Yellow River

entrance to the +3 Gallery

entrance to the +3 Gallery

The exhibition showing when I arrived at The Three Shadows was “Yellow River” by Zhang Kechun from Chengdu of which there was a paperback catalogue available with good quality reproductions. Although I bought this for future reference, I was able to enjoy the gallery sized prints that were made using a 5 by 4 Linhof camera and colour negative film allowing for excellent detail. The photographer has resricted the range of his colour palette and made images that are light impressions devoid of high contrast. This soft and subtle approach allows one to feel the calmness of the river rather than experience the anguish and tragedy it can bring. One commentator, At Bishan, writes that “His pictures are so calm that there’s no arragoant human or angry river. Everything goes to quietness, which is actually enduring power.”
Humans do feature in these images but at ant-like sizes; they are part of a much greater whole of which the river is a significant part. One image that amuses me (and is also picked out by the catalogue) is of two men on what might be an island in the river yet what is probably just a spit of land. One is at the top of the bank with his camera on a tripod from which protrudes a long lens; the other is down by the waterside holding a white poodle in his arms having his picture taken. It is encouraging to see the lengths to which these man have gone to make a good photograph in an area that is itself barren for the land looks wasted and behind are the huge chimneys of an industrial plant.
The Yellow River exhibition at The +3 Gallery

The Yellow River exhibition at The +3 Gallery

Much of Kechun’s work, the images were acquired by walking along the river banks, contains compositions that are often delicately humorous yet also describe the immensity of the river and the obvious power it has over people’s lives. For instance, there is a photograph entitled “A man fishing on the top of a pavilion in the river, Shanxi” which informs one that the river is unpredictable and can devastate areas and yet the inhabitants have learned to live with this and manage to adapt such misfortune to their own ends.
What evidence if any is there of the sublime is here? It is perhaps the immensity not just of the images but the space they contain, their careful compositions and the tiny presence of man beside the vast sliding river that suggest the Sublime.
In his artist’s statement found at the end of the catalogue, Kechun writes that “Carrying out this photograph project is because of the inspiration after reading the novel River of the North by Zhang Chengzhi … I decided to take a walk along the Yellow River to experience and feel the father-like broad and wide brought from this river, so that I could find the root of my soul. While along the way, the river from my mind was inundated by the stream of reality.” He has avoided the cliched view of the river as mother and yet is still sensitive to it’s nature; “There is a descent in the matrix; there is her own nutrition to feed her babies; there is the power of creation to cultivate them strongly.”
The photographer’s view may be optimistic yet it does not compromise the reality posed by the Yellow River which was “once full of legends” says Kechun that have “gone and dissappeared”. Returning to this exhibition after a couple of days, I still find it inspiring; the subtle use of colour, the generous employment of space with attention to detail are qualities that uplift one. Photographers such as Burtynsky are much more hard hitting in terms of their portrayal of environmental degradation yet by doing so present work that is harder to digest. Burtynsky has been accused of beautifying the banal (an accusation that might be leveled at photography as a whole) if not of being nihilistic (another comment that might be applied to not only photography but contemporary Western art); Kechun allows us a window to see not just the turmoil caused by construction but something that transcends the histories he offers us.
Buddha Head with Muslim onlooker

Buddha Head with Muslim onlooker

Another image from this series that I would also like to consider is that of a large Buddha head apparently stranded in the midst of a building yard; a small figure dressed in white looks up at it from a distance. On closer inspection, one may need the caption to understand this, the dimunitive figure turns out to be a Muslim; another ironic twist to this tale of the river that Kechun presents to us.
Better known is the work of Nadav Kander who photographed a similar project along the Yangtse river.
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The Three Shadows photographic art centre in Beijing, China

“Three shadows” presumably relates to the shadows, midtones and highlights of the photographic image that are all in a sense shadows. I wonder if this institution with obvious artistic intentions actually delivers or is it run by people who don’t really understand it’s principles; it has been advised to me by American who is involved in photography and has apparently visited the place so this augurs well. This centre designed by Ai Weiwei does not disappoint.

signpost to The Three Shadows

signpost to The Three Shadows

Although I passed signposts to the gallery yesterday, today I find myself trying to get a taxi to the place from the centre of Beijing. According to the reception at The King Dragon guest house, taxi drivers are not interested in visiting this place; however, this really means that they are too busy at the time of day. It takes me about 15 minutes to hail a taxi from the main road and the driver takes me straight to the gallery. I leave my mobile in his car but within 5 minutes he is back to give it to me, not something likely to happen in Delhi or London.
entrance to The Three Shadows

entrance to The Three Shadows

The gallery is situated in what appears to be a warehouse centre where corporations also have offices. There are other galleries in the neighbourhood such as the Jing Gallery. It takes me a little time to find the Three Shadows gallery even though the driver has left me right outside. After heading off in another diretion, I return to find the entrance the design of which immediately gives a feel of a place that has been creatively constructed. The architectural work is brick and left as a brownish-grey in keeping with the monochromatic feel, the buildings rectangular and without artifice yet the space created by this basic building work is inviting and the staff are welcoming.
There is an exhibition on at the first building I come across; this is the Plus 3 Gallery about which more can be found at it’s website. I deal with the exhibition in another blog!
After seeing and reflecting upon this exhibition I meet Sheila, a young Chinese woman who works in the Plus 3 gallery that is a commercial arm of the Three Shadows. It is a gallery that aims to not just show work but also to sell it and works on behalf of photographers. During my visit, Sheila is working on a display to be held in Shanghai after a couple of months; this is a festival where the work will be exhibited with the likelihood of sales (www.photoshanghai.org). The photographs to be used are laid out on a table at a very small size so that the whole exhibition can be visualised beforehand. This is something that has been advised to me in the past and which I have ignored, preferring to do things digitally on a large screen.
140710-Three Shadows sign-9850
The Three Shadows itself, is run on charitable lines. The massive library for instance, it amounts to over 4,000 volumes and is still growing, is largely donated. Sheila did not tetll me about how staff were paid yet the Three Shadows does not aim to make large profits rather it is more concerned with keeping afloat and presenting photography to China, the Chinese and anyone else interested. It was started and is still run by a Chinese photographer, Rangrang, and his Japanese photographer wife, Inri; they do not however, use the place to merely promote themselves but obviously have a much wider vision. Any initial concerns that the place might be cliquey and hence unwelcoming were soon dispelled.
Sheila who works in The +3 Gallery

