This web site is the internet presentation of FRANK LAVA on photography. This site is divided into two categories: On the one hand, my personal photography projects, on the other hand, my photographs collection the FRANK LAVA ARCHIVE - COLLECTION OF RARE & VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES which makes up the largest part.

This collection comprises some thousand photographs and analog image carriers as well as numerous photo books and a small number of photo albums. For reasons of copyright only a small part of the overall collection can be shown here. The focal point of the collection is the German-Austrian photographer and cinematographer Arthur von Schwertfuehrer (1891-1967) whose photographic estate I manage a part and do research on his work.
The web site is an online gallery for enthusiasts of photography and collectors. It represents an ever expanding resource. Let me take you on a voyage of discovery and share with me the dedication and appreciation for old rare & vintage original photographs; starting from the supposedly banal snapshot and culminating in the work of art.

The invention of photography in the mid-19th century made it possible to reproduce and represent reality. People find it interesting and inspiring to look at photographs. It is a kind of magic to see and discover how the world turns into a photograph in front of our eyes and the camera. This is nothing short of a miracle. The variety of photographic applications is immense, for both commercial and private users. The language of photography is as manifold as their genres, motives and visual means. It yields in reflection, content, reality, fiction and many more. It is pregnant with meaning and is considered as a reflection of reality. It serves as an illustration in newspapers, magazines and books. It is a medium of anonymity and functionality at the same time. It supports science, journalism and art. Its traditional genres such as portrait, landscape, still life and the like have always been a hybrid of art and commerce. For quite some time it is no longer regarded the disregarded little sister of painting. Every close look confronts us with questions: Objectivity vs. subjectivity, stylistic elegance vs. banality, reality vs. fiction, art vs. kitsch, and since the digital revolution we are even confronted with the questions of analog photography vs. digital imaging.

Undoubtedly, we demand a great deal of photography. Not only from a technical and artistic point of view. A simple image no longer meets our requirements. The photography shall illustrate more than just message and presence of the objects. There is a thirst for dimension: historic, social, public, personal, spiritual and artistic dimensions. The material and descriptive level alone is no longer satisfying. We are also searching for the intellect and ask for contents. This is precisely where the problem lies. That’s why it has always been difficult to bring meaning to the image.
The photographic veracity comprises the demonstration of transience and the ephemerality of time. To capture something that will be a thing of the past the very next moment. It has the gift to transform something that at first sight appears to be inconspicuous and marginal into something meaningful. It arouses interest and association; it stands for sympathy and empathy, and enables the observer to draw comparisons. It offers an object for observation, an image of something unprecedented. All you have to do is pay attention. Silvio Vietta ("Ästhetik der Moderne", "Aesthetics of Modernity") talks about different forms of perception of the photograph and categorized them into five types of images: Photography of the imagination, emotion, memory, association and sensation.

Building up a photographic collection is quite fascinating and is an art form apart. Collecting photographs is similar to the act of photographing itself – the object collected is the picture. An increasing number of people start collecting photographs. Some contemporaneous artists prefer photographs they detected to photographs taken on their own. Their selection and explanation then makes it a work of art.

The photographs of this collection are not distinguished between Art Photography and conventional photography. The pictures are intended to arouse interest, independent of who took them. They are the visual fixtures of this collection. They are categorized according to the time of origin. The majority of the photographs is neither explained nor described. They tell their own story. What is important “inspiration comes before information”.