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! 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. 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. – 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.


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.

5 thoughts on “Bristol Photobook week-end Day Three

  1. Pingback: Bristol Photobook week-end Day Two | Amano photographic studies

  2. Pingback: PHOTOBOOK Bristol | Amano photographic studies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s