Sheila who works in The +3 Gallery

Another exhibition being held during my visit was one organised by The Three Shadows and was titled Formlessness; it features work by a couple of dozen promising Chinese photographers selected from over 500 and there is a catalogue to accompany it. It is not easy to review such an exhibition since there are so many artists with different intentions and interpretations of the overall theme. Their work is often striking though and some of the artist’s statements make interesting reading.
view of The Three Shadows

view of The Three Shadows

Perhaps the hub of the centre is the bookshop and cafe where one can sit and enjoy a drink. White gloves are provided so that one can leaf through the photographic books on sale. There is not a wide selection and much is concerned with photographers associated with the centre or who have exhibitied here. A book of black and white photographs by the artist Wei Wei is one of the more original books one is likely to see. This year will see the publication of a book about Chinese photobooks following an exhibition in Arles; unfortunately, I don’t know which books this will deal with but it will certainly provide a good shopping list. My own approach to buying photobooks is to go for the ones I actually like and so the monograph of the exhibition I have just seen, Yellow River, is an obvious choice.
exit from The Three Shadows

exit from The Three Shadows

Bristol Photobook week-end Day Two

An early train ride into Bristol after a few pieces of toast; I forget the porridge in my hurry.
Meet David Solo from the States who advises me to start at “The Three Shadows” when looking at photography in Beijing. This is both a gallery space and a centre for research that should be able to point one in the right direction.
Ken Grant

Ken Grant

The first talk is “Between you me and the Wall” with a witty Ken Grant who thinks photo-education is changing and that it needs to. He has no “selfie” to post only a “shelfie” which is a bookcase of his favourite photobooks which includes The Pond by John Gossage, Love on the Left Bank and People by Tom Wood. He has spent a lot of time looking at photobooks including dummies. He does not know why he knows what works and what does not. One needs nourishment; he has found it in Dutch photobooks.
Jose L Neves

Jose L Neves

Jose Luis Neves is a PhD student studying at Ulster who has also studied at De Monfort University; he has focused on the photobook. His talk is “Artist’s Book or Photobook Where do we draw the line?”
He references The Book of 101 Books by Andrew Roth (2001) as well as the Parr Badger trilogy published 2004, 2006, 2014. There are of course others such as The Open Book (edited by Roth). The Dutch Photobook originally published 1989 and since republsihed by Aperture. Another volume is the 1999 fotogratia Publica – Photography in Print 1919-1939 about creative autonomous forms and the photographer.
Neves is aware of a minefield of terminology in determining what these books considered photobooks might be referred to as; a photobook is just one word. Badger defines a photobook as where the work’s primary message is carried by photographs which does seems fairly straightfoward yet Neves considers that a proper definition is more complex. A photobook can be considered as a piece of sculpture, a play or even a film might be. Dick Higgin’s says a book is done for it’s own sake not for the information it contains; photographs become parts of a whole. This is not as simple as it might sound yet another definition helps to clarify this; the photobook is a medium in itself rather than a vehicle for a medium.
What makes a photobook a photobook? A collection of August Sander portraits for instance, Walker Evans’ “American Photographs”, the “Ravens” Japanese photobook and other well known works … can these really be considered photobooks? A literary quality is another example. Mike Brodie’s “A Period of Juvenile Prosperity” is also considered. One makes a photobook, one does not write them.
Ed Ruscha’s 26 Gasoline Stations is considered the first art photobook! However, although Ruscha did not think that the photographs themselves were important at the time, he now he sells them as individual prints.
Michael Snow’s Cover to Cover (New York, 1975), William Klein’s Life is Good for You and Good for you in New York (1956) are early examples of photobooks that used features like full spreads similar to those in fashion magazines
Photobooks can be any size or shape, different papers might be used as well as different types of printing that lead to different reader experiences. Other photobooks held up or consideration are Cathedrales by Aegerter (Paris, 2014) that shows changing light on the cathedral and involves rephotography, Karma by Monzon (Paris, 2013), Holy Bible by Broomberg and Chanarin, The PIGS by Carlos Spottorno … one can question the nature of photobooks, an attempt to define what makes a photobook. Many photobooks use appropriated images.
The information in a photobook not solely important rather the book is itself.
This Talk by joselneves@gmail.com, an Iberian academic from University of Ulster in Belfast is interesting yet there is not really time to absorb some of the information; arguably, his most interesting comments came at the begining when he used quotes about what a photobook might be but these needed more time to understand.
Martin Parr

Martin Parr

Martin Parr is not academic in approach preferring to work from gut instinct. For some people who make photobooks, photography is not that fundamental. Publishing as an artistic practice also needs considering. This talk has been about defining the nature of the photobook; a painting by Carl Spitzweg called Der Bucherwurm (1850) is projected and shows a gentleman at the top of a ladder in front of a vast bookcase with a couple of books in hand.
Corinne

Corinne

Corinne from Holland is an important photographer and teacher at The (Dutch) Royal Academy of Art; she introduces Bart also from Holland who is a photographer. They met each other through work in the 1980s and discovered they had similar ideas about photography and the need for it to change thinking that it needed to focus more on society and the era we live in rather than get too personal. Corinne encourages students to find their own way in their projects without becoming too personal; she tries to get students to distance themselves from their original starting point without loosing sight of it.
Examples of student books, some of which are for sale upstairs, are WassinkLundgren by Thijs grootWassnink, Ruben Lundgren’s “Empty Bottles” emerged from a visit to China; Communism and Cowgirls is another … this book is described on the Amazon site as “A scarce book by one of the finest young documentary photographers to come out of the Netherlands in recent years. Printed and published the old-fashioned way (rather than as a print-on-demand book), Hornstra’s first two books sold out quickly.Communism and Cowgirls was done as a graduation project at the Academy of Arts in Utrecht in 2004. It is a riveting documentary focusing on the first generation of young people to grow up after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Often it is not just about the making of a photobook but making them available, involving people.
Bart

Bart from Holland

Bart, a Dutch photographer, focuses on industry and has made a number of photobooks around the subject and plans to do more. One book is “Factories without Chimneys” and is about the electrical industry. He is fond of keeping and later using news clippings. He suggests bookmaking to management as a worthwhile goodwill gesture to employees, making a book being a small cost in regard to the immense costs in closing down a factory; he favours documenting factories that are going to close. Uses a 4by5 camera and photographs all the products as well as the building, machinery, people etc Photographs all the colleagues. Did a book about a nuclear power plant in Holland (mentioned in Parr and Badger Volume 2) photographing all the employees often in groups. Collects photobooks especially company photobooks; likes to honour old masters! “Delft Kabels” is a beautiful Dutch company book he came across and is trying to get republished. “Have you a trumpet handy?” is another book he likes. Collects books as they are good for ideas. A lot of young people no longer know what factories are! Photographing factories closing down gives the photographer more freedom as the company is unlikely to be worried about their image at this point. He has done a book about a cigar factory closing down in which management were dissappointed to see their staff smoking cigarettes rather than cigars. Has made 8 of these books to date and plans to do more.
Corinne talks again, about photobooks she has loved such as Cuny Janssen’s “Macedonie”, Vivianne Sassen’s work, On Loving Animals by Isabella. She loves good photobooks like she does good stories. She thinks photobooks are about showing work to others.
How Terry Likes his Coffee” is another photobook she recommends; in this case, the photographer hired a designer, invested in the production of work.
What we wear (mentioned in Parr and Badger Volume 3) is a concertina style book. The photographer realised he could not find an audience directly so he found publisher. A second edition is possible if he gets enough interest; the first edition sold out. The work focuses on the textile industry and the manufacture and trade of cheap clothing hence it is topical and relevant to today. There is some text at the end.
Niels Blekemolen author (can one use that word in this context?) “Once a Week” works in care. photographs of old people often from behind. Book that needs to be read quickly
“Now will not be with us forever” is a collection of booklets. One is about his father. Sold out but will be presented in Arles. Made everyday moments interesting and commercialised it. Not a marriage photographer rather creating memories for people of living spaces.
Book about cancer. Photos of mother and sister also typed details of illness.
I small like rain by Verena Blok. Diaristic which is rather too common these days.
Talk about their on ideas on the photobook.
Paul Seawright

