How Is The Photography Art Market Doing?

Art Price provides insights on the art market place. One of the things they do is collect data on auction prices of all arts auctioned in the West. The "indexes are calculated based on all fine art auction results (paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, prints) in USD." This graph shows who the indexes have done in the last 20 years. The baseline is 1998 for each. Each ribbon grows (or shrinks) year over year to show how that market is doing. They are organized so that for any year the best performing market (of these) is on top. Notice the overall narrowing of the market after the financial crisis. Photography has been doing relatively well!

Art Index by Type from 1998 to 2018

Art Index by Type from 1998 to 2018

How Much Do Photographers Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides information about income distribution of different jobs. The latest data that was available for download is from May 2017. I put together a graph to understand who jobs lie where. In the graph, the horizontal axis is job density, which is the number of people who have this job for every 1,000 workers in the US - so further to the right means more people do this job. The vertical axis is the average hourly income for people in that job. The red line at $24 is the average across all jobs in the US. I overlaid the hexagons as a way to see the density of the dots - which part of the graph has the most dots.

Job density (jobs per 1,000 workers) vs. average wage ($/hour)

Job density (jobs per 1,000 workers) vs. average wage ($/hour)

Taxonomy for Genres of Photography

At AIPAD recently I was having dinner with some friends - photographers and collectors. One of the collectors asked what "kind of photograph" a certain photographer makes. Her intent, as she explained in the conversation, was to understand how to find the photographers work and how to classify it in the collection. There was heated debate about what genres mean and what their origins are and so on. 

I extracted all the genres of photography reported in and then traced back the taxonomy of each genre, up to 5 levels deep (higher). In many cases their taxonomy comes from outside of photography and outside of art. It was interesting to see the "roots" in this way. 

Leftmost node is 'genre of photography' and it's parent classes in the taxonomy

Leftmost node is 'genre of photography' and it's parent classes in the taxonomy

Inverting the picture and looking at the genres that has listed, and some of their origins in the taxonomy, without rationalizing levels (of subgenre), we can see what came from where.

Genres and subgenres of photography

Genres and subgenres of photography

Metrics on Photographers of Note

I was in a discussion recently and we came around to the topic of the proportion of photographers by gender and region. While everyone gave their opinion, we all agreed that we had not seen any metrics on this. 

I thought it would be interesting to look into, so I started to explore. I was interested in relative size of these populations and also how that evolved over time. After looking around, I was not able to find anything that answered our questions. For fun, you can try Google searches for "count of photographers by country graph". I decided to create my own.

I went to collect the information from This data is not always complete and accurate because it is crowdsourced with limited qualifications. This also compounds the metrics in that the metrics now depend on what the people updating wikidata were interested in. Nevertheless I persisted. 

The two graphs show what the data looks like.

Photographers of Note by Birth Year by Continent (i.e. the continent for country of citizenship)

Photographers of Note by Birth Year by Gender

Here is the query to collect the data from wikidata:

SELECT (COUNT(?item) AS ?count ) ?year ?genderLabel ?continentLabel
  ?item wdt:P106 wd:Q33231.
  ?item wdt:P27 ?citizenship. 
  ?citizenship wdt:P30 ?continent.
  ?item wdt:P569 ?dob.
  ?item wdt:P21 ?gender
  BIND(str(YEAR(?dob)) AS ?year)
  SERVICE wikibase:label { bd:serviceParam wikibase:language "[AUTO_LANGUAGE],en". }
GROUP BY ?year ?genderLabel ?continentLabel  

Have fun playing with wikidata!

Hurricane Harvey

Houston and its nearby areas were devastated by Hurricane Harvey this week. These are a few photos from my walk around my neighborhood today as the rain diminishes and the water recedes. Click on the image to view larger.