Although most of what I sell at Augenblickphoto is photo decor like my photo wood blocks and popular photo stones, in my heart it is still a shop for fine art photography. That being said, there is also a lot of great fine art photography on etsy that I admire. Here are some of my personal highlights.
There is something so wonderfully dream-like about photographer Erin Tyner‘s created miniature worlds. What could easily go in the direction of kitsch (i.e. photographing dioramas) is poetic and intimate, sometimes even mysteriously heartbreaking.
I really love the composition of this photograph by Jillian Audrey. I spent most of my childhood in Tucson, so seeing it here is like experiencing a paradise lost.
Lucy Snowe is one of the most successful photographers on etsy and, with this photograph, you can see why. I love all of her work of mid-century homes.
The shop Pocket Memories has some gorgeous and strangely vulnerable female nudes made with a polaroid camera.
Treasury tool by Red Row Studio.
I’ve loved vintage photographs for as long as I can remember and started collecting them in my early teens. I spent many a Saturday afternoon in a junk store on Bancroft Avenue in Berkeley looking through tattered boxes for photographs I simply had to have. The photograph above was one of them. When I opened Augenblickphoto I made photo decor and jewelry from high quality prints of vintage photographs from my private collection as well as my own work. This, of course, has been the perfect excuse to always be on the hunt for new gems to add and most of the vintage photograph shopping I do is online. Although I’ve bought from over a dozen online sources, the shops listed below have been my favorites both by the quality and selection of the photographs as well as excellence in service. As I’ve been very happy with all of them, they are in no particular order.
1. Clancy’s Classics
With over 800 vintage photographs for sale, Clancy’s Classics (or Maclancy) is always a sure bet for finding a must-have for my collection (in fact, when I went to etsy to get the link for this post I immediately found several photographs I absolutely love but had not yet seen even though I browsed the shop only a couple of days ago.) I have bought photographs here time and time again and always found the service very professional and the shipping amazingly fast considering I live in Berlin and the shop is based in Oregon. The shop owner Marianne also sells her own tinted photograph work which is well worth a look.
2. Ephemera Obscura
Another great etsy shop is Ephemera Obscura, with over 2000 photographs to choose from as well a handful of greeting cards, books, magazines and vintage prints.
3. Vera Viola
With only 60 vintage photographs currently for sale, Vera Viola is definitely not comparable in size to the two sellers mentioned above or below. However, she does have a lot of gems including several post mortem photographs (not really my thing, but I’m sure there are collectors.) I bought from the shop several times and found the shop keeper so nice and personable that I think she’s definitely worth a mention. She also has some nice vintage wares of other sorts on offer.
Moving away from etsy, there are also two ebay sellers here in Germany that I highly recommend, both of whom also ship internationally. With over 2000 photographs on offer, the seller Reiselaeufer has some amazing photographs including many Daguerreotypes and some erotic photographs as well as your average vintage faire. What I’ve been especially happy with are the vintage 8 by 10 press photos I’ve found there. I’ve bought at least 5 of them in the past and they were all amazing. For the most part, his photographs aren’t especially cheap, but they are very special finds and worth every penny to a true collector.
Another German-based ebay seller, LaCarlotta1900 has a much smaller selection (around 230 photographs) but each of the photographs seem to have been selected with care and are priced nicely for their quality and uniqueness.
If it hadn’t been for L’Inconnue de la Seine, I’m not sure I would have ever even opened Augenblickphoto. Ironically enough I came by the mask purely by chance.
I came across her on ebay in Germany. A thumbnail showed the mask of sleeping woman’s face and was filed under the name Goebel FX/20. When I clicked on the link it said this was Die Unbekannte Tote aus der Seine,The Unknown Woman of the Seine, the death mask of a woman who had committed suicide by throwing herself into the Seine river at the turn of the 20th century. Creepy, yes, but also very intriguing. I bid on the mask and won.
When it came in the mail I was immediately moved by how beautiful she was. The bisque porcelain was so cool and smooth to the touch and had been stained so skillfully, gray in some places, black in others with a subtle ochre tint around the nose and the mouth. But I didn’t really want to keep her. Something was so powerful about her image that I didn’t think I even had a room big enough to hold her. I stored her in my wardrobe and still had the feeling I could feel her all over the apartment.
I took pictures of the mask on the window sill of my apartment and in the court yard behind my house in the snow then placed it for sale in the vintage housewares shop I was running at the time. A collector contacted me after a few weeks which led me on a wild goose case around the internet, finding out more about the mask and the story behind it. I found out more about the Goebel Hummel company than I ever thought I would know. In the end, the woman did buy it. L’Inconnue de la Seine found a new home in Indiana.
Was it a coincidence that I took the photographs at high resolution? I didn’t really know how to operate my camera yet at the time and didn’t turn the photographs into smaller files like I would now. If I had, I would never have been able to print them later.
Who was L’Inconnue de la Seine? According to legend, she was a young country girl who committed suicide by throwing herself into the Seine in Paris. She was fished out the river and brought to the morgue where a young doctor, moved by her quiet beauty and enigmatic smile, made a death mask of her face. Some say he was driven mad by love for her and later threw himself into the Seine to finally meet her in its watery embrace. Others say the story is pure myth. L’Inconnue de la Seine was made from the living face of a German mask maker’s teenage daughter and he grew rich selling copies of the mask which hung on the walls of every true and wanna-be European artist and poet at the beginning of the 20th century. No one knows for sure. What is known is that this mask has inspired generations of artists and writers from Rilke to Nabokov to Camus to Man Ray.
The text above is what I write on all of the pieces I’ve made that were inspired by this haunting mask. I found her by chance and can’t get here out of my system. At least I know I’m in good company. To see everything I’ve made so far with her image, please click here.