Paul Seawright

Paul Seawright formerly of University of Newport and Donavon Wylie, a Magnum photographer; “Between the book and the wall” is introduced by Ken Grant.
Donavon Wylie studied at Farnham thirty years ago when photobooks were starting to gain interest but it did not form part of the student’s curriculum. Mentions Jem Southam’s book “Red River” which is about a journey. Thinks a lot about the gallery space not just the book.
Paul Seawright was inspired by books from an early age as well as music.
More space to move around when in gallery rather than book which is a restricted space with a more ordered way of viewing owing to page turning.
A photobook is different; can be conceptually constructed and may not work on a gallery wall. Paul Graham’s work ‘A shimmer of possibility” did work both ways.
A book needs to work conceptually. For instance, the book about the Maze prison, which is a system to keep people imprisoned, needed to convey this sense of imprisonment. Photographing almost everything. Not an easy book to structure. Made diagrammatic drawings about page layout; worked over this many times. A lot went into the production. Of the book about the Maze prison that eventually became three books, Amazon carry the following text; “Between 2002 and 2003 Donovan Wylie spent almost a hundred days photographing inside the Maze prison. Through its history of protests, hunger strikes and escapes, this prison, holding both republican and loyalist prisoners, became synonymous with the Northern Ireland conflict. After the Belfast peace agreement in 1998, inmates were gradually released, but the Maze remained open. Wylie was the only photographer granted official and unlimited access to the site, and when the demolition of the prison began, symbolizing the end of the conflict in 2007, he systematically recorded its demise. The photographs which document this period are divided into four sections, each depicting a layer of the prison: the internal walls, the various modes of fencing, the H-blocks and, finally, the perimeter walls, which reveal the external landscape. Eventually this once-enclosed space is reintegrated with the outside world. First published in 2004 to critical acclaim, this new edition of Maze comes in three volumes: Maze 2002/03, Maze 2007/08, and The Architecture of Containment.”
Choice of good photographs, paper, sequence etc sometimes breaking the order bringing experience of bookmaking to the gallery wall.
Looking at print outs of book sequence rather than images on screen as in Lightroom Book module.
Donavon Wylie

Donavon Wylie

Photoedit – Grant wrote about Wylie’s book Scrapbook. He put it together in 1996 during a personal crisis with photography. Uses appropriated photographs.
Another Wylie book is British Watchtowers again published by Steidl. Trying to make good books that don’t cost too much and are accessible. Others in series called Outposts North Wartime. Excited by idea of a book series.
Volunteer by Paul Seawright is another book for consideration. The book and the show can be very different in nature.
After the talk, a view of the bookshop upstairs where several people are vending and I buy afew books at discount prices.  A break for lunch at a nearby pub called The Imp where a small boy vomits over the carpet amidst much crying. Mike from the OCA is with me. We hurry back for the next talk which starts late. Mike from the OCA informs me that one can spend time in British Library Reading Room researching but need a card.
Jon Tonks talking about his book Empire

Jon Tonks talking about his book Empire

Empire by Jon Tonks is a body of work about which I have heard. An interesting project that became a book and has sold out but due to be reprinted; always intended to be a book. Sold 3,000 copies in a few months. Martin Parr helped with editing process. The front cover is photograph of a sheep under a Union Jack flag.
Tonks studied product design. Started this project in 2007, looking into elements of Empire. The end pages are maps which shows where Ascension Island is. Intrigued by the idea of an island controlled by the military requiring a special flight. Hit by barren landscape on arrival and spent a week researching the area, looking for stories. Met one or two individuals who belong to the island but will have to leave eventually owing to the military presence. Tonks went searching for a missing cow for instance that later died – the last picture of the last cow on the island. Photo of Noddy with gigantic fish; Noddy has also died. Photograph of airport which is owned by Britsh and Americans,each having one part.
Next trip was to St. Helena Island. Also photographed tourists visiting on a cruise. Analysed time spent drinking and eating. After 5 day cruise reached island, went around looking for stories. First visit only 8 days so needed to revisit and gradually found material in some of the people living there. Tonks has photographed the people there, some of whom seem quite eccentric.
Amazon say about the book; “Jon Tonks spent up to a month at a time in each territory, travelling 60,000 miles around the Atlantic via military outposts, low-lit airstrips and a long voyage aboard the last working Royal Mail Ship. Some 400 rolls of film, 24 flights and 32 days at sea later, the resulting work creates an insight into these distant places that resonate with a sense of Britishness which is remarkably recognisable yet inescapably strange. Tonks has photographed the people, the landscapes and the traces of the past embedded within each territory and through short texts, which combine history and anecdote, he tells the story of these remote and remarkable islands. His motivation is neither political or nostalgic, the images arising primarily from his curiosity about the lives of these distant lands that remain very firmly British.
When doing the book, Tonks became preoccupied with text and image.
Spent 7 days of boredom on another boat on way to Tristan de Cunha Island. Again photographed people such as only policeman for over a thousand miles around. Photographed young couple; they had to build their own house. Photograph of abandoned lifeboats swept inshore.
Tonks did a lot of research beforehand yet easier once he got to the locations. Forging locations with people also important. Did not start photographing immediately as some people were shy.
Also went to The Falklands about which he had a preconception. There is a road called Thatcher Drive after the British P.M. as she helped liberate the island.
Tonks came away with an enormous group of images and a lot of stories which he wanted to incorporate.
Images are well composed with obvious symmetry.
Due to be a touring exhibition following on from the book. Not something originally intended. I can’t help but feel a sense of humour to this work, the kind of humour that made British Empire.
“Self-Publish, Be Happy” with Bruno.
 atSPBHLIVE twitter
stage events
Self-publishing involves a lot of things … photographing, designing, marketing etc
exploring, looking more closely at things
finding worthwhile images in world around us e.g. within home
Max Pinckers
Fourth Wall about India
documentary approach but using different methods to build story
text of emails
arranged marriages, love commando shelters for people from different castes who need protection; shelters
sequences of photos like cine reel to show progression of situations honestly
background to situation of love marriages
LoveCommandos.org texts from net
images from Mumbai portrait studio; don’t have money to buy nice clothes so stand behind photos of them
mass Christian wedding
appropriation of prints from studio images that were never claimed
supported Europalia in Bruxelles
Untitled by Anouk Kruithof
about love-hate relationship with photography
digital copy
Not everyone wants to self-publish; some artists happy to hand over  the process to others.
Is the book worth cutting down trees for??!
Too many bad photobooks – photographers don’t know why they are making them.
photobook market quite small with limited numbers of buyers ?!
Stephen Bull (left) with Joachim Scmid

