At the tender age of two, Photo London is in its infancy still – and yet the fair has rapidly established itself as one of the most influential photographic events on the international arts calendar. As the old adage goes, timing is everything, and with the showcase being held six weeks or so after The Photography Show in New York, and six months away from November's Paris Photo (in Paris, funnily enough), Photo London falls at just the right time of year to lure an abundance of international collectors and enthusiasts alike.
In fact, should one need guidance in starting a collection, then experts such as Vanessa Hallet, Phillips' Worldwide Head of Photography, is just one of many art aficionados on hand to help. Her top tips? Don't overlook fashion photography, "Now seen as a viable, collectable form of art...[which] has defined and will continue to define key moments in social history." And don't be afraid to start small, that's the whole point: "Photography in the spectrum of collecting is a relatively younger field that really took off in the 1960s and 70s and continues to gain momentum. A lot of that can be contributed to a combination of how new collectors gravitate to the more accessible entry point monetarily in photography and how over time collectors can grow and refine their collection to the higher end of the market."
With that in mind, AnOther ventured down to Somerset House to pinpoint the standout pieces:
Angie Hill and Catherine Bailey Kissing by David Bailey [see holding image]
No photography collection is complete without a bit of Bailey. The don of British photography is now in his late seventies, but continues to be one of the most relevant names in portraiture, fashion and beyond. This particular piece, from a series that he shot in the early 80s with his wife Catherine, was famously controversial for its lesbian connotations, and was eventually published in a book titled, The Lady is a Tramp (listen back to the old Sinatra song – it's not meant as the jibe you might think).
Obi if Idumuje by George Osodi
Lagos-based Osodi is one of the most respected photographers in Nigeria. His striking portraits of the country's monarchs capture the regal poses of over 100 of its regional Kings. Osodi regards the collection as a symbol of peace, unity and respect with regards to the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern parts of Nigeria.
Debbie Harry by Andy Warhol
If we're thinking fashion and if we're taking Hallet's advice in building a collection that chronicles "key moments in social history", then what better than a Warhol? Snap up this arresting portrait of the beguiling Blondie frontwoman to be transported the hazy, 1970s heyday of Studio 54.
Twins by Eamonn Doyle
This self-taught photographer's work takes inspiration from two unexpected sources – the writing of Samuel Beckett and Doyle's perception that "it’s not what's said that’s intriguing, but what’s not". Collated in his book END (on sale here and a great compromise if the pounds don't stretch to a print), the pieces present a street view of Dublin’s pavement culture, documenting local characters and capturing their spirit from a distance.
On the Beach by Hiroshi Sugimoto
Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto is known for the simplicity and beauty of his work. This new series further heightens his aesthetic, having been printed at Tokyo's highest-quality printer in a bid to create further depth within his famous black tones. Exploring the impossibility of stopping time from passing, the works focus on deserted New Zealand beaches filled with the flotsam and jetsam of car-parts corroded then washed up by the sea.
Hariban Award Collotypes by Antony Cairns
Roman Road Gallery has dedicated its entire space to Cairns, winner of the 2015 Hariban Award Grand Prize. His London-based works are a real highlight of the fair, with pieces that take the form of prints on aluminium, totems, and plastics, using unusual artisan techniques. Don't miss Cairns' unique LDN EI book – it's a marvellous object to behold.
Untitled, 1970-73 by William Eggleston
Dubbed the 'Godfather of colour photography', William Eggleston is one of the most influential image-makers to ever emerge from the US, and has inspired a generation of creative luminaries including Jurgen Teller and David Lynch. His work is rich and vibrant, enlivening the monotony of mundane subjects and objects. There's surely room for an Eggleston in every collector's portfolio.
SLAC I by Alejandro Guijarro
Spanish artist Guijarro was a 2015 Prix Pictet nominee and spent three years travelling to the greatest quantum mechanics institutions of the world, photographing their blackboards with his large-format camera. His work thrives on the unknown, leaving the viewer to question whether they're looking at a new breakthrough formula, or an equation set to tantalise the next generation of quantum physicists. The vast scale of the pieces themselves echo the looming blackboards, highlighting how small our understanding of the world really is.
Photo London is at Somerset House from May 19-22, 2016.