I'm hoping to tap the collective knowledge here to help my mother-in-law out.

My late father-in-law was a professional photographer through the 1960s, and he photographed the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas during some very interesting times. What is truly remarkable about his story is that he was unknowingly going blind - we don't really know how blind he was, as it wasn't until later in life he was diagnosed with a genetic eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa.

His photography is historical and striking, and I've put a website together with most of his work (I'm a web developer by trade):


A few of his photographs are featured in the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA.

My mother-in-law is a very sweet lady, and she's been trying for a few years to find out if his photographs have anything more than sentimental value. She's been to various galleries and art collectors, but nobody can give her a straight answer. They say it's because his photos are a blend of historical and artistic value, and because he's an unknown. She's been passed back and forth between galleries and museums, without anything concrete to show for it.

So, here I am asking for your help:

  • Can you help us appraise these photos?
  • Do you know anybody who knows fine art/photography well enough to offer a recommendation?
  • Any advice on avenues to pursue?
  • Are these pictures priceless or a dime-a-dozen?
  • Am I posting this question on the wrong site? Is there anywhere you can recommend to go for help with this?

Thank you so much in advance. Anything you can offer is wonderful. And my apologies if this is out of bounds for photo.stackexchange.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The first question, can we help appraise, I am going to say is no, similar to if they are priceless or common. But advice around where to go or what to do with these I'm sure someone can help with. Great question thanks for asking! \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Sep 21, 2012 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ My opinion in this area has "no commercial value" - but the little that is there is interesting - which is not universally the case. I thought the "GI appreciation week" photo rather poignant (or clever or both). I don't know how much that has been done elsewhere but if not common it may have special value to some. Specially apposite in recent times. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2012 at 13:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Getting a website going is a first good step, but I might suggest you read up a little bit on Vivian Maier. She passed away unknown, but her images have since been discovered and have become quite well known since. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Sep 22, 2012 at 14:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the comments! Do you have any idea how the guy who discovered Vivian Maier went about letting people know about her? Maybe a link to a good article about it? I'll be digging around myself, but just wondering if there was a good source. Thanks again! \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy Adams
    Sep 22, 2012 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndyAdams - I'm not sure, but her name started popping up a lot and so did her basic story, which is why I suggested some research on her or the guy who discovered her. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Sep 23, 2012 at 1:43

1 Answer 1


I don't really know anything about selling old photos, I can only give a few general advice.

  1. IMO any artistic work worth as much as their owners/authors value it, the way you advertise, publicize and value a work will affect it's price. respect them and give them some personality and they'll show you what they're capable of.

  2. I didn't see any options in your site where visitors could buy prints and posters, that could be an easy start.

  3. I love to buy photo books, specially for old photos that can't be found online. an organized photo book, with good quality and large print is what I'm ready to pay for.

  4. Each photo should have a story, they should be organized by dates, events and locations.

I assume that you have the negatives and you don't have any problems for large prints... I haven't checked all your photos, but I think they are generally interesting, you should just find their right market, don't get your hopes so high, but start from somewhere.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the response! From what I can gather, you're saying we should pursue the route of selling prints/books rather than chasing the "fine art" route and trying to sell the whole collection? My concern was that this would somehow diminish the value of the pieces - sort of "cheapening" them, if you know what I mean? \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy Adams
    Sep 22, 2012 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, unless the photos and their author have some exceptional story to tell, I think it's very hard and unlikely that you could sell the whole collection together. before anything you should make him famous, IMO exhibitions and books are great way to publicize his works, before you could earn anything, you should spend a lot! BTW, you can also try eBay auction services for one or two of images and see how it works... \$\endgroup\$
    – Omne
    Sep 23, 2012 at 16:58

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