Stephen Bull (left) with Joachim Scmid

Desert Island Photobooks
Stephen Bull interviews Joachim Schmid
arranged by Photoworks
Stephen Bull has interviewed 10 photogaphers for Desert Island Pics; now he is doing Desert Island Photobooks with Joachim Schmid, a found photographer which means he uses photoraphs he finds. Made a lot of photobooks from these appropriated images.
JS has no collection of photobooks, not a collector, but does get books he needs then gets rid of them. He buys books he likes but has no idea of making a collection. Allowed 8 books on his Desert Island which he finds an acceptable number; choosing 8 photos to take would be much harder if not impossible.
Marshall Mc Luhan; the medium is the massage (1969) did not find it until late 1977; about text and image; important compilation of his work; photographs in the book mostly by unknown photographers, stock images but some cedits at back. JS admits to owning this book and keeping it. Discusses different covers. Originally, medium is the message but a typo lead to it being called the massage. Kind of book you can pick up and read anywhere. Mac Luhan also author of Understanding Media.
Tach, Mao1 (Hi Mao!) by Hilga Eibl. Post card size, about 25 images over 50 pages, all taken from the Press. Images of different people meeting Mao.
Jurgen Becker, a German writer, awarded a prize for his literature. He also has done a photobook. Images of ordinary everyday views with a little text inserted such as a phrase … “no one knows exactly”. Only one edition printed in 1971. Likes the way a writer decides to play with another medium.
1981 book discovered in 1994. Appropriated photobooth photographs that have been ripped up by owners and now put together again for others to view. Began in Brighton in 1968 by Dick Jewell when he found some discarded photos by a photobooth. We don’t know who are in the photos. Significant moment in found photography. Listed in Parr and Badger, The Photobook, vol. 2, p. 222.
The Lost Pictures by Alexander Honory (mentioned in Parr and Badger Volume 2) who works with tiny snapshots but only text about images. Photographs trigger memory but they are not memory. Got his wife to sew copies together. Honory is a friend of Schmid! people who work with snapshots tend to work with images of their family but JS does not advise this.
Sophie Calle’s true histories is a book JS likes very much. It is a work of fiction containing photos and textual anecdotes, the veracity of which is hard to determine. Other Sophie Calle books are mentioned in Parr and Badger’s history of the Photobbok.
Autoportrait by Martin Parr (2000) is free of vanity; JS would never allow himself to be photographed as such.
JS’ final book is called The American War (2006) by Harrell Fletcher. Photographs from conflicts that show horros committed by the Americans. Also a reflection on role of photography. The captions vary. Appropriated photographs.
Photo books have been presented in sequence that they came into JS’ life; all the books are small in size.
Storing photobooks not easy. How would JS store them? In a plastic bag he can carry around with him!
Which is the one book he values most? He avoids replying to this by saying the one he could grab hold of first.
Click HERE for Day Three
Click HERE for Day One

Bristol PHOTO BOOK week-end early June 2014 Day One

photo book week-end poster and microphone stand

photo book week-end poster and microphone stand

This Photobook week-end in Bristol promises to be a special event in which there will presumably be a certain amount of dialogue amidst the talks. The relevance of the photobook in regard to photography as a whole has not received much attention in the past but The History of the Photobook by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger, now running to three volumes, has been published in the past decade and been accompanied by other similar volumes covering the Latin American photobook, the Swiss photobook and the Dutch photobook while the Japanese photobook has also been written about. Parr and Badger are due to give a talk on books that have not made it into their canon; one can’t help but feel that Parr and Badger are dictating what makes a good photobook yet this is unlikely to be their intention. Their talk today will be about widening the perception of what the best photobooks might be and with an audience present, some of whom are likely to be well informed, the range should be widened further.

In preparation for this week-end, I have been reading a book entitled “The Photobook: from Talbot to Ruscha and Beyond” which is a collection of essays by various scholars that covers a number of photobooks in depth. It contains more depth perhaps than the shorter descriptions one finds in Parr and Badger’s encyclopaedia of photobooks. I have reflected upon this book in another blog as it contains some excellent essays that give a sense of what this medium is actually about.
entrance to the South Bank Club in Bristol

entrance to the South Bank Club in Bristol

The Photobook Week-End is being held at the South Bank Club in Bedminster, Bristol rather than the South Bank in London as some have apparently misunderstood. Although talks are being given, this is also a social event and a chance to network. The club looks rather impressive and upmarket from the internet site yet it is a lot more unprepossessing in reality; the building itself is not purpose built yet suffices with a bar at the back of the auditorium (it might better be called a hall) and a table at the entrance acting as the reception area. One is however, given a nicely printed programme; at last one knows what is likely to happen and when during the week-end. Cool tea is served free for refreshment to one side as is fresh fruit; pizza and cake is for sale.
food served at the event

food served at the event

There is an obvious international flavour to this week-end with prominent German accents being heard as well as latin ones while there are also visitors from the States and one woman has come from Korea. This might be the first photobook festival in the UK someone suggests; it is unlikely to be the last. The organisers are lead by Rudi Thoemmes of RRB Photobooks based in Bristol.
The first talks are by the Portuguese and the Spanish, the Iberian Photobook in fact. Martin Parr sits alone in the audience at the front, notebook to hand. The first topic is on the Portuguese photobook to be followed by the Spanish photobook; all this is introduced Moritz Neumuller.
Moritz Neumuller introducing the Iberians

