a new set of lectures being put on this fall by the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago (here). For $100 (and if you’re not willing to invest $100 in your photography education you have no business calling yourself a collector), the In Focus series (here) takes place on four Saturday mornings and covers a wide range of practical topics, with input from the gallery staff and outside experts (collectors, critics, professors, etc.). Even as an experienced collector, if I lived in Chicago, I’d be tempted to attend these discussions, mostly to hear how Edelman and the others view the current market and its opportunities. And of course, we never get tired to talking about photography.
The trick is of course to get people to show up. So Chicagoland readers, make an effort to support this lecture series, as it’s the kind of thing we need to see more of. And for New York area galleries, this is a great example of a low cost/low impact way to invest in your client base to build sales down the road.