Note: This post, The Décor Market: What Is It for Photography, is a guest post by Diane H. Wong. You can learn more about Diane at the end of this post.
The Décor Market: What Is It for Photography?
Sigh! The Décor market is by far the biggest market there is for photographs presumed to be art. And it may very well be the biggest hurdle we as fine art photographers have to overcome. Note it is the biggest market there is for fine art photographs at all. However, lots of people think it is.
What Is The Décor Market?
The Décor market consists of a number of small tributaries such as furniture sellers, interior decorators and the like. There are also one or two chain stores selling huge, upholstery-coordinated color photographs by individual photographers. But the great expansive ocean in this market is the Art Fair, Art Festival, Street Fair; pick the synonym/variation of your preference. This is the heart of the décor market and the place where a great deal of eye-catching but less than inspired photography goes to fade in the sun.
Photography as an Art
The seldom spoken reality of the art world is that the vast majority of art, while it may be sold as art, is purchased as décor. You may get upset when you hear potential buyers talk about whether or not your image will go well with the couch, but that is the way of the world. With particular reference to fine art photography, the public sees what we do as décor, and second class décor at that because it is only a photograph: as opposed to painting, sculpture, etc. And this is our fault because we haven’t bothered to educate them. In fact, we have sinned both by omission and by sitting silent, allowing pretenders to stand in our stead and speak for us, in very loud voices.
So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Here is what the public truly believes a fine art photograph to be…
A LARGE, over-saturated, gaudy, formula-composed, quite literal, sunrise/sunset “picture” of a national park or popular vacation spot; or perhaps ballet slippers, or a grizzly bear catching a fish, or the ever-popular vase of flowers, often printed on canvas and stretched over wood, or stuffed into an equally gaudy carved wooden frame fresh from China, signed in gold ink right on the surface of the image and packaged with the latest absurd fad, a “certificate of authenticity”.
Now, that may not be what YOU think a fine art photography is, but it is absolutely what the public knows it to be with complete certainty. Why does the public know this? Because we allow them to know it. And because they attend huge outdoor and indoor art fairs by the millions all over the country where they are told this is what fine art photography looks like. Most importantly, YOU and I are not there to tell them anything different.
Place of Photography at Art Fairs
This is not to say there is no good and genuine fine art photography to be found at art fairs. I have seen a little and I’m sure there will always be some. But as with the previously discussed number of collectors of fine art photography in the world, the amount of good photographic work at art fairs is sufficiently small as to be irrelevant for our purposes. If you have never been to an art fair, you must go. Not simply to see for yourself if my analysis is correct but to gain an overall impression of art fairs. This you will find useful later on to more readily understand an upcoming post in which I will talk about why fine art photographers should absolutely never participate in these Fairs/Festivals. (Yes, I have an alternative to be presented down the line.)
Years ago I attended a large outdoor art fair in the city of Atlanta. I vividly recall a lonely photographer whose B&W work was really quite nice. Nonetheless, he couldn’t have been more ignored if he’d been selling communicable diseases. A few tents away, a person with whom I happened to be acquainted (we taught in the same school of photography) was selling the most atrocious, badly made color prints in the genre of the aforementioned ballet slippers and flower pots, as quickly as she could stuff the money into her pockets. She made thousands that day. To my knowledge, the other poor photographer didn’t make a dime. (It is important to understand the disturbing fact that the mere presence of the good photographer at that art fair lent a certain legitimacy to the work of the bad photographer. This is a genuine concern because being there is conceivably worse than not being there to defend ourselves at all.)
The décor market is huge. It is strong. And the photographers selling in it are making significant incomes while at the same time, educating a large percentage of the population to believe that what they do is fine art photography and by inference, what you are doing, is not! After all, they have certificates of authenticity!
The Bottom Line
Unless your work fits in with what is sold at art fairs; in other words, it IS décor and not fine art photography, this market is not for you. And if you attempt to sell there, you too will most likely be made to feel as if you are selling a disease. An art fair is not a market for real fine art photography and art fairs have become counterproductive in the extreme for the advancement of fine art photography. The only way to put an end to this grotesque misrepresentation of fine art photography is to educate the public and to do a better job of promoting real fine art photography in a new market created by and for, real fine art photographers.
About the author: Diane H. Wong is an experienced wedding photographer. Moreover, she likes describing her perfect ideas writing articles for write my essay service. Besides, she is good at wedding reception decoration.
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