Photobooks & presents and interrogates key themes of the contemporary photobook — from the medium’s post-digital and post-photographic situation, to the purposes of publishing, issues of accessibility and the act of reading. Informed by extensive research, interviews with key individuals from the photobook ecology* and his experience with The Photobook Club project, Johnston examines current trends and practices, emphasising connections (made and missed) between makers and readers. Ultimately, this book proposes a critical framework for considering our uses and encounters with the photobook, calling for a recalibration of a maker-centric discourse to address the communicative potential of the medium: aligning making, with making public.

*Including: Alejandro Acin, Eman Ali, Mathieu Asselin, Sarah Bodman, Bruno Ceschel, Natasha Christia, Tiffany Jones,  Michael Mack, Amak Mahmoodian, Lesley Martin, Tate Shaw, Doug Spowart, Anshika Varma, Amani Willett and the 10×10 Photobobooks team.

Buy the book direct here.

Photobooks & has been acquired and is available in a number of libraries and collections for non-purchase reading. If you would like to suggest a local library, collection or archive email me here.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Library of the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid
Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Colleciton, Chicago
V&A National Art library, London
British Library, London
Rijksmuseum Research Library, Amsterdam

Shortlisted for the Prix du livre historique 2022

Photobooks & Prompts follows on from Photobooks &: a critical companion to the contemporary medium (Onomatopee, 2021) and seeks to distil and activate some of the most significant questions into a new form which can be distributed simply. Though the questions presented are a result of research in and around the photobook ecology, there are overlaps with the artist’s book and other closely related codex-oriented outputs. In an effort to encourage inter-medium connections and open up conversation ‘*book’ is adopted in place of ‘photobook’.

The Photobooks & Prompts publication is available for DIY Riso printing. It is hoped this will reduce transport resources and facilitate autonomy in local printing to choose colours and papers for the work. The file is free (and CC licensed) and the resulting booklet-posters are similarly intended to be free.

The layered PDF can be downloaded here.

More information can be found in the guide here.

‘Photobooks &: a critical companion to the contemporary medium’ was published by Onomatopee in 2021. The book, which can be purchased here, features a number of reflections from interviews I conducted with individuals connected with the medium. With a view to progressing the discourse around the photobook, I have sought to make a number of transcriptions from these conversations (as well as some that didn’t feature in the book) available online for interested readers. 

Click on the interviews below to open (or download) the PDF and please get in touch if you find them helpful, or are using them in classes or other spaces. Interviews in colour are already accessible, those in black and white are coming soon.