The PhotoBook Journal

July 20, 2017

Penny Wolin – Descendants of Light. American Photographers of Jewish Ancestry

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books — Tags: , , , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 10:29 am

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Photographer: Penny Wolin (born Cheyenne, Wyoming; resides Sebastopol, California)

Publisher:  Crazy Woman Creek Press, Cheyenne, Wyoming, © 2015 Penny Wolin (portions by others)

Essays:  Alan Trachtenberg, Yale U.; Penny Wolin; various quotes, interview segments, and background details

Text:  English

Cloth-bound sewn hardcover with illustrated dust cover; 244 numbered pages, four-color and duotone lithography; 14×10 inches, printed by Dual Graphics, Brea, California

Designer:  Bunne Hartmann

Notes:

“The camera was an affirmation of the miraculous.“  Abe Frajndlich, p. 52

“Exploring other people’s identities took me to exploring my own.“  Lori Grinker, p. 64

Telling stories about storytellers is not an easy task, but Penny Wolin excels at it. This book is a painstakingly researched and intelligently thought-out compendium of ideas and visual content along several dimensions. It contains cultural information and stimuli, drawing on the featured photographers’ shared cultural history and beliefs that provide the basis for a rich universe of creative thought and stimulation, against a background that also is tinged by discrimination and suffering. Dozens of influential photographers are featured: their biographical and bibliographical information, challenging interview segments, portraits of many of them by Penny Wolin, and also photographs by the photographers. This publication is the result of a project encompassing many years of passionate research and collaboration, and was partly crowd-funded.

The book is divided into several sections that complement and enhance each other. First there is an introductory section that contains Penny Wolin’s rationale and procedure, Alan Trachtenberg’s essay on the Jewish eye (an illuminating gateway to the subject), and other pieces of wisdom. Part 2, “The Photographers,” is a rich resource of quotes and interview reactions in response to Penny Wolin’s questions regarding family background and personal and professional influences and beliefs. At times she interviewed the photographers’ descendants in the case of those deceased; wherever possible she created very astute photographic portraits of the photographers as well, as shown in the excerpted visuals below. Some images from the photographers’ past often are included, in order to also give a visual glimpse into their background. Part 3, “Questions about Answers” is guided by major concerns (injustice, anti-Semitism, and others) that are related to group identity and the possibilities of group visibility or invisibility, and the benefits of having a feeling of belonging. Part 4, “The Work,” contains a well chosen photograph by each of the photographers, along with some select bibliography for each. The volume concludes with a detailed index, further bibliography, and a glossary that explains cultural and other special expressions. The book is superbly printed by Dual Graphics in Brea, California, a firm with a distinguished printing record going back to Ansel Adams, as described by Douglas Stockdale. In the same way that the printer is devoted to technical excellence, so is Penny Wolin – her portraits were made on medium format film and scanned from silver-gelatin exhibition prints.

Suffice it to say that all the pages in this book are fascinating. Each time you pick up this volume, there are new things to discover. The artists included constitute a virtual encyclopedia of creative forces that have allowed us special views of the world through their informed creative eyes. Just to name a few:  Sid Avery, Lilian Bassman, Bruce Davidson, Robert Frank, Lauren Greenfield, Philippe Halsman, Claudia Kunin, Annie Leibovitz, Helen Levitt, John Loengard, Joel Meyerowitz, Melvin Sokolsky, Arthur Tress, Joel-Peter Witkin, and many, many more (the complete list is shown in the last image below). It is the kind of project that invites the reader and viewer to share, both intellectually and visually, in a rich cultural framework and its creative visual output. In the section below, I have chosen to juxtapose a few of the photographers as featured in Parts 2 and 4, so that you see Penny Wolin’s portrait of the photographer first and the photograph by the photographer second. Beyond that, I will leave it to you, the reader and viewer, to obtain the book and discover the many gems of wisdom and insight for yourself.

This important volume about these influential figures in photography should not be missing in the library of anyone who wishes to gain an appreciation of what inspired these artists to inspire us. Highly recommended!

Gerhard Clausing

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July 11, 2017

LACP Book Marketing Workshop schedule change!

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:21 pm

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Regretfully I need to announce that my LACP (Los Angeles Center of Photography) one-day workshop Marketing Your Photo Book has had to be rescheduled and will NOT occur the week after on July 22 as was previously planned.