Moritz Neumuller introducing the Iberians

“A short history of the Portuguese Photobook” is the first talk; it is not a well covered subject and this is a subjective selection showing wonderful books one probably has not seen before. These include Politics of the Spirit, Portugal 1934 (mentioned in Parr and Badger’s book) which was masterminded by the Institute of Propaganda and inspired by Fascism with appropriated images from the Press. Portugal 1940 is a similar book also using photo-montage. These kind of books were distributed to other countries being translated into other languages notably English and French. Other titles include “No Rain in Portugal but Tourists Pour in” and “Romantic Portugal” which are both tourist books, portraying the country in a particular way including dramatic scenes and images of people proud of their roots.
Some of these books might be said to be organising reality through photography.
Lisboa: Happy and Sad 1959 (mentioned in Parr and Badger’s book) shows a more sophisticated sense of photography using different papers, colours with conscious integration of text and images.
Palla and Martins worked together, working to change dependence on the photographic print as the aim of photography common at that time; they saw greater reach of photography. Portugal do Fado by Barreto (1960) has good combination of text and photographs although his next “Ancient Lisbon” does not carry text with the images.
Death on the March in Angola (1961) is a small pamhlet published for propaganda purposes; strong content e.g. dead bodies makes it difficult to look at in some places.
A new style of propaganda 1968-1974 by Marcelist Spring; there is a Helen Harper Nitwear advert in which the model claims to have stolen a jumper from a fisherman; the book “Portugal: A country worth getting to know (1972)” is a new vision of the country and was distributed abroard.
The Last Day of Pide (1974) documents the occupation of a secret police headquarters where state censorship took place; images of files kept on people considered subversive were photogaphed among other things. Walls of Freedom (1974), Rooster of Barcels’s Little Red Book (1975) a subversive view of Mao’s Red Book, From Resistance to Liberation (1977) of which there were various authors are also mentioned. Proudly Together (1979)  was a right wing publication and is about the destruction of a statue.
Folk by Gageiro (1971) was not part of propaganda machine; The Lives of Others by Cunha (1974) was published but then suppressed; Eternally by Nazolino (1982) and Lisbon by Night by Pavao and “ist” by Silva are other notable books. An important book was London Diaries by Blaufuks (1994) that influenced many; East/West by Duarte (1994) was another book.
Next speaker shows Island of Mozambique (1995) by Silva and other books that influenced him. Large format photography, quiet images, moments about nothing, not spectacular. Penumbra (1996) by Nozolino, Peepshow by Duarte (1997) of which a new version has recently been published. There is Shit by Estrela (2006) which shows images of graffiti using the shit word
Things Here, and Things Still to Come byCortes (2011), The Perfume of the Ox and White Noise by Duarte (2011)which is about casinos. New World Parkville by Correia (2011), Island by Ramos (2014) from a portuguese photographer living in Australia who does not identify as being Portuguese.
The subject then turns to The Spanish Photobook at the present time and what is going on in the Spanish photobook scene. Cristina de Middel (such as Afronauts now also available as a photobook) has done very well along with others such as Ricardo Cares as well as previous books by Echague, books of photos with well known Spanish writers, Miserachs about Barcelona, books on feminism and Punk, Fauna by Foncuberta, Cristobal Hara’s An Imaginary Spaniard, David Jiminx Infinito etc
The first meeting of different photobook makers was in Madrid during 2011. Publishers and Bookshops also got involved helping to create a guide to self-publishing. “Books that are photos, photos that are books.” These days there is cheaper and better digital printing, online promotion, need for hardcopy in the digital age, no more huge postmodern prints; more peole becoming more aware of photography with Spanish photographers also being published abroard.
Cristina de Middel is becoming well known along with a new documentary style; her award winning book Afronauts was initially self-published; Julian Baron also a contemporary worker. There are a number (about 16) photobook clubs around Spain with publishers like Casa de Campo and Bside Books, a small publisher in Madrid, and others. The Pigs by Spottomo in 2014 is a present example. However, KJowasa one of the biggest bookshops in Spain is due to close partly due to internet but also because the owner is retiring and there is no one to step into his shoes.
Jesus Mico talks passionately but his English is not clear !!

Jesus Mico talks passionately but his English is not clear !!

Next speaker, does not know English well; he focuses on the photobook in Spain from the point of view of a small town in southernmost Spain. He reads his  talk about his passion for publishing photobooks in Spain and his strategies for doing so! For more information, one needs to search Kursala on the net for a downloadable PDF about scheme that sets out to publish photobooks on a limited basis.
(cf Le Bal on Facebook)
Ostala is a new prize winning photobook from Spain; others include Ouroboros, F.Clavarino Ukranian passport, Ricardo Casas a well known Spanish photobook maker while MADRID is the name of a photobook published that shows many images of children killed by Fascists.
Some of this stuff is hard to follow when the speaker has limited knowledge of English.
Photobook exhibition at Sofia?? 1999 – catalogue well known, might be reprinted
Reign of Sofia
No real history as yet of Portuguese photobooks with others existing that need recognition. Not found in public libraries. Overall, there is not much study of photography in Portugal.
There are lots, thousands in fact, of photobooks lying around in warehouses because sometimes only a few e.g. 50 out of 3,000 printed copies, get sold.It is difficult to say what the future of the photobook might be yet likely to be no different from that of other countries.
There is a need for domestic histories in the photobook which turns out to be the subject of the next talk which happens after a break that includes a cup of cold tea and a piece of cake. Looking at the books on sale, I meet Helen Warburton from Ffotogallery in Wales who is also an OCA tutor.
The next talks are introduced by Martin Parr.
Peter Mitchell who talks about his photo book about the area in which he has lived for most of his life

Peter Mitchell who talks about his photo book about the area in which he has lived for most of his life

Pete Mitchell is from Leeds who has lived in the same flat for 40 years. He initially shows a photograph of his parents in their back garden and other personal photos from a rescued family album. He uses his local post code as the title of his book which contains found photographs from his area, a photograph of his area by Denis Healey (the politician), a map of a local park that was never constructed, other old photos of his area, rubbish from his area, strange signs and other oddities, stuff being thrown out, old girlfriends, old press cutting about area, mention of a well known criminal on a sign advertising a newspaper, a photograph of a newly built house, an old brothel transformed that became a home for refugees and is now derelict, graffiti on walls, a photo by Don Mac Cullin, an image of a letter redirected, a poster from the street, painting on a wall, silk scarf on fence, demolished builing, another Yorkshire Ripper location, football sign, missing cat poster with mention that cat has been returned, broken clock on old wall! basically, he has been photographing rubbish in Leeds and this includes menus shoved through his letter box. There is much humour in this talk which contains interesting photographic records,  images of everyday life. There is a blog about him on the photo book week-end organiser website; his book costs £150.
PHOTO OF SEBASTIAN?
Sebastian Girard, the next speaker, studied architecture not photography; realised that the Kodak idea of “you take the photograph we do the rest!” to be an oversimplification. He shows some of his influences from photobooks. His first book self-published “Nothing but home” starts with an inventory of things left in a house twenty years before he restored it; his second book Desperate Cars shows damage done to cars in streets near to where he lived; another book is about fencing around houses; Club Tropicana is about club for women made from appropriated photos purchased from eBay; searched eBay for “stripper” images and got an odd collection e.g stripograms. He printed this correspondence with eBay along with †he images in †he book he made.
He did an important book on Mars, which was shown at Arles last year (which I saw and liked very much); it shows areas of Mars photographed in high resolution by NASA. When he did the book on Mars there were a lot of images to play with, thousands in fact; he was chosen for the job as an artist since it was considered that a scientist was not required. Wind has helped to sculpture the surface of Mars which is about the same age as the Earth. One is shown beautiful graphic landscapes! This talk revals an interesting development of a photographer; he likes Sergio Larrain.
Martin Parr (left) with Gerry Badger

