Great to hear from Moritz Neumüller about the possibility of setting up a Photobook Club Aarhus — something which would extend the great conversations that happen around Aarhus Photobook Week throughout the year. If anyone is interested in attending, or has any ideas/locations etc. to share, please get in touch with Moritz.
Elsewhere, on Wednesday 22nd I will be presenting the Photobook Club’s Box of Books at an exciting conference called ‘Books and the City‘ in Maastricht. Along with a discussion of the box and intent, I will highlight the fantastic variety of events and outcomes of Photobook Club communities all over the world. It is only a brief paper but will be a good way to begin a more thorough survey of the Photobook Club, its organisers, attendees, conversations and locations.
Over 2 million folks reached via the #WorldPhotobookDay tag on Twitter and Instagram is pretty awesome, but this report from Gabriela Cendoya (who has a great blog, here), a collector from Spain is so fantastic to hear about. One of the goals for this year’s event was to engage with non-photobook lovers and here Gabriela has certainly done that…
Images from Gabriela’s library
This year’s photo book day has been special. For the second time, it was an open house day, for all the people to come and enjoy the books.
Two friends came in the morning, wanting to see some books, planning to publish a book themselves, and looking for ideas and cool tips. It was nice seeing them and talking about their project, as they seemed to enjoy lots of books. One of them is a teacher, and we agreed that she would come back with some of her students to see some books and discuss about them. I think it is a great idea, and I really can’t wait to see it happen.
What happened in the afternoon was even greater for me. I live in a rather small town, a fishermen town. That doesn’t mean there is not much cultural life around, there is a nice public library and some interesting art galleries. But not much on photobooks, despite the fact that we are near Donostia, where we have a Photobook Club, and a very nice photo book shop…
Well, I invited some neighbors to come and see my house and books, explaining it was a day to celebrate. None of them knew exactly what was what we usually call a photobook. Some brought nice books with old pictures of Donostia, and other beautiful places, wondering if that was all right…And of course, it was! But then I showed them some of Julión Barón books, and well, that was something else! Rinko Kawauchi was somehow easier to love, and Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places a very good start for a very nice and rich conversation. Nami, by Syoin Kajii, was a beautiful way to feel in communion with each others.
In the end, it was a wonderful day, for me at last, and I hope, for all the people who came. Photobooks are a world within themselves, a world to share with everybody. Thanks, and see you next year!
Great news from Thousandfold in Manila, Philippines who will be celebrating the anniversary of the first photobook with book launches, an inaugural photobook club meeting and a bunch more. You can find out about the event and RSVP here…
Along with the rest of the world, Thousandfold, as the first photobook library in Manila, invites you to join in celebrating The Photobook, born in 1843. October 14th marks the anniversary of the purchase by the British Museum of the first known photobook: Photographs of British algae. Cyanotype impressions, by Anna Atkins.
To celebrate World Photobook Day in Coventry we will be hosting a book club meeting at the University on 14th Oct with photobook dummies and photobook favourites. The latest ‘box of dummies’ will be in attendance and I am asking folks to bring along their favourite photobook.
The event is open to all but there will be a limit on numbers so please rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen Terry Building Coventry University 6pm – 8pm then pub
Throughout the day at MAUD CREATIVE we will present an exhibition featuring the covers of the favourite photobooks selected by photographers from all over the country. Alongside the print of the photobook cover will be a ‘Why I like this book’ statement and a portrait of the photographer reading the book in their favourite place.
To participate in this exhibition all you need to do is contribute by sending to us the following:
A photo of your favourite photobook’s cover
A photo of you reading the book in a place special to you – in bed, a comfy chair, in the backyard under a tree, at work or in a bath!! (A photobook selfie)
A few words, a paragraph (or two) maybe, as to why you like this book
You can use any technology to make the photos and any style or no-style – keep it as simple or as complex as you like.
