Martin Amis on how to make a living from Photobooks

 

Today our focus turns onto the booksellers who will be at Photobook Bristol. This year we have booksellers and publishers including Journal, Photobookstore, Cafe Royal Books, MACK Books, Galerie Clementine de la
Feronniere, Hoxton Mini Press, Village Bookstore, Fabrica, Tipi Bookshop, Phaidon, Rorhof, RRB Photobooks and
Fish Bar.

It’s easy to overlook the vital role that booksellers play in promoting, funding and showing new photobooks. Real life bookshops like the Village Bookstore or Tipi provide real life exhibition space, they host book launches and they provide a physical space for photographers, artists and bookmakers to show and look at work.

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Trajectory: It’s Time to Look at Graduating Student Work!

Unsettled by Melissa Hooper

It’s Graduation time for photography students around the UK and it’s time for their work to be shown.  Here at Photobook Bristol we are developing strong connections to a range of educational institutions across the UK, so we are always looking to encourage student participation and highlight their achievements both here and on our partner sites.

With that in mind, we have linked up with Harry Rose at theprintspace to highlight their Trajectory programme. This is a free submission project where every graduating student in the UK can show their work on the Trajectory website..

You can see student work here. 

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Photobook Bristol Dummy and First Book Table

We are delighted to announce the books we’ll be showing at Photobook Bristol’s Dummy and First Book Table. It was with great difficulty that we made this selection. There were fantastic books that weren’t selected, with great images, concepts and designs. Making a photobook really is difficult and the standard of books submitted is proof both of the skills needed to make a great book and also that peak photobook, in terms of quality, not been reached.

There are trade published, self-published, handmade artist’s books and rough dummies covering a range of subjects and approaches. From Matthieu Asselin’s large scale investigation into Monsanto to Mary Hamill’s direct floral renditions of used tampons and Martin Bollati’s ambitious book construction, we recommend you follow the links and discover the work of some of the best books that we have seen this year and beyond.

See all the books at  PHOTOBOOK BRISTOL 2016  and at GAZEBOOK SICILY and GIBELLINA PHOTOROAD

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Photobooks can be Affordable!

One of the things we love about photobooks is they are so open. They do not discriminate against any particular kind of photography, they are not blinkered.

The trick is making the book design match the content, making the text flow, choosing the right papers, using visual, graphic and tactile strategies to get you looking at the work on the page, to get you to open the page in the first place.

So here are some of our favourite photobooks from recent photobooks. There’s  fashion, the historical, the personal, conflict and much more in there.

Of course some of them aren’t available. Some sold out in their thousands, some were made in tiny editions so are even more expensive and difficult to find.

So we’ve mentioned a few alternative great books, some of which are cheap and easy to buy. Starting from just over £1.50.

Photobooks are accessible. You just have to look to the past a bit and choose right! And take your eyes off all the ones that you didn’t buy.

 

The Student Book

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Christoph Soeder’s Clear Cut is sold out and he only made 35 copies of them in the first place.

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But go deeper into the fashion scene and go for the ultimate student book, the ultimate skinhead book. It’s by Nick Knight and it’s called Skinhead. Made in the second year of his course in Bournemouth. Unbelievable!

 

The Historical

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Ok so it’s going to be expensive to buy Kikuji Kawada’s Chizu, his narrative of Japan’s post-nuclear trauma. Even the facsimile’s cost a fortune.

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But don’t complain. For less than £10, you can get the incredible Algerie by Dirk Alvermann. This is The Battle of Algiers in book form, but harder hitting, with added paranoia. One of the great photobooks of our time for less than a tenner!

The Personal

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So you missed out on Anne de Gelas’ L’Amoureuse, a supremely sad French-language account of her struggle for self after the death of her husband (‘There is a never a right way to tell a child about the death of his father’).

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But then there’s Amak Mahmoodian’s Shenasnameh. This is a very personal account of the different uses and functions of passport photos. It’s personal, political and will be launched at Photobook Bristol. It’s not that cheap, but it’s beautifully made.

The Storybook

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So you can’t get the original Love on the Left Bank by Ed van der Elsken. But you can still get it here for £24 – or you can get it for less than £20 on Amazon and play a part in shutting down the high street and putting independent book sellers out of business.

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And for the same price you can get a more contemporary tale of life in bohemian Latvia, Only here the Left Bank comes courtesy of Ivars Gravlejs and his brilliant Early Works, with depressed looking Maths teachers in place of Parisian cafe-dwellers.

The Social

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One of the very best set of images in photobooks in the last few years. People dancing in night clubs! It’s like the late, great Malick Sidibe, but with apartheid added for extra dysfunction. It’s Billy Monk by Billy Monk and it’s freely available to anyone who wants to buy a copy. We think it is one of the great underappreciated books of the last few years.

 

The Internet-book

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We like Jan McCullough’s Home Instruction Manual. It’s a fun mix of bad advice on interior design from chat forums and McCullough’s gonzo home snapshots, and it’s one of the most engaging photobooks of the year so far.

The Propaganda Book

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Few people will be able to afford the absurdly intricate Ten Years of Uzebeckistan with its Stalin cut-out looming at you throughout.