Martin Parr (left) with Gerry Badger

The next talk, “Not in Parr and Badger” is about photobooks that Parr and Badger would liked to have included in their three volume trilogy but have not for one reason or another. this is also a talk about the nature of the photobook. There are lots of different kinds of photobooks – big:small, fixed pages and loose etc Photobooks read like a history of the world.
The trilogy is deliberately not pro-American, wanted to redress balance in Volume 3 which includes more American books as the photobook is thriving there. America is presently wobbling on the world stage which is good for artists there.
The session starts with a short movie, stills with sound, showing images of babies accompanied by the sound of babies crying. Evocative!
Volume 3 of the History of the Photobook which tends to give a page to each photobook along with images of it, is structured slightly differently to the previous volumes as it deals with nine topics. Many of the books could be included in more than one category.
Badger might have included “Letters from the people” by Lee Friedlander. A conceptual photobook, well designed by Mark Hoburn, that almost bankrupted the publisher; it recalls the work of Walker Evans and is still available
Grays The Mountain Sends by Brian Schutmatt; simply made by Silas Finch, this sold out almost immediately.
Antipersonnel. Badger not fond of conceptual art books neither is David Goldblatt who uses the word “arty-farty”. This book is about mines designed to kill and maim people; it photographs of such objects and their extraordinary shapes.
Edgar Martins “The Time Machine” with text by Geoff Dyer is a survey of hydro-electric stations, making them look beautiful, showing these extraordinary spaces; nowadays, only a few people are involved in running these stations.
Dust by Michelle Cera is composed of photographs from Albania by an Italian; shows people stranded in a landscape. Metaphor for Europe!? Photographer told to throw out boring photos and keep interesting ones.
Now Parr talks; he is doing a new book on Chinese photobooks which will be exhibited at Arles this year although the book is not due to be published until later. He shows us pages from an Iranian photobook that has not been seen widely before; the pages are quite dramatic in appearance with their layering of photographs and use of colour.
Mommy and Daddy Are Divorced by Perry and Lynch is what Parr describes as a naff book yet nevertheless of interest. It is quirky and frivolous and not to Badger’s taste.
Album de Oro (1956) is a propaganda book from Dominician Republic; the author was later murdered. Parr is working on a volume of photo propaganda books which exert a fascination on him.
Los Ultimos Dias De Franco about death of Franco contains screen grabs of his funeral on telly. There is a similar one on the crowning of the King of Spain.
Eamonn Doyle was a book that the photographer sent Parr and that he liked; most he gets sent end up in the rubbish bin.
Gerry Badger now talks again. “Jesus and the Cherries” is a book of strong portraits and interiors.
Oliver Sieber is someone Badger wanted to include in Volume 3. He has made an obsessive coverage of youth clubs; one of his books is about an Imaginary Club, a book that shows his work well.
The Pigs, a current hot book is not expensive to buy (about 10 Euro) is printed on cheap paper. PIGS is an abbreviation of “Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain” the poor men of Europe. It contains gorgeous photographs.
Tim Davis’ book “Quinto Quarto” (about a quarter of Rome where butchers are allowed to eat offal) contains graffiti from Rome that shows an alarming number of swastikas; it is a kind of secret archive
Martin Parr talks again, firstly about a book he found through the internet called A Yanks Memories of Calcutta by Clive Wadell, an American army photographer living in Calcutta just after World War 2 and just before Indian Independence. Good photographs of India from this period are uncommon.
Manchoukuo is an Epic example of a Japanese photobook from China, being propaganda published in Front magazine. It will be shown in it’s entirety at Arles this year.
The Night Climbers of Cambridge published in 1937 was photographed by a student and covers a tradition of students climbing buildings at night. It was reprinted in 1953 and again since.
“El Morocco’s Family album” about a club in New York from the 1930’s. Once the most famous club in New York.
China by Cartier-Bresson 1952 is an important book; a photo-diary of his trip to China. Helped by the Chinese novelist, authoress of “Love is a many splendoured thing” who also helped Marc Riboud.
Photobooks are fascinating historical documents as well as great aids to undertanding the history of photography.
There is a chance to ask questions and I pipe up, pointing out that the first book mentioned in the trilogy is a nature photography book; Anna Atkins’s account of Flora. However, not many if any nature books are mentioned after this. Badger and Parr admit to not really being interested in them and are not very impressed either by contemporary photographers like Nick Brandt who makes photographs of elephants that sell for high prices and prove very popular. Nature photobooks tend to be rather matter of fact and hence are not good for art; I am made aware that Parr and Badger’s history is quite subjective in nature and interested in a certain kind of photographic book in which there is a documentary element as well as an artistic one.
Are the 3 volumes of The photobook really a history? To a certain extent they are but the volumes are more about understanding photography. Photobooks are often conveying fictions but this does not mean they are not telling the truth; photographers are mostly trying to tell a truth about the world. These days many photographers being very personal with “me-me-me” books. Sophie Calle is an example of someone who makes auto-biographical books but they are always about something else too.
drinks before barbecue

drinks before barbecue

At about a quarter to eight, the talks are over and it is time for BBQ and music. I enjoy a stuffed pepper but then need to walk back to the station to take a train home to reach at a reasonable time to sleep and then start off early the next morning back to the Photobook week-end
CLICK HERE for Day Two of the Photobook week-end
CLICK HERE for Day One of the Photobook week-end

Bristol Photobook week-end Day Three

On my way to the station, I divert past the ATM in town to get money as I consider a number of photo books I might purchase.

There is Hackney Wick by Stephen Gill which is worth £250 on Amazon new but is being offered for £3,000 second hand; I can not get a price for the one on sale at the photo book week-end and prefer to purchase a copy of another Stephen Gill book called Archaeology in Reverse which is snapshots of the area before it was developed for the 2012 Olympic Games in London; according to Stephen nearly all these locations have now disappeared. I want it for inspiration in my project to document the area being redeveloped to the south-east of Wellington.

I mean to buy Love on the Left Bank which is going for £25 but get caught up in artist’s books such as Empty Bottles (£10) about a photographic project in Beijing where I expect to be for the first time within a week. There is is the republished Dutch Photobooks volume which I can get through Amazon and other interesting volumes life River: Winter by Jem Southam (beautiful colour landscape style images printed without distortion on good paper) for £45 as well as Joan Fontucuberta’s The Nature of Photography; the photography of nature. instead, I buy for £40 ( a bit over-priced I feel for a book that has not been bound but what one might expect at an art price) which is a gift for Palyang and Hans and a Paul Seawright book for £10 so that I can have something of his to refer to.

