Why Do You Send Blurry Images?

Art appraisers and authenticators receive frequent requests from both private and institutional clients for their services. One would think this process might be enhanced by today's fast paced technology expediting the delivery of images and related information. Unfortunately, the answer is both yes and no. Cell phone cameras have created new monsters for clients thinking that they can just point, shoot and  email. Sometimes the quality of the images are horrendous evoking wishful memories of how great things were with Kodak Brownies. The old computer adage of junk in equals junk out also works for art appraising and authentication. Clients must understand that the more difficult they make the process the more problematic it is to have a very experienced expert on the other side. Art experts are not licensed so unless the clients understand industry standards like USPAP ( Uniform Standard of Professional Appraisal Practice) you just may be getting advice from a  very inexperienced untrained person. In this blog we have addressed how to find an expert, so you can locate this information with our search functions. This is about understanding how important it is to deliver correct information and good images. As an appraiser and authenticator with 40 years experience and because I understand the limitations of bad photos, I won't accept blurry dark images. Some appraisers especially those now that are providing online services will accept bad images as a necessary step to take your money.

Before you ask for help, put yourself in the place of the appraiser or authenticator and logically ask yourself what you think they might want. Clearly if it is a mask, good images of the front, back, sides, and maybe closeups of any areas of interest would be helpful. Or maybe its a rug. Shoot a good general shot and maybe do some closeups of the design and then include a shot of the back around a corner. Maybe it has fringe, or areas that are torn or stained.. All of this would be good to know.  Collection history, any previous appraisals, exhibition history, invoices are actually helpful in the physical examinations.  Some information that appears insignificant may give us a clue of something to look for in the examination. For example if I see that another appraiser valued it high but the documentation said it had entered the U.S. in the last ten years, even if it looked stylistically OK,  I would be far more suspicious as I examined it. So if it helps make a checklist before you send off your information; it may save you some money.

Wireless phone companies advertise that many of their cell phones now take images in excess of 10 megs. The size of the image does not ensure that image is good. Look at the image before you send it. If it is blurry or dark, or upside down, don't send it. The appraiser just may accept them... then you will really have a problem.