‘My favourite Photobook’ exhibiiton

As part of the festivities Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper are organising for World Photobook day in Brisbane, they are asking for participation from photobook lovers the world over. Here is how you can get involved…

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

Email images and text to <mailto:Greatdivide@a1.com.au> by Sunday, October 11, 2015.  

Cheers , Doug

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The Photobook Club Rochester ( #RochesterPBC )

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.

The organisers:

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.

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World Photobook Day 2015

The day is almost upon us – October 14th, World Photobook Day. For the past few years all sorts of events have taken place to mark the anniversary of Anna Atkins ‘Photographs of British Algae’ and the birth of the photobook. This year is no exception, already Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper have organised a great day at Maud Creative in Brisbane as well as encouraging all to share photobook selfies (#PhotobookDay). Bonifacio Barrio Hijosa has created the most awesome gif for the day…

…and I will be running an event in Coventry which is open to as many as can fit in the room (email matt@photobookclub.org ). 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.

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I like it, what is it? Ron Jude’s ‘Lago’

Disclosure note: I requested and received a review copy of Lago from the publishers, MACK

Ron Jude’s ‘Lago’ is a bit of a mystery to me, but one in which intrigue manages to outweigh frustration. Putting aside the typical blurb/statement that either whets your whistle or grinds your gears for its high score on the bullshit meter…

If one considers these traces to be a coded language of some sort, Jude’s act of photographing and piecing them together becomes a form of cryptography – like a poetic archeology that, rather than attempting to arrive at something conclusive, looks for patterns and rhythms that create congruity out of the stuttering utterances of the visible world.


… the work itself is really worth a look. There are few similarities with Lick Creek Line, at least in relation to sequence and rhythm of the book, instead it might bring to mind Gregory Halpern’s ‘A’ – seemingly disjointed, somewhat claustrophobic and reading a little like the stream-of-consciousness-style books we have seen becoming popular of late. What interests me most in the photobook are the separations of images, structure of the book and the repetitions of subjects and image styles – as I spent time with the work I felt more and more that the order dictated by Western reading (left to right) was a convenience as apposed to necessity.


This book read like the internet – loosely structured and waiting for connections to be imposed. Saying this, it is certainly not as try-hard in its random nature as the likes of Roe Ethridge – Jude has, through recognisable American photographic tropes and attention to shape, texture and colour, given small links and suggestions throughout. It is though, the sound recordings that accompany the book made by Joshua Bonnetta that really bring it to life…

Accessed via a download from the MACK site, these two soundscapes (a side A and B) offer an immersive experience, giving voice to characters suggested in images and overlaying what I can only describe as a more ‘homely’ and relatable narrative onto the rather desolate images. The recordings pose so many questions about ‘reading’ that it is hard to know where to start or whether I should even be attempting to answer them – for starters, each recording is just over 20 minutes – am I taking shortcuts by spending less time with the book? The two sides – should I read the book one time with each? Sides A and B – reminding me perhaps to flip the book – start one at one end and one at another? Should headphones be used? How important are these recordings? The must be downloaded from a link so they automatically remove us from an isolating experience with the book.


I appreciate some of these questions are stupid, the use of the audio is of course open to interpretation, but some discussion surely must be present. Not least for me because my burning question from the Lago experience is – what is it? The experience I had in reading and listening was greater than the parts – but it was also disruptive as I navigated the book and sometimes skipped sections of audio on the computer. I wonder why this isn’t a photofilm, and then I wonder whether a photofilm would have held attention for the time the book does.

I found this a really exciting project and one which I really hope will generate some lively discussion both from readers and from those involved in the publication itself.

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Lessons from Morocco

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.

11952006_10206688515225138_2471930423207877283_nThese 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.



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Photobook Workshop in Casablanca

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. 11831639_10152985628246835_7613163850113137134_n

Participants will leave with a dummy book and the knowledge, as well as basic equipment, to take the next steps in bringing a photobook into existence. For more information, see the event page here.

This event is supported by the DMLL at Coventry University


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Photobook Bristol – a brief review

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.


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The Photobook and Dance in Barreiro

Great to hear about this experimental workshop and reading session in Barreiro that looks to explore links between photography and dance. Thanks to Sofia Matos for the report and images…

24st may | Auditório Municipal Augusto Cabrita

Studies for the Impossible Body

Magda Fernandes (Imagérie – Casa de Imagens)

Studies for the Impossible Body is a series of little artist books that document the making of the Impossible Body project, developed in a photography workshop, in partnership with the photographer Susana Paiva and the Olga Roriz Dance Company, in Lisbon.

In pursuit of an elusive territory, that could be inhabited by photography and dance simultaneously, there were many dead ends and bifurcations along the way. These books are diaries of experimentation and exercise books at the same time, and they speak, through images and words, of discovery, as well as of the infinity and the poetry that emanate from the dancing body.


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