The publication of photographs in the form of a photobook could help to spread one’s work to a larger or more widespread audience. Whereas an exhibition can really only be attended by those physically able to visit it, a photobook or other publication can be viewed by anybody anywhere. If an aim of a photographers work is to spread a message or try to bring about some sort of social change, for example, then a mass publication photobook could assist. I don’t feel my project necessarily fits into this category of photobook.
Martin Parr and Gerry Badger write about “two photobook markets: a small deluxe market catering to the fine-book collector, and the regular market, catering to the photo-enthusiast”[i]. I wonder whether my project is leaning more towards the former, and whether if I were to publish my work whether a small batch would suit the tone of the project more aptly.
From this week’s forum task in which we were asked to share photos of our books/bookshelves it is clear that books and photobooks are still relevant and desired by many of us. None of our collections were particularly small and from the comments on my post I know I’m not the only one who loves the feel of books. The tactile nature of books and being able to physically touch something that is really only visual really heightens the meaning of the work and, for me at least, intensifies the experience of the images. My project is about escaping the urban environment and desk bound lives by being in the ocean and surfing as a means of rebalancing and reconnecting. In thinking about that I feel that a small publication could suit the work. Something that implies that the book and the images within are to really be thought about and considered. Perhaps even treasured – in the same way family photo albums (early forms of photobooks) allow people to hold a photograph and experience the emotions connected to holding that photograph. I personally love a photobook with a tactile cover, something cloth based for example, and I think this also would really suit my work.
In a second forum this week we were asked to share sketches of ideas for how our publications would look. I’ve had this idea to have the smaller black & white images on the left hand page, and on the right larger colour images that would be folded over so that they have to be unfolded to be seen – photo of the sketch below (unknown before a 1:1 a few weeks ago, but this would be in the style of Nicolo Degiorgis’ photobook “Hidden Islam”[ii]).
The feedback seemed positive, and that curiosity would encourage viewers to open each of the folded images. So I have mocked up a couple of pages in a notebook to see how this would look/feel – photo below & at top. Having done this mock up I do think this is a style of publication I want to pursue. It would be interesting, I think, to have a mixture of fold-out images and some pages with non-folded images, otherwise I think the novelty/formula may get quite tiresome.
I feel like this week I’ve been looking at the photobooks in my collection in a new way. In particular Patrick Trefz’s “Surfers’ Blood” photobook[iii]. This is a gorgeous photobook, with a lovely tactile matt hardcover, Ruscha-style text on the front, and full of a huge variety of images – colour and black & white. The variety of images is something that has really stuck with me. The photographs are not solely portraits, there’s also in-water action shots, still life images, documentary style images, landscapes…..combined they really give an idea of the breadth of surfing culture/lifestyle. It has made me reconsider slightly the images I’ve taken so far and that they do seem quite limited in terms of subject matter. I want to work on expanding the subject matter of my images going forwards.
Something else that has stuck with me, is that there’s hardly any images of women in the book – and the images of women that are there, are not photographs of female surfers surfing. Considering that this isn’t an historical publication I do find that quite surprising. I was in Devon this past weekend and saw a local surf photobook/magazine/publication by a locally based photographer in one of the surf shops. Now there’s quite a lot I could say about it in terms of production and content, but my biggest takeaway and the aspect that really stuck with me, was that in the whole 111 pages there is precisely 2 photos of women; one a portrait of someone, unclear whether she’s a surfer or not, and the second is on the last page, which seems like a bit of an afterthought, in a “tribute” to “Surfer’s Wives”. The definition of that being a “a lady who doesn’t moan at you whenever you want to go for a surf”[iv]. The implication being that only men are surfers and their devoted wives just stay at home. In 2017. Wow.
Anyway, back to my project. Overall this week I feel I don’t yet have the amount or variety of photographs to put together a publication. I can see how in the future a publication/photobook could fit into my project and help the viewer to think about the photographs and the idea of escaping to the ocean and surfing, by being able to physically hold and feel the work. But for now I feel I need to focus more on creating the work than publishing it.
[i] PARR, Martin. BADGER, Gerry. 2006. The Photobook; A History. London: Phaidon
[ii] DEGIORGIS, Nicolo. 2014. Hidden Islam. Itay: Rorhof
[iii] TREFZ, Patrick. 2012. Surfers’ Blood. Brooklyn NY: Powerhouse Books
[iv] KING, Mark. 2017. The Point – Issue 5