The Quality of the Photograph

Little Rock Integration

Little Rock Integration, Vintage 1957 by Ed Clark

Collecting great photographs requires an understanding of multiple factors. Condition quality obviously plays an instrumental role in the current and future value of each acquired print.

Honor your preference of learning from the past to create the future with a poignant modern photograph printed from the original source or a vintage print developed at the time of the negative.   The beauty of the modern print is that the history of the print is readily available to the collector; it is in excellent condition; the printer is known as well as  the medium and the number of prints available.

But, sometimes, a vintage print surfaces of the same negative or time that gives a different perspective to the moment.  Vintage photographs, especially those from the great photojournalists of the Twentieth Century,  allow the collector a glimpse into the historical significance attached to each photograph.

Cracks, loss of emulsion, stains, all show that these may have been ‘working’ prints for the great publications of our times. Some vintage prints of this genre also document the use of the photographs on the verso – so much so that a time line can be created for the individual photograph.

Years ago, editors, creative directors, assignment editors most certainly sat around an assignment desk ‘mocking up’ a story with columns of type and photographs laid in place for a daily newspaper, a weekly magazine or a periodical.   In many cases, those days are memories.  A vintage photograph can and maybe should help you to recreate this moment in time. So all the ‘condition’ issues of a vintage photograph might just lead you to a great understanding of the historical importance of what is held in your hand.

Author: Myrna Hayutin

Share This Post On