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Thursday, 18 September 2008


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Great idea!

I have a collection of photos that many would rate as "junk", but even so, a swap of them for such more or less useless stuff like gold or cash would still be a good investment.

I can also offer some futures on my photos where I can sell them for a few hundred in worthless pieces of green paper in exchange for the chance that I may become a famous artist someday. You will then have a bargain that you could resell at a huge gain.

But think of all the bad photographers out there who couldn't participate. To even out that problem -- really, to be fair -- I think the successful, like those mentioned, should chip in a certain percentage for those who are digitally impaired. What would be fair? Well, I think perhaps 39% of retail for national redistribution, plus an additional ten percent to support the disfunctional shooters on a state-to-state basis. That'd only be fair.


Futures sounds like the perfect thing to package for those days when the shot I am going to make is growing clearer in my head, but the fire is warm and the wine glass is still full...


But isn't the high quality photography bubble about to break now? Wouldn't it be prudent to have invested heavily just after the dot-com bubble burst, before all these wondrous new technologies came online?

Before people completely lose their ability to distinguish a good photo from a bad one, and the value of everything plummets I mean...

Too late... It's already happened in the real world. Some people may have heard of the Zelda Cheatle Gallery in London, where Zelda encouraged and showed some of the best of British and world photography (and her Z Press imprint published terrific books by Mark Powers and John Blakemore). Well, that's not what she mainly does now: see this article:


Now you know why auction prices have been going through the roof. Photographs are the new gold (or, at least, *some* photographs...)

Don't joke this could actually happen.

Remember the Dutch and their Daffodils? Wasn't pretty :~(

That's not a strategy, Ctein, that's a tactic....

Oh, hang on, haven't I just inadvertantly revealed the root of the problem ?



There is another point to remember about land. No one "owns" land. All you own is the right to pay taxes on it. Don't believe me? Then stop paying taxes and see how long you own it.

Now hang on a minute there, Ctein. Are you saying that financial markets are an illusion, maybe a scam? That those silver-tongue guys in serious blue suits are con men, or worse, stupid? You mean, you think it's possible that tens of thousands of stand-up hard-nosed free-market-loving MBAs blindly fell for this "deregulation" idea and thought that we could grow money on trees without doing anything useful to earn it?

It's a sobering thought that maybe people like us, in the previously wealthy west, had only one useful thing to give to the rest of the world, our savings. We have been using it to buy stuff cheap. Well, now we have all this stuff and not much money left. Who needs us now?

The best post-graduate schools in the world are in the US and 60% of graduate students in the US are foreigners. When they go back home and set up their own universities and research centres, who is going to need us then?

Why did we let the lawyers, accountants, and financiers run things? Why did we think they knew better? What evidence was there of that?

Dear JC (and Scott),

I'd be happy to share 50% of my windfall profits with the less fortunate, but it won't be necessary. Why do you think "junk photographers" will be less packageable than junk bonds or junk mortgages were, eh?

Don't confuse sound monetary planning with real-world investment. We're after the latter, not the former.

It's tulip bulbs, all the way down!

Dear John,

That can be said of any assets you have that aren't protected against judgment for nonpayment of any debts. Owning something doesn't mean someone else can't lay claim to it. Irrelevant to investment strategies.

pax / plutocratic Ctein

Jeez, I hate to take a serious tone, but it occurs to me that you may actually be on to something here. Suppose you took fifteen really good photographers who print in a variety of sizes from 8x10 up, and then "bundled" them. This would have to include a few really famous guys, but who still don't charge too much (I'm thinking of people like Paul Caponigro, who just a couple of years ago sold me an exquisite oversized signed copy of "Running White Deer" for $6,000.) In any case, you bundle these folks and sell the bundle for $25,000 as a "modern portfolio, good for investments, or to hang on your wall. We will frame them for you in traditional black frames, matted, if you wish, etc. All prints limited edition, unless otherwise stated. Furnish your entire apartment with cutting edge modern photographic art by both traditional and current masters..." The famous guys would attract buyers for the less famous guys who are nevertheless very good and possibly going to be famous in the future. Hmmm. (Scratches chin.) You could of course buy the same group from a gallery, but then you'd have to pay for gallery overhead and profit, whereas, if they were sold directly over the net as a bundle...


Now we must decide what constitutes a photograph. Are we talking silly inkjets or darkroom prints? (I make both.) I gonna poke a stick in the hornets nest and make the following statement. I can't believe anyone would pay more than say $40 for an inkjet. Computerized ink on paper. Please. A handcrafted silver print that appealed to my taste (or lack of)? Well I would pay more.

You want a cogent financial analysis? Read Marx.

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