We will print out these photos and your statement and Blu-tacked to the gallery wall for the duration of the World Photobook Day’s activities. This material may also be formed into a print-on-demand photobook as a record of the event. The book cover images may be selected for inclusion in a photobook-making project that will take place on the day. Some images and texts may be used on social media to celebrate the event.
Should you accept our invitation we will need:
Your book cover and portrait photos
JPEGS @ 300ppi, compression ‘8’
Image size around 13x18cm
The text file can be a Microsoft Word or a text file written into the email
Rikard Osterlund and Tracey Affleck have just launched the Photobook Club Rocherster with an opening night on October 15th at INTRA. The event is free but sign up required here. More information from Rikard below…
Come along to an informal evening all about photo books. This is the first of what we are hoping will become a monthly get-together where you might be inspired by something you haven’t seen before.
To kick things off we will talk about ‘The Americans’, Robert Frank’s groundbreaking book from 1958. You are welcome to BYOP (Bring Your Own Photobook – bought or made) for everyone to look at and chat about. Anyone with an interest in the photobook format is welcome.
Date: Thursday 15th October
Time: 20.00-22.00 (turn up a bit earlier)
Location: INTRA, 337 – 341 High Street, Rochester, Kent ME1 1DA
Hashtag away on social media #PhotoBC #RochesterPBC
We have been wanting to do this for a long time and can’t wait to get a group of likeminded people together.
Rikard Österlund is a freelance photographer with an irrational love for photobooks, with many years experience as a photography lecturer at UCA and London College of Fashion.
Tracy Affleck is a photographer/artist and educational facilitator who works primarily with found photographs.
…and I will be running an event in Coventry which is open to as many as can fit in the room (email email@example.com ). There will be other events popping up all over the shop but right now there is something you can do.
“I saw this and thought of you” – Share your books
It is easy to excite fellow photobook nerds with the contents of my bookshelf. Much harder to interest my colleagues, family and friends who have little interest in the medium itself – though I try, often. Many times my waxing lyrical about design and production falls on deaf ears – not that this suggests a need for further discussion and education – a more powerful force is at work here. The books that resonate are those that the reader likes – straight up – likes. It might be the project, it might be the book, it might be the photographs or the cover – who cares.
When I manage to excite someone with a photobook, someone for whom the photobook is not the perfect medium of artistic expression, I have achieved something. Not only in extending the reach of the photobook, bringing work to a new audience, but also in overcoming my own photobook snobbery. I still get something from this encounter too – the book in question might have fallen out favour and found itself relegated to the edges of the shelf, but hearing someone speaking about it passionately, and unfettered by judgement helps remind me why I bought it in the first place.
So, this photobook day, spread the love by sharing something you think someone will like, not something you think they should like. Oh, and if you get a chance, let us know the book you chose and what the reaction was #PhotobookDay.
I spent the first weekend of the month running a Photobook workshop in Casablanca, Morocco funded by Coventry University’s DMLL and with a great group of students. Some of these participants were photographers, some had studied at art schools, some were passionate amateurs but all were super engaged and I learned a lot…
Images by Daniel Donnelly
The desire to make is great
– while there is some critique of a maker culture which undervalues curation and debate in favour of production, it was clear that the transition from screen to paper and images into book brought about genuine excitement.
Sometimes sharing is separating
– Daniel Donnelly (with whom I ran the workshop) and I were keen to involve an online and social element to the project – to tweet particular moments, Facebook particular questions etc – a way to engage with communities beyond the room. It was apparent though that this took away from the intense experience of the session, removed participants and their attention – it was instead used as refference and record for the ‘real life’ experience. We didn’t push it, and I now notice how these spaces have become a great repository – extending the project longitudinally.
Competition isn’t healthy
– competition pushes us, it is a useful element of the learning process – I call bullshit – it was so refreshing to see people truly pleased for one another and their works. I want to find out how to inject some of this into an education system that constantly seeks to place people in competition – either by age, institution, or through high fees and low employment options.