The new date for this workshop is Sunday, October 29th, 2017.

I am very sorry for the inconvenience and I really hope that everyone can make the last minute adjustments.

Best regards, Douglas Stockdale

July 10, 2017

Elena Kholkina – Time of the Moon

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Artist: Elena Kholkina (born & resides Moscow, RU)

Self-published artist book (Moscow, RU)

Essays: Elena Kholkina

Text: English

Glued Board on cloth with original color transparency in mount on cover, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Index of photographs, limited edition artist book (E of 50), printed in Moscow (RU)

Photobook designer: Elena Kholkina

Notes:  Elena Kholkina’s Time of the Moon is a mashup of created and found photographic material, including icon movie images, which is interwoven with quotes. One aspect of her multimedia practice that she has included in her book are the photographs of the resulting images after she projected movie stills and other images onto her subjects at night.

Her artist book is an investigation of a public site located within Moscow that is a collection of large buildings and structures, some dating back to the late 1920’s and associated open spaces. Due to current Russian economics’ many of the buildings in this large site are in a state of “hibernation” and the future appears to be unknown. Even as the political pendulum swings in Russia, it is difficult to foresee what the fate is for such structures that have a strong historical linkage to a different political period.

This situation of what should society do with old buildings that have a defined history but are no longer viable in the current economy or consistent with the political mood is more common that we might want to acknowledge. In America we have similar situations that range from small dusty Midwest towns with almost abandoned Main streets to large cities with dormant and decaying factories and public buildings which became too expensive to retrofit and are considered obsolete and abandoned in place. Chris Mottalini photographed various homes built by the 1950’s avant-garde architect Paul Rudolph which Mottalini documented just prior to demolition, as the design of these homes are considered too severe for current tastes.

Unlike the ruin porn photographs of a decaying city, Elena is attempting to create a dialog with the current structures still potentially variable and in place as a call to action. To potential save the destruction of this region of Moscow while the political bureaucrats slowly ponder what to do next. She raises questions, while recalling the historical past, such as the collective quest to visit the Moon, in hopes of changing the course of history. Reading this book is an emotional roller coaster ride with an unsettling ending.

Cheers! Douglas Stockdale

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July 7, 2017

LACP workshop: Marketing Your Photo Book

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 1:27 pm

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Just a brief followup reminder from my earlier announcement in April that there is still space available for the LACP (Los Angles Center of Photography) workshop Marketing Your Photo Book which I am leading. Marketing and selling a photobook has similarities to photographic prints but there are enough nuances that if not addressed can end up with you having boxes and boxes of books in your garage, not in your audiences hands. You don’t want to have your first photobook become your last photobook.

Marketing Your Photo Book – This is a one-day workshop being held on (Note: schedule change; now Sunday, October 29th, 2017 Saturday, July 22nd ) in Los Angeles. This workshop is is intended for photographers and artist who are preparing to publish their work in book form, whether self-publishing or working with an established book publisher. I will provide creative and practical approaches to marketing your photo book.

The morning will be spent understanding your publishing objectives and how that translates to a marketing plan. This will include discussing the basic elements of a marketing plan; what is being published and sold, who might purchase it, where to sell it, how to price it and how and when to promote it. Issues to be discussed include; how soon to start working on a plan, book economics and buyers price points, buy or create a mailing list, selling self-published books, and do’s and don’ts of using social media and web sites. During the workshop, I am planning a series of breakout sessions to enable development of each person’s specific marketing plan for their book.

Let me know if you have any questions,

Cheers!

June 29, 2017

Alexandra Huddleston – East or West: A Walking Journey Along Shikoku’s 88 Temple Pilgrimage

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 7:53 pm

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Photographer:  Alexandra Huddleston (born Freetown, Sierra Leone; resides Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Publisher:  Kyoudai Press, Santa Fe, NM, © 2014

Essays:  Introduction by the photographer, as well as quotes and journal entries

Text:  English

Stiff cover, perfect-bound; 48 numbered pages with 18 color images; 8 ¼ x 7 ¾ inches; printed by Oddi Printing, Iceland

Notes:

This volume is an account of the photographer’s 2010 walking pilgrimage on the Japanese island of Shikoku (the smallest of the four main islands of Japan). There are a total of 88 (!) temples on the route, dedicated to the 9th-century Buddhist saint Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi) and connected to his life experiences. Needless to say, most of the 100,000 or so pilgrims visiting each year use various modes of transportation other than their own two feet, but Alexandra Huddleston was one of the exceptions, walking the 800 miles, as a truly dedicated pilgrim should, in order to engage in such an experience in a full physical and spiritual way.

