Photography records the past in a way that no other medium can do — as Dorothea Lange said, it takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. If you're interested in building a vintage photo collection, there are a couple of ways to go about it.
Signed, limited edition prints are more valuable and pricier, and reputable galleries can help you find a piece that you'll love and that might even increase in value. Unlimited editions and prints by unknowns are much less expensive, but can be just as compelling. Those can be found through vintage shops and online photo archives.
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Photo: Sioux Chiefs by Edward Curtis, 1905, from the Library of Congress Prints and Photo Collection, public domain