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But for a look into a totalitarian past, there is the great Red Color News Soldier. Not only is it full of incredible images, the story of how it was made is also amazing. And it costs £25. Which is still alot, so…

 

The Budget

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Still too much. Well for only 2 euros you can get Mc Hotel by Olivier van Breugel en Simone Mudde. This is how you do budget!

More shopping for books at

 

RRB Books
Photobook Store
Tipi
Photo Eye

The Village Bookstore

Cafe Royal Books
L’Ascenseur Vegetal
Claire de Rouen

Le Bal
Dalpine

The Pleasure of the Photobook: It’s what makes us poor

 

In my post on Ken Grant, I mentioned the generosity you experience when talking with him. Rather than talk about his own work, he takes you out into the world. He recommends writers, poets, songwriters to you – people who you should read or listen to or experience not simply because it is worthy and culturally enriching, but because it is a pleasure to do so.

And I wonder if that generosity is not typical of the Photobook World as a whole, and also part of its downfall. Whenever I meet people involved in making books, in selling books, in writing about books, there is always a generosity there, an outward-looking quality in which enthusiasm and passion for photography, books, and ideas are paramount.

Part of it is the usual ‘have you seen this book, have you seen that book? It’s great.’

But the other part of it is a curiosity about the world and the way it works. So just as Ken Grant will talk about poetry and art, others will talk about the experience of seeing the Berlin Wall come down (Mark Power), or the terror of losing yourself in the hell of your religious teacher’s making at the age of 8 (Amak Mahmoodian), or the psychological dilemma of being from a country that does not exist (Dragana Jurisic).

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Listening to Ken Grant is like Being Smothered in Honey

Ken Grant is launching his book on Liverpool and football, The Topical Times for our Times at Photobook Bristol, but the other great book by Ken Grant is No Pain Whatsoever. This was published two years ago and brought a belated acclaim to Ken, who had been photographing on Merseyside for almost 30 years. It’s an example of slow photography, an antidote to the immediacy of news, photography and much of the photobook world. In No Pain Whatsoever you see images and ideas rooted in a community slowly coming to fruition, and you feel Ken having the confidence and knowledge to keep on making work, to keep on exploring the people and places of Liverpool over the years despite limited praise or recognition.

The book has a long history behind it. And interestingly, that trail extends forward. The more you go back to it, the better it becomes. It really is brilliant work that talks about people, place, about class, about politics in a way that is both poetic and profound.

 

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I wrote the article below for the BJP and it was an interview most pleasant in so many ways. Speaking to Ken is like being slowly smothered in honey. Not in a bad wasp-stuck-in-a-honey-pot kind of way, or in a supposed-to-be-sexy-but it’s-excessively-sticky kind of way, or even in a daft-photo-project kind of way, but in more of a soothing, calming kind of way, a honey-and-lemon tea kind of way, a warming kind of way.

To listen to Ken speak is to be submitted to the Ken-mantra where the words slip out and you are lulled into Ken-world. Whenever I hear him, I become a little bit like him, his voice and his spirit diffuses across the room and becomes part of me for some reason; my voice softens and  – just for a few hours – my tone becomes more mellow, my words more thoughtful. I slow down. I become kinder.

But despite all that soothing quality, I also leave strangely ennervated. I have a Ken-Buzz about me. Ken is one of those people who is generous in his words. So instead of just hearing about his own work, you hear about poets and writers and singers. You’re taken from the world of single-digit Liverpool wards to the quick rhythms of the streets of Glasgow, the dark brooding of the Deep South, the sullen skies of the midwest. And you leave ennervated, and improved. After talking to Ken for this article, I ended up reading Thomas Kelman and John Cheever, and seeking out poets and writers who spoke for the poor, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, for those who survived ( like the blinded protagonist of Kelman’s How Late it Was, How Late ) against all the odds. Who beat the odds, or at least manage to live in such a way, with such a spirit that the odds are somehow transcended.

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Gazebook Sicily: On Creating Your Own Art Space!

Last month Amelia Jones wrote this in an article on the lack of representation of people except wealthy white males in the regular art world.

She ended with this quote:

For artists, she believes that we have to work at creating our own art spaces and our own art worlds. She suggests that artists open up their own pop up galleries, if for only a few months. “Blitz the media. Create your own art space. Don’t wait for all the conventional art world people to figure out what you are doing. Create your own networks.”

It’s an idea that we should all take to heart, that rather than (or as well as maybe) moaning about the lack of representation, why don’t we actually get together and use our charm, our energy, our dynamism to create something. This is both true of those who are less represented in the art world, but also true for those who want to start up an event that goes beyond the traditional. That’s the thinking behind Gazebook Sicily, the first beachfront festival that had its first edition in 2015. Started by three young Sicilian photographers, Teresa Belina, Melissa Carnemolla, and Simone Sapienza, Perhaps 1,000 people attended the first festival. Despite being funded on a shoestring, and relying on the goodwill of bemused locals in the resort town of Punta Secca, the festival was a greatly enjoyed success and attracted speakers including Tony Gentile, Lina Pallotta, Mark Power and Max Pinckers, showed work by #DYSTURB, Guy Martin, and Lua Ribeira as well as running a series of workshops by Mark Power, Alex Bocchetto and Tiziana Faraoni..
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