Del Zogg Q&A

Del Zogg is an independent curator, author, and consultant on photography, as well as a collector. He retired from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in September of 2015 where he served as the collections manager for the prints, drawings, and photographs collections. Prior to moving to Houston he was the senior cataloguer for the photographic collections at the George Eastman House (now the George Eastman Museum). At both collections, over a career spanning more than 35 years, Zogg has spent his working life intimately involved with large, encyclopedic photographic collections.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Master’s degree from Syracuse University. Though he considers himself a “lapsed” photographer, his photographs are part of the permanent collection of several museums, and held in numerous private collections.

Zogg has been involved in portfolio reviews at several major events, such as the FotoFest biennial, Houston, TX; Atlanta Celebrates Photography; PhotoNOLA; and Photolucida’s Critical Mass. He also wrote the introductions for books by Lori Vrba (The Moth Wing Diaries, Daylight Books, 2015) and Susan Burnstine (Absence of Being, Damiani Editore, 2016).

In addition to serving as a juror for multiple exhibitions, he has also curated exhibitions for the George Eastman House and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and is still actively involved with both organizations on an advisory level. Zogg is also a member of the national advisory council for the Houston Center for Photography, as well as a member of The Light Factory’s exhibition committee and auction committee.

So when and how did you get involved with The Light Factory?

After I retired from my career working within museums in 2015, I moved to the Davidson area to be near my son and his family. Needing something to keep me occupied, I came to an opening reception at The Light Factory. After talking with Kay Tuttle—The Light Factory’s Executive Director—and a few other folks, I was invited to join both the auction committee and the exhibition committee. I have been involved with both committees since 2016.

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What kind of opportunity does The Light Factory’s Annual Auction present to the local community?

It is a great opportunity to see works by photographers that may not be known to the community. I have been involved with photography and seeking out works for museum collections for over 35 years. The works that are presented at The Light Factory’s benefit auction are works requested from artists whose work I know, have reviewed at places like Fotofest in Houston, PhotoNOLA in New Orleans, or Atlanta Celebrates Photography. I know most of the artists whose work I sought out for the auction from various projects we have worked on over the years.

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What words of advice would you give novice fine art collectors?

Simply put, buy what you like. Collecting photographs can be rewarding, but novice collectors should understand the various aspects of the photography market, the various photographic processes that artists have used throughout the evolution of the medium, what a great photographic print looks like, and how it is different from a not-so-great print. Take the time to educate yourself, make contacts with artists and dealers, and trust your eye. Buying what you love will never disappoint, even if the work isn’t worth thousands. Something you can keep coming back to regularly because there is something that resonates with you in that image is priceless.

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Are there any donated pieces this year that you’re particularly excited about?

There are more than we have time to talk about. Natan Dvir is starting a new series and it is represented in his donation. Marti Corn and Øyvind Hjelmen have donated beautiful small little gems. E2, the couple Elizabeth Kleinveld, and Epaul Julien, have a piece with Old Master charm. Charles Traub presents a vintage piece from the work that began the recognition he now enjoys with a piece from his Beach series, shot in Chicago when he was studying with Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan. We have a beautiful Maggie Taylor print to entice and a complex Luis González Palma piece.

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Do you have any conservation tips for collectors?

As I said, buy what you love, but treat it with respect. Understand the nature of the work you purchased and treat it carefully. Light is the medium that creates photographs, but it is also an element that can cause photographs irreparable harm. Frame it with archival materials, and do not hang it in direct sunlight. Move it to storage after a few months for safe keeping. Museums have conservation issues and concerns for the various types of objects they collect—ultimately, they are caretakers of the objects they collect. Collectors need to understand that as well. Photograph conservators, specially trained scientists that understand the various aspects of photographs, know that they are complex physical and chemical structures. Their recommendations, even in a controlled environment like a museum—where the temperature and humidity is controlled 24 hours per day—are that photographs, in general, should be displayed (even under controlled brightness) for no more than three months at a time, then placed into storage for two to three years before being displayed again. Difficult to follow, but perhaps a goal to strive for as the collector becomes more and more involved.

The Light Factory’s auction has grown remarkably in the past few years with the breadth and depth of the images offered. Please attend our opening reception to see the works we are offering, and then return for the fun of the auction. Bid high and bid often. As they say, it is for a good cause.