This was the second pilgrimage for the author (after Camino de Santiago), and as she states in the introduction, her stamina and understanding of the process were greater for this second major experience. She describes her process of discovering “the joy of becoming part of a community that transcends both religion and nationality.” The work includes a series of journal entries that account for some of the tribulations as well as the joys of the experience. The images exude a great deal of tranquility and serenity while constituting a modern approach to the subject; the photographic style for the most part is lyrical rather than documentary, as is fitting for an account of such a quest for the self in a supportive context. Since the images are not encumbered by captions or explanations, we can use our own imagination as we contemplate the journey. We are invited to linger here and there, contemplate or meditate, as we behold some of the ancient monuments and their contemporary environmental details and the people that are around.

A special volume that allows us to share a special experience.

Gerhard Clausing

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June 21, 2017

Julia Borissova – J.B. about men floating in the air

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:41 pm

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Artist: Julia Borissova (born Talinn, Estonia, resides St. Petersburg, RU)

Self-published, 2015 (second edition of 300, 2017)

Essays: Julia Borissova

Text: English & Russian

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Linen hardcover with tipped in photographs, handmade sewn binding, Leporello format with one four-panel gate-fold and two three-panel gate-folds, digital lithography, printed St. Petersburg, RU

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Photobook designer: Julia Borissova

Notes: In the Greek mythology there was Icarus who upon being gifted with wings from his father and then learning to fly subsequently flew too close to the sun and perished. “J.B. about men floating in the air” was inspired by the story of two Lithuanian-American pilots who tried to set a new world record by flying over the Atlantic into Eastern Europe in the early 1930s. Regretfully like Icarus these two airmen did not reach their goal and perished in the process. Subsequently Joseph Brodsky wrote a short passage about their attempt;

…over the Baltic wave,

I buzz just like that monoplane,

like some Darius and Girenas,

though not as vulnerable.

which inspired Borissova to artistically created her own “parallel world”.

“My story is about the dream of every person to break out from the vice of all kinds of prohibitions and fly away to a distant unknown in search of unlimited freedom and find there his true motherland and real home.”

This small book is another brilliant body of poetic work by Borissova and a fascinating mashup of made, staged and found photographic materials. The unhinged Leporello book design (see the top view of the book above) allows the reader to start from either end of the book (printed on both sides of the sheet) and create multiple stories as it may seem that one side of the book with the introduction is the start of the book, but not necessarily. Sewn into the book are numerous multi-page gate-folds that reveal and conceal various aspects of Borissova’s layered narrative. A very delightful read.

Borissova reminds of us that at one time or another in our lives we probably wished that we could just fly away and leave the complicated messes of life behind and perhaps if not start anew, at least obtain a temporal breather from current events. We also need to consider the potential consequences if we were to fly to close to sun or beyond our capabilities in doing so.

Other artist books by Julia Borissova feature on The PhotoBook include: Dimitry, DOM, <address>, & Running to the Edge.

Cheers, Douglas Stockdale

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June 15, 2017

Richard Humphries – Kingdom’s Edge

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 1:40 am

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Photographer:  Richard Humphries (born St. Albans, UK; resides Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Publisher:  Richard Humphries Photography, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK, © 2016

Essays:  Foreword and captions by Richard Humphries; Introduction by Gerard McDermott

Text:  English

Sewn cloth-bound hardback with 200 numbered pages, 79 captioned color images and 2 maps; 25×16.5 cm; printed in Italy

Photobook Designer:  Helen Kudrich Coleman

Notes:

We are in the midst of increasingly unacceptable acts of intolerance, escalating from verbal to physical violence. Today’s event on a baseball field near the U.S. capital is just the latest example. When will they ever learn: VIOLENCE DOES NOT SOLVE PROBLEMS! And so this book is another very important example to demonstrate this point, as was the work by Paula Bronstein on Afghanistan, which I reviewed here as well.

Strife in the south of Thailand goes back many centuries, but violence has intensified in the 21st century due to clashes based on some extreme interpretations of beliefs. Gerard McDermott in the volume’s Introduction supplies an extensive account of historical developments affecting this region of Thailand, a monarchy with a military government, especially the border area between Thailand and Malaysia, a difficult region that we have heard much less about than other difficult areas around the world.

Richard Humphries has visited this area, which presents a mix of Buddhists and Muslims, Thais and Malays, over a period of eight years; he speaks the local languages, and currently lives in this area of Southeast Asia as well. A seasoned photojournalist as well as a storyteller, he has used this background very effectively. We are able to see the historical and the modern aspects of this part of Thailand, the old and the new, the various activities that sustain both livelihoods and belief systems and traditions, in both somber and light-hearted moments. Some of the images are literal and stark, some metaphorical and mysterious, and his approach suggests that all these aspects could well coexist peacefully, if only some levels of greater tolerance were part of the mix. A particularly attractive feature of this volume is the fact that both ordinary and extraordinary images are included so that we see both everyday life and the unusual side by side. The detailed captions supplied by the photographer for each image are also very helpful for the viewer’s understanding. A highly recommended volume for those interested in global strife and its cultural contexts, as well for anyone who wants to enjoy excellent photojournalism!

This volume was juried into the Photo Independent Photobook Competition and was subsequently on display at the Photobook Salon.

Gerhard Clausing

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June 6, 2017

Alice Q. Hargrave – Paradise Wavering

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Artist: Alice Q. Hargrave (born & resides Chicago, IL)

Publisher: Daylight Books (North Carolina, USA) copyright 2016

Interview: Alice Hargrave & Kendra Paitz, Essay by Allison Grant

Text: English

Hardcover with sewn binding, four-color lithography, index, printed by Ofset Yapimevi (Turkey)

Photobook designer: Ursula Damm

Notes: I have found Alice Hargrave’s photobook Paradise Wavering to be complex, layered, and very conceptual as an investigation of our global environment.  Perhaps not unlike an episode from the sci-fi television series The Twilight Zone where something is really off kilter from the on-set.

Dark ominous images are interspersed with mysterious landscape of unusual color casts and hues that create a dark undercurrent. The opening photograph is a tropical coastal landscape with looming storm clouds but the color is really strange and immediately places me on edge. Immediately following is a photograph with a darkening sky in conjunction with red and orange tinged clouds that creates mixed message of hope and gloom. As Hargrave states, this book is “a photographic stream of consciousness….exploring the fugitive nature of experience, time, light and the photographic medium itself.”

I found some of the photographic parings visually delightful while others are rather difficult to comprehend. Regretfully I found an unevenness in the flow (note: which should NOT be construed from my own sequence of the book’s interior images below) of the photographs while the theme is one that resonances with me regarding a concern for our environment. I think the book is challenging and will probably delight many readers by the complexity of the visual narrative.

Best regards, Douglas Stockdale

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May 25, 2017

Cheryl Dunn – This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 11:48 pm

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Photographer:  Cheryl Dunn (born in Old Tappan, NJ; resides in New York City, NY)

Publisher:  Deadbeat Club Press, Los Angeles, CA; © 2017

Stiff cover, saddle-stitched; 52 unnumbered pages with 43 black-and-white and color images; digital offset printing, 6×9 inches, edition of 300.  (Deadbeat Club #53)

Notes: 

For all those who are wondering what the United States is currently struggling with, this is a very timely volume of telling photographs. Cheryl Dunn is a photographer from New York City who effectively visualizes both heart and soul of this divided country and turns it into a brief but iconic presentation. No wonder, she has a strong record in editorial and advertising work, as well as portraiture, and has also directed an amazing feature-length documentary film on street photography in New York City, Everybody Street, seen through the eyes of well-known photographers (details on her website, as linked above). NYC can certainly be considered a most representative amalgam of cultures and therefore of opposing viewpoints as well.

So in this very important volume we see the forces of a healthy democracy at work. There is a divisiveness fueled by particular political interests, by economic needs, by the crude realities of long-standing military strife, by the marginalization of and disdain for minority groups, and other factors. Here we see a visualized panorama of opinions, driven by many emotions, such as anxiety, fear, anger, dismay, and sadness – of the groups opposing the election of a government by a minority of voters due to electoral college rules and some voter lethