Photobook Bristol 2016: The Last Post!

Photobook Bristol 2016 is over and was simply wonderful. We are emotionally attached to the event, but it was a truly memorable festival for so many reasons with  great talks, great people and so many different perspectives given. And there were quite a few stand out moments!

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The weekend started with Amak Mahmoodian talking about her beautiful book, Shenasnameh. Her talk started with a clip of old Iranian movies which cut through the clichés of representation of the country. She went on to describe her working process, for all her projects and then the ways in which the identity photograph of the Iranian Shenasnameh (which is a kind of Iranian Birth Certificate/Domestic Passport) is used. The book is connected very closely to the different ways in which photography is used in formal settings and how those uses reflect politics, culture, violence and power. But above all, it is a book that is personal, autobiographical and filled with a passion and love that transcends the subject matter.

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Photobook Bristol 2016 is here. This is the line-up for the weekend.

We look forward to seeing everybody to the Southbank in Bristol!

Friday 10th June

2:30 – 3:15 Amak Mahmoodian: Shenasnameh and the Iranian Identity Picture
3:15 – 4:00 Craig Atkinson and Café Royal: A Life in Publishing, Drawing and 300 books
4:00 Book launch: Shenasnameh by Amak Mahmoodian

Shenasnameh ICVL Studio-RRB Publishing(008 )
4:00 – 4:30 Break

4:30 – 5:15 David Solo with Olivia Arthur and Susan Meiselas: The Photobook Audience! Who, Where, why?
5:15 – 5:30 Francis Atterbury: How to Make Your Photobook
5:30 – 6:00 Max Pinckers: True or False – The Story of Lotus
6:00 Book Launch: Lotus by Max Pinckers

6:00 – 6:30 Break
6:30 – 7:15 Dragana Jurisic: Photobooks, Philosophy and Home
7:15 Book Launch: Clear of People by Michal Iwanowski

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8:00 Barbecue

Saturday 11th June

10:00 – 10:45 Sonia Berger: Dalpine Books: Publishing and selling as a collaborative experience

10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 11:45 Yumi Goto with Hajime Kimura: Reminders Photography Stronghold: The Handmade, the Personal, the Political
11:45 – 12:30 Ivars Gravlejs: Anarchy, Chaos and the Classroom

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12:30 – 2:00 Break

2pm – 2:45 Julian Germain: From 90 minutes to 60 Seconds – Football, Photobooks and Love
2:45 – 3:30 Ken Grant: When Saturday Comes
Book Launch: The Topical Times for these Times book of Liverpool Football by Ken Grant
Book Signing: Memento Moris by Peter Mitchell

3:30 – 4:30 Break
4:30 – 5:15 James Barnor in conversation with Sarah Preston

5:15 – 5:45 Break
5:45 – 6: 45 An Evening with Krass Clement and Martin Parr
6:45 Book Signing: End by Eamonn Doyle

8:30 Music By Mik Artistik

Sunday 12th June

10 – 10:45 Ania Nalecka: Design Matters – Essential Photobook Design

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 11.45 Jessa Fairbrother in conversation with Mariela Sancari
Book Signing: Garden State by Corinne Silva

11:45 – 12:30 Break
12:30 – 1.15 Laura El-Tantawy: A reflective look over a mighty big country: Egypt, beyond the childhood memories.
1.15 – 2:15 Mark Power with Daniel Cockrill (poet) and Dominic Brookman (designer)): Poetry, Pictures and Design from ‘Destroying the Laboratory for the Sake of the Experiment
Book Launch: ‘Destroying the Laboratory for the Sake of the Experiment by Mark Power, Daniel Cockrill and Dominic Brookman

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2:15 End of Talks

Ken Grant’s World of Football: Liverpool, Landscape and Manhood

For our final post before Photobook Bristol, here is a short interview with Ken Grant on his new book, The Topical Times for These Times: A Book of Liverpool Football.

This will be launched at Photobook Bristol on Saturday and is set to become (alongside Julian Germain’s wonderful In Soccer Wonderland and Hans van der Meer’s formally beautiful European Fields) one of the classics of football photobooks. Not that it’s really about football. It’s about much more than that. as Ken explains below.

Both Julian Germain and Ken Grant will be speaking at Photobook Bristol on Saturday.

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Walking, Memory and Darkness: A Review of Beyond the Visual

We’re delighted to say that Photobook Bristol 2016 is now sold out so this week we turn our heads back to look back at the event to be hosted by Photobook Bristol/ICVL at the Southbank Club. This was Sound, Word and Landscape: Beyond the Visual – a day of talks (by Max Houghton, Angus Carlyle, Jem Southam, Thom and Beth Atkinson, Paul Gaffney, Susan Derges and Esther Vonplon) that looked at the different autobiographical, sensory and historical elements that make up the landscape we experience.

The review below is by Rob Hudson (and do look Mametz Wood  and other projects!) was first published in On Landscape Magazine.

‘I’ve long believed in my own work that seeing by itself is insufficient to create a good photograph. Whereas visual skills are essential, they are only a part of the contribution we can make as individuals or artists to our photography. The real skill of the visual is translating whatever it is we’re trying to say into images. An extra level that might go some way to communicating our intent. Beyond seeing lies the murky, complex world of ideas, motivation, intent and meaning.

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Phaidon: On Branding, Crossover and Finding a New Audience


This year we are very happy to have Phaidon sponsoring Photobook Bristol 2016. As publishers of the Photobook Histories by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger, Phaidon are the publishing catylyst in the surge in creative photobook publishing. Volume I was published in 2004 and though it was not the first history of photobooks (Fotografia Publica and The Book of 101 Seminal Photobooks came earlier), it was the publication that really brought the photobook to a much, much wider audience.

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Phaidon has also published great photobooks in their own right in books like Li Zhensheng’s Red Color News Soldier (see images above), it has reissued classics like Philip Jones Griffiths’ Vietnam Inc. and it continues to push the photobook into new audiences as part of its immensely classy catalogue on the arts, design and beyond.
In some ways then, Phaidon takes the photobook and brings it to new audiences. Two of its latest titles, Real Food by our very own Martin Parr, and Failed it! by Erik Kessels exemplify this ability to go beyond the photobook ghetto.

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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.


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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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Ivars Gravlejs and How to Improve Your Photography

One of the great pages on Ivars Gravlejs is Useful Advices for Photographers.


It’s full of useful advice for how to take a good, conventional photograph that looks like a good, conventional photograph. And of course, it’s advice that has no bearing on what makes a good picture – that’s the point.


Here’s some advice that Thomas Struth followed (when he wanted to make his pictures as boring as possible).



And here’s some advice that Lee Friedlander ignored consistently.

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Ivars Gravlejs and his Early Works

One of the prize treats of this year’s Photobook Bristol is the appearance of Ivars Gravlejs. He’s the author of Early Works  a book made up of photographs made whilst at school. It’s a brilliant commentary on the school experience, its humiliations, its embarrassments, and its multitude lows – and that’s just for the teachers.

But Ivars’ talents go far beyond being able to nail the school experience in photographs in a way that is more recognisable than anyone else. Go to his website to see a whole series of projects that question the how, why and what of photography in a manner that is irreverent, anarchic and filled with chaos. But still with a core of questions that beg to be answered, or asked.. I’ll be featuring some of these projects this week, but in the meantime here is a review of Early works which originally appeared on Photo Eye).



‘I often felt nauseous before going to school because of the humiliation that I faced with my teachers. The only way to survive school was to do something creative…’ says Latvian-born artist, Ivars Gravlejs.
Continue reading “Ivars Gravlejs and his Early Works”