San Francisco is a known quantity in the world of photography. The city is home to major institutions that have long supported the medium—like Pier 24, SFMOMA
, and de Young
—and has played muse to leading photographers, from
. As such, it has a rich collector base for vintage photography. Capitalizing on this critical mass, PHOTOFAIRS | San Francisco
opened its inaugural edition on Thursday evening, with 34 galleries hailing from 14 countries. The fair launched with an ambitious vision to introduce a new generation of collectors to the medium, particularly through its contemporary practitioners.
“San Francisco is synonymous with the medium—there’s such a vibrancy inherent to the culture here for photography that we were able to work with,” PHOTOFAIRS artistic director Alexander Montague-Sparey told me during the fair’s opening. Eager to engage young generations of the tech, real estate, and finance industries, he’s developed the fair with an eye to make buying photography accessible—he estimates that the majority of work at the fair is priced between $5,000 and $50,000. “I really want to get people who have never been to an art fair before to come here and say ‘Oh, I can buy something for $3,000 that I love and it can go into my house,” he said. “It’s a very democratic fair in that respect.”
And while the fair does offer important work for serious vintage collectors, Montague-Sparey stressed its focus on “photography as a contemporary phenomenon,” having placed emphasis on work made in the 21st century. Contemporary works that speak to the Bay Area—including tech-focused light box works or visions of the Golden Gate—appear to be geared toward young collectors in particular. Below, we highlight 12 standout works from the fair.