These were exciting books
– it is hard to say without appearing patronising, getting giddy over the exotic or promoting the location-based photobook mining we have seen over the last ten years BUT these were exciting books. Techniques and structures were used without knowledge of their reference to previous works – they were used as they were appropriate. Images were treated as possibilities in the book and the book was treated as a possibility for the images.
These folks would love some books
– it isn’t easy to come by photobooks in Casablanca, in fact it is almost impossible, yet their is a community hungry to see new works and old. I have been sending books to Morocco for some time, and will continue to do so, but maybe think about the next time you send out X% of your edition to reviewers and collectors – send some to a library, community or school – it will likely be far more useful.
Really excited to be running a workshop with Daniel Donnelly in Casablanca this September (4th – 6th) for locals, both professional, amateur and interested. The 3 day workshop will focus on connecting with an audience through edit and design but will also feature a binding tutorial.
Back from Photobook Bristol and getting a chance to look back through notes and reflect on conversations, themes and format. For a quick review of the event from someone involved, have a look at Colin Pantall’s blog in which he celebrates openness and a feelgood atmosphere, and for the programme, see here. It is hard to disagree with the feelgood festival atmosphere – it was clearly a celebration of photography and it’s relationship with the book but there was a distinct lack of substance or openness.
Speakers for the most part were of a particular set and without the inclusion of some newer blood in the likes of Abril, Pez, Degiorgis, Atkinson and Bush, you would very much feel as though you had paid someone to bring all their friends together for a chinwag. Some of the presenters were fascinating to hear from (Kessels and Mitchell in particular) but spoke little about the book, only occasionally and briefly mentioning a publication or design choice. Perhaps with some reorganisation of the available lineup there still could have been more engaging sessions – I would certainly love to hear more about Daniel Meadows thoughts on publication, digital storytelling and community engagement rather than what was essentially a presentation of a project. Similarly Erik Kessels was brought in for a feel good and humorous ending but at the expense of an exploration into his very playful use of the photographic book.
The price of the event should not be overlooked, most folks having paid £115 for the event (including some good food) – as a funding model it works but ultimately degrades the conversations and interactions – essentially the ticket price acts as a barrier for a whole bunch of people who might be less enamoured by the book than the super fans in the room and thus might offer some resistance or alternatives to the celebratory occasion. Despite the rather predictable demographic in the room it would have been interesting to include the audience more often. A large number of sessions had no room at all for Q+A, others only 3 or 4 questions were put forward. The inclusion of a hashtag or digital community space might allow for some additional layers of conversation that could then be expanded on in the break sessions.
Some of the more interesting panels that attempted to address what might be problematic areas of the photobook world (‘PhotoBiblioMania’ and ‘Let’s talk about Money’) were buried in the early morning slots at 09.30. It is worth highlighting Jeff Ladd and Lewis Bush as two voices on these panels that presented alternative views and posited some challenging questions, though the former was heckled for his. A personal lowlight was the ‘First Photobook’ panel with Eamonn Doyle, Kate Nolan and Kazuma Obara, chaired by Colin Pantall – The panel was a great opportunity to unpick the ‘success’ of three recent works in relation to the author’s intent. Unfortunately success was seen as the selling out of a book and Pantall failed to interrogate answers such as ‘I am glad it’s sold out so I can move on with the next thing’ (Nolan), a token question about the sustainability of the photobook world was included, again not in any depth.
Interestingly, both Parr and David Solo, in a separate panel were somewhat negative about consideration of the photobook in online spaces, Facebook groups etc. There is a great deal of truth here in that these platforms can often generate self promotion and repetitive and meaningless confirmation as well as nepotism but I struggle to think of Photobook Bristol any differently.
What was most telling about the event was that the word ‘market’ was used more often than the word ‘audience’, and this is a problem for the event itself. There is as yet no identity or intention for Photobook Bristol, it is not a conference or a book fair, describing itself as a ‘festival’ – and so perhaps it is unfair to expect more than was delivered. I would be keen to hear views from those that went or any that tried to watch form afar.