WassinkLundgren ??
Ruben Lundgren’s “Empty Bottles” ??
Is Creation in PB’s history?
What about Frans Lanting?
any other nature books included … ??
River Jem Southam
The nature of photography; the photography of nature by Fontcuberta
entrance to the South Bank Club in Bristol

Helen Warburton

I have another chat with Helen Warburton, the OCA tutor, who works at the Ffotogallery bookstore uptsairs. She kindly gives me a freebie, a book of graduate work, which is something the college advises us to look at. This is quite an interesting publication with introdutory essays that comes in a soft slipcase and is called “Leaving the Building.” The University of South Wales has had a good repuation for photography, mainly documentary, and this book is concerned with photographic art work. In his introduction, David Drake talks about the rise of photography as art and the way in which student work has the capacity to reveal currents in photography as students seek to resolve issues in their work. The degree show is a pivotal point in their lives and the work is equally important; here artist’s statements accompany the work. It is a reminder of what I am likely to be facing in a few year’s time.
Anoukh from Holland

Anoukh from Holland

The talks start with Martin Parr briefly introducing a female Dutch photographer, Anoukh Kruitof, who has so far published eight photobooks; she graduated in 2003.
Her first book with another photographer was The Black Hole (2006) which offers different interpretations of what a black hole might be. A lot of pages are just black! The book is a different interpretation to an exhibition in a gallery; the photobook is a different medium, form of expression.
Her second book published in 2009 could be pulled apart and used to make an installation if the reader liked; a physical experience that came in an A4 sized plastic bag.
The next was short. “The Daily Exhaustion”, a free Zine, a little newspaper with a lot of self-portraits. It was not stapled together and was non-serious in approach.
Lang Zal Ze Leven (in neon lights on cover) means Happy Birthday was about her experiences on the edge of a mental institution which also housed criminals and the elderly. She was an artist in residence, approaching people who were having birthdays, interviewing them and then organising a birthday party for them; the patient could choose music and food. In one case reunited someone with their brother after several years. Not so much about photography but what was going on around. There was the use of photos and text together in an informal way. Made little exhibitions for patients which she rephotographed to present to the patient and also to later include in the book. One patient was difficult as he wanted to smoke dope and later tried to assault her and refused to sign the necessary contract with the photographer; a complicated relationship in which he stalked her and had to be legally restrained. The book focuses on the different people and the record of the way they celebrated their birthdays. She had an assistant who photographed this since she was busy with making arrangements. Photographing a birthday a natural thing to do.
One book she self-published; “A head with Wings“. Alex Soth came across this book and liked it; decided to help promote it. Contains photographs that can be extended by unfolding them. Photographed a man suffering from psychosis in different situations. Worked with a designer. Published by Little Brown. Photos interact with text.
Pixelstress is a more recent book which she finds a bit ugly; made while she was living in New York. Made images from photographs which were blown up to pixel level. Some pages were blown up into prints and framed, being sold on the street. There is some interesting dialogue about these photographs in the book, a result of conservations on Wall Street in New York. Some photos of people looking at photos. She asked people to give feedback on value of work and one man did get back to her with photo of the art work in their home; their dog was featured to one side of it.
Presently she has 3 photobooks she wants to be published. This is called Untitled and is about the proliferation of photographs, seeing too many images that we can’t process. She managed to find someone who has never taken a photograph. “Iv’e taken too many photos, I have never taken a photo” was the catchphrase used. The photographs were hung on a ceiling rather than a wall so people had to look up. This has been presented as an intereactive exhibition but wants to make a book out of it also. The images were significantly chosen by someone who had never taken a photo. Presently a Zine. Makes one think about he way photography works.
She is about to launch a book! www.stresspress.biz a website for her books and possibly those of others as well as links to relevant sites.
Bilder von der Strasse (1982-2012) is a project undertaken by Joachim Schmid. Can one really take other people’s photos and use them? As far as JS is concerned, he has found a photo and decided to use it as it now belongs to him.
JS uses found photographs and makes art with them! He did not want to create a “best of” book; got turned down by a number of publsihers which was understandable since he would not have wanted to publish it if he as a publisher! He decided to self publish via Print On Demand which allowed him to make a series of books.
Working on a typology of snapshots using images from Flickr, checking recently uploaded images and downloading a stock which amounted to some 30,000. Revealed a new approach to photography current today e.g. flash in mirror, close up selfies, roads from car interior, airports, airline meals, space-time, satnav images, views of Mona Lisa, first shotever made, Hotel Rooms, Hands, Geology, Gender etc Series alled Other People’s Photographs. Not many people ready to buy all these volumes. Started making digital slideshows of them also but attention span only a few minutes for most people.
Picture Book (2011/12) is another venture. Working in a time window because intermediaries such as Flickr and Blurb change their methodds of production without warning nd hence consistency an issue.
JS has been cutting photographs out of magazines, books, newspapers for as long as he can remember. Wonders what he might do with them all. Realises he has a lot of crime related imagery!
Another more recent project is from the 19080s when he did not have the technology to process; concerned wiht front page photographs from newspapers. Analysed them with a kind of spreadsheet. Made a set of brochures which come in a box.
Visited Toronto university where media studies started under Marshall Mac Luhan; there is a building still there where it happened called “The Coach House”. JS searched this name via “google” and got 1000’s of results but only 2 of the building. He analysed these results and presented it as “An Inventory”
The ABC of Popular Desire (2013) is based on popular interenet searches; a method to catalogue popular desires. Aware of U.S. domination of the internet. www.schmid.wordpress.com Something he would like to update every year.
“X marks the spot” is another series in which people photograph at or near an X spot. For example, where Kennedy was shot for which there are a number of places. A hilarious series of images have been collected by JS from the webcam covering these spots where people want to be photographed at a place where someone was shot. What reason did people have to make these images? Just the thing to do!
Picture Library 2014, more recent work. Photographs of a coffee cup that never gets washed, a woman posing in the pants she wears every day.
JS seems earnest but obviously has a great sense of humour. Is he a photographer? An artist? He does not care! Can’t get a job in a Post Office anymore.
Afterwards, I buy a copy of JS’s book “X marks the spot” for £12 which JS signs; it is an amusing book yet I am surprised that there is no mention in it of what the book is about (the spot where Kennedy was assassinated) as this makes it harder for the reader to understand the work. However, the general meaning of the work is perhaps best not pinpointed even though the work is about a pinpoint!?
Chat with Sebastian whose exhibition called Mars I saw at Arles last year.
Stephen Gill, photographer and photo book maker

Stephen Gill, photographer and photo book maker

Stephen Gill is a photographer, originally from Bristol, whose name I am familiar with but whose work I am not. He sees his camera as a hoover rather than a creative tool!?
SG to talk about projects that have surfaced in book form. Not a chronological approach yet begins with an image of someone from 1998 to 200 dressed in a blue top against a bluish background from 20 years ago called Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits because that was the music the person was listening to; all portraits named after tracks person was listening to. Intersting combination of text and image. These are portraits of people listening to music, another one was of people pushing trolleys around the time he had to get a tolley himself for his camera equipment.
Another series of people on train travelling between same destinations.
Photography’s ability to peel and lift! Photographing billboards from behind but calling the photos after the product advertised. Hilarious images owing to titles.
Photographs of people looking at maps in street.
First self-published book called “Invisible” using money from commissions. About people wearing visibility jackets because it makes one anonomous. Mark Haworth-Booth wrote an introduction.
Hackney Wick” about a place near to where he lived.
Pictures made over a 3 or 4 yer period using a camera bought from a local market of that market. Not good quality but evocative. Exhibited at the Photographer’s Gallery where the most common question was … where were these photographs made?
Found it liberating to work without or beyond the constraints of technology which was being emphasised at this time owing to the recent advent of digital.
Buried” is a collection of work that contains images that had been buried for sometime; interesting and unpredictable results that decrease original impact of the image.
“Hackney Flowers” contains a confusion of scale created through using double exposures.
“Hackney Wick” obessession almost continued in book focusing on London being recreated for Olympic Games. potography of things Archaeology in Reverse. Not aiming to record landmarks just ephemeral things.
Another work around Schumann, the composer and musician! Cycled over books!
A book Geology about photographing rocks in his area which he brought home and photographed.
Talking to ants” for Brighton Biennial in 2010 involved dropping tiny objects onto camera. Made in East London. Did a lot of experimentation. Used 6by6 cameras using a kalaedescope mirror device. Found making this work very exciting. Unpredictable! Effects are varied and interesting.
SG seems to be playing down he photographic image as an accurate record or a powerful object beyond questioning.
“Best before End” is another SG book. Further play with film. The results are imaginative enough not to be banal but what about the human element? Related to soft drinks which have been used to alter the effects of the print development. SG enjoys process! Used a lot of different energy drinks in the making of these images. Mixing energy drinks with developers proved very unhealthy as noxious fumes resulted.
Photography’s great dscriptive strengths – SG does not want to undermine this but likes to get in through the back door.  Deconstructing the photographic object.
Coming up for Air” contains pictures taken in Japan. Cover painted upon. Man versus machine. Painted over cover of each book but rather too exhausting a process. No Orwellian reference here rather about modern life and the way it tends to engulf one; the need to transcend it perhaps.
Self-published because after looking at a lot of books, saw how concept and production did not tend to merge very well.
SG has a small online booshop with a friend, Richard. His books surface in different places such as art galleries.
student from M.A. in Plymouth tells me of symposium at Plymouth 26-27’th June
also wednesday evening talks open to public; good speakers
“The Future of the Photobook” is the final topic of discussion
Michael Mack, former Steidl employee, now running his own company
Dewi Lewis, publisher of photography books

Dewi Lewis, publisher of photography books

Dewi Lewis who started Cornerhouse Publications and threafter his own, Dewi Lewis Publishing
Thys started with a storm at Arles in 2007 who is also involved in publishing.
Stephen Gill a photographer who creates art books.
Michael Mack sees a more extreme division between analogue and digital in photobook arena. The arts community less engaged with book publishing but it is changing. Idea that the digitally published book will overwhelm the physical book unlikely to happen soon. Changing to digital for the sake of it not productive.
Michael maks APPS but does not see this as the way to go; have to be developed for particular kinds of software such as MAC or PC. Difficult to get APPS certified. Apple refused The Holy Bible by Olivier and Chanarin deciding to censor content. Looking at other ways to get books out there.
Dewi Lewis has been going for almost half a century. Aware of massive shifts particularly recently. Bookshops used to buy books now they take them on sale or return. Can no longer definitely presell books; large corporate bookstores like Waterstones have a rather limited number of books. These days, buyers often purchase without seeing the book which is important with photobooks. Printers go out of business regularly; photobooks used to sell by 2 or 3,000 copies now usually only 1,000 copies. Offset printing becoming a craft area.
Thyss started out self-publishing on a small scale basis. Not easy to get a book into stores around the world. Develops a book around a body of work.
SG owns Nobody Books. Grew out of his editorial work while doing “bread and butter” work. As his work grew in interest, it was a way to get his work out to people. “Hackney Wick” was a book that someone else was ready to sponsor the publication of.
If you are an unknown photographer then probably you’ll have to put some money into the work. Mack never takes money from photographers to publish, Dewi Lewis has done particularly as Arts Council grants no longer come his way though he still relies on sponsorship but never had a photographer pay for all production costs; he turns down books even when the money is offered to cover all costs and accepts books that come with no sponsorship as his concern is whether he can get money back from the making of the book. An increasing number of publishers ready to publish photographer’s work while taking more money than necessary with little intention of selling the work. Mack thinks it would be easy just to publish known photographers but wants to publish new work also.
Amazon is the biggest online seller. Mack has shut the door on Amazon because they have no real interest in books, its’ all about profit rather like Estate Agents. Mack would offer Amazon his books on 40% of costs non-returnable which Amazon would sell at a 30% discount and make a loss which would mean nothing to them but would undermine Mack whose stance attracts many other booksellers. SG sells directly to clients; does not want to be too involved in sales; his books sometimes appear on Amazon. Thyss sells through his website but again not a major part of it; he also approaches people interested in his work.
“Kickstarter” campaigns can prove useful with even publishers like Aperture using them. A good way to get the necessary money. “Emphasis” a crowd sourcing portal is a bad example as the company went bust. Don’t be too trusting in one’s keeness to be published, a fault of some photographers. Personal networks are helpful. Kickstarter projects often do fail. Most photobooks do not sell without only about 5% doing really well.
Blurb publishing can work at least to promote one’s work and abiities.
http://www.photoBooKbristol.com – the website for this event uses text in an interesting way.
Serialising one’s work in a magazine or journal still possible yet one is no longer going to be paid for it. Newspaper coverage can greatly enhance scope of work. A reliable blogger can help also. Serialisation can help produce funds for the photographer yet this kind of publicity may not massively increase sales; intelligent comment by people like Alex Soth for instance, can do a lot more than mere publicity.
Some of form of digital delivery might help push out the physical book? There is not really a digital delivery mechanism as yet. The longevity of the physical book, a copy of which is by law stored in the British Library, is still an important factor in the attraction and appeal of the physical book.
Jessa

Jessa

The photo book week-end finally draws to a close about midday on the sunday with goodbyes from Jessa who has been  making the announcements and Rudi of RRB Photobooks who planned the festival, it being his idea and conception !!
There is another Photobook interest organisation in Brighton called Photobookshow which will feature again at the Brighton Biennial.