When I was at UC Berkeley studying Physics, I added a BA in fine arts. At that time, I have to confess that didn’t consider photography to be Fine Art and thought of it more as craft. I had been making some ‘artistic’ photos and printing them in the darkroom, but somehow my mind was locked. My opinion didn’t change until about 2000 when the very first digital cameras. This article about Daniel Wolf creating an art market for photography in 1984 was interesting to me. I knew that even as far back as 1905 Stieglitz was already exhibiting photos in his gallery on 5th Avenue in New York, but I didn’t realize how big a jump was made in the 80’s. While I was way behind in my thinking about photography being art, I was way ahead on my acceptance of digital as an art form medium. I think even today many galleries still only value analog photography as ‘Fine Art’. Some analog photographers didn’t even print their own work, but somehow this is still better to the gallery owners than the idea of limitless copies possible from digital negatives. Editioning doesn’t really help. Maybe NFT’s will be the new way for artists working with the digital medium?
In 1984, he quietly amassed 25,000 photos for the J. Paul Getty Museum, jump-starting collectors’ interest in the medium.