Can we and should we insure photos?

On Insurance Chat we have focused on camera insurance and the insurance of camera gear and equipment. At the recent Photo and Film Expo in Johannesburg visitors could see for themselves how expensive some of these pieces of equipment can be – and there is no denying that they are an insurable interest. The conscientious owner will take the necessary steps to protect these assets from damage and loss.

But what about the photos we capture with our expensive equipment? Are they valuable enough to insure and should we as photographers consider insuring them? Where do we go to insure photos and what do we need to know?

We have decided to raise these and other questions with Gordon Massie, Managing Director of Artinsure.

Is a photo in itself or a set of photos an insurable interest?

Photographic images have been appreciating artworks for decades. Internationally you can look at the likes of Cartier – Bresson, Ansel Adams, Bailey etc. For more insight to their works also view:

They are viewed in the same way as other art mediums and are definitely insurable and are an appreciating asset.

South Africa has its own renowned photographers (David Goldblatt, Mikhael Subotsky, Robin Rhode, Roger Ballen and many more,) Interestingly the Standard Bank Young Artist this year went to Mikhael Subotsky.

Values have been slow to develop in this country in view of a conservative collecting mind set focused on oil on canvass but that is now changing. It is perhaps important to note that most SA photographers are enjoying their highest success internationally.

How do you place a value on the photos to be insured?

Valuing photography is in the same manner as other art forms. The value is a complex mixture and includes:

  • Artists Brand
  • Subject Matter
  • Current Fashion
  • Size
  • Quality
  • Track record in the secondary market
  • Number of editions to be printed of an image (generally the higher the edition the lower the unit price.)
  • Current primary market prices
  • Current market trends.

We agree a value for a photograph prior to the insurance incepting in the same manner as we do any artwork.

Does Artinsure offer photo insurance cover?

Artinsure successfully insures photographs in collections, museums, exhibitions and gallery stock

Do you believe that technology and the many ways of editing and sharing photos reduced the uniqueness and value of photos?

The use of technology does not in itself devalue the work. It does increase the cynicism of unconvinced collectors though. The key here is that the artist needs to protect his brand and build a long career so the integrity of the work is paramount.

Would photographers be able to insure against loss in the event of losing all their photos / shots taken at a wedding or other event?

Insuring wedding photography is a very different thing to the above. We provide photographers with an option to buy insurance should the data be destroyed. It is provided in the form of reshoot costs.  In addition to buying this photographers should instigate a suitable back up process to risk manage this aspect.

Conclusion and Advice:

Photos sometimes have a lot more value than mere sentimental value. The highest recorded price paid for a photo was the amount of $3,890,500 paid for a photo by Cindy Sherman. For more on the most expensive photos view “Is my best photo worthy of photo insurance cover?” If you have photos of special value, have them appraised and insured!!

Also view:

Smile – but only if your camera and equipment are insured!!

Zoom in on Camera Insurance even if you care for your equipment!!

For more on Cameras, Photography and Insurance also view:

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