AIPAD Photography Show 2013: Why Photographers Should Attend

Fine art photograph, Alec Soth, AIPAD
Alec Soth, Angela, Los Angeles, 38x48"

Unlike the fairly recent behemoth art fairs such as the Armory or Art Basel Miami, where hundreds of booths vie for attention and the surrounding atmosphere is more like a carnival frenzy (slight exception: Frieze New York), photographers and AIPAD are a more gentle lot.

Fine art photography fairs such as AIPAD Photography Show, can be a scary place for contemporary photographers, however.


Many artists and photographers that I know don’t want to go to art fairs to see work. If they were like me, it can get complicated but it’s mostly reduced to feelings fear and anger.

Fear such as: I won’t ever show there.  Or: No one likes my work.  Or: I am a failure because I’m not in a fair.  On the flip side is anger: Who cares about the crappy fair.  Or: that artist is terrible, I should be showing there so who wants to go.  Or just: screw them, fairs blow!

Well, both fears and anger could be applicable.  But that said, you should still attend AIPAD if you are a contemporary fine art photographer.

Here’s why.

Get Over Fear

Go beyond your fear and show up anyway.  Walk through it, literally, as you stroll through the aisles.  AIPAD is not perfect—but who or what is?

Know Who’s Showing Where

It’s helpful to know which photographers are showing what type of work at what galleries.  It gives you get an idea of recent trends.  Not that you should follow them in any way, but it just gives you information about work that is out there AT THE FAIR, not everywhere.

Enjoy Photography

Relax and enjoy.  You are a photographer, so go where the work is.  Stroll around, think like a collector and make a list of what you would want to own.  I guarantee you’ll find a handful of prints that you’d like.

Imagine Your Work There

Go around the booths and imagine what it would be like for your work to be displayed.  Think about the printing, the framing, how it should be lit and what it would be like to have someone come up and buying it.

It’s Your Industry

AIPAD is your industry after all so it’s good to be familiar with who’s who.  You never know who you’ll bump into—I’ve seen old teachers, MoMA curators, as well as collogues, and grabbed a chat with a few dealers.  They appreciate seeing you around, often noting that you are a serious photographer.  Remember, now is NOT the time to approach dealers except to say “hi” and ask how it’s going.  Remember, they are exhausted and are there to sell.

So photographers, unite and visit art fairs such as AIPAD Photography Show.

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