Photo collections

We see collections (items) in museums at big companies and in the homes of photo lovers.

Some photo collections have a similar history : formed, neglected, stored in banana boxes, forgotten, re-found and rebound.

When it comes to collectors, we recognise : dealers/investors, collectionneurs/donateurs (public, institutional and private collections) and photography lovers.

In 2007 I learned the basics of managing a photo archive (cultural heritage) and I learned about the old photo types. Highly fascinating. It is with interest and love that I am working on my current job : to organise  a corporate photo collection. It is not very old but it does contain glass plate negatives (!) and it is worth preserving. The photos are records of past activities and events and they show the evolution of the company. The project involves the tasks that are linked to a ‘serious’ or historic collection :  the sorting, scanning, describing and tagging (outsourced to a freelance journalist) and properly archiving of the negatives and digital files. (A job that takes time and resources). The creation of a collection ‘catalogue’ and the disclosure are to be discussed next year.

From corporate to private : last week I purchased my very first tintype photographs. They are the fifth and sixth items of what is to become the famous private JDH photo collection 😉  My first items are two vintage photos in vintages frames and a photo book given to me.  The fourth item an album with cartes de visite.

Here’s an example of a Tintype I found on wikipedia


I will share my Tintypes and some info on the tintype process in a later post. But here’s already a very good video :

Ageless Snapshots


I aim to form a collection that reflects the main innovative photo types in the history of photography, but I could well shift my focus in time… No high ambitions, but aiming to bridge history with present while at the same time giving in to my taste, appetite and juggling with budget (a budget being nothing to zero, as fine art and contemporary photographs are so.000,00 expensive these days!) There is no way I will be able to buy a Anton Corbijn or a Koos Breukel (Dutch master in portraiture).  But hey, wait a minute, I was fortunate to have been photographed by Breukel at the masterclass I attended in January 2008. I just realised that the print that was made then should also become a part of my collection, now adding up to seven items.

Luckily everything is collectible and there are many photographs out there of unknown yet talented or emerging photographers. Besides, thematic amateur photos are intriguing too.

Soon I will learn more about collections and collecting photography. Looking very much forward to lectures at Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam : | Lectures collecting photography at FOAM.

The photo collections that I saw few years ago and had an impact on me : Manfred Heiting (portraits and still life) and La Collection Ordóñez Falcón (une passion partagée).

The photo collections that I saw/had my attention last week : De Nederlandse Bank/historisch archief (uitnodiging tentoonstelling 40 jaar DNB – de bouw van de bank), Spaarnestad Photo (a visit is due), Life+google.

I love the fact that the historic archives are being digitised and shared publicly online.

To round off, just some examples of collections:

A must see ! The Naylor collection, incl. images of antique camera’s – PDF

When he began his collecting, Jack Naylor concentrated on cameras and photographs, but he quickly expanded to all manner of ephemera and photographica. Much of the collection was acquired at camera and antique shows, auctions, and yard sales. Many of the items were donated by photographers and inventors of the paraphernalia that supports photography.


In October 1993, Henry M. Buhl purchased a photograph by Alfred Stieglitz of Georgia O’Keeffe’s hands. This photograph would come to be the cornerstone of a private collection that now includes over one thousand images by the medium’s foremost practitioners as well as little-known and emerging artists. Focusing on the theme of the hand, Buhl has gathered images spanning the history of photography, from a photogenic drawing negative made in 1840 by William Henry Fox Talbot to serial Polaroids made in 2002 by Cornelia Parker. The collection also encompasses a comprehensive range of photographic practices, including scientific, journalistic, and fine-art photography, with a strong component of contemporary art.

The Pfeifer collection – PDF

Collection Roland Bonaparte | Photographie et anthropologie – PDF

Museum of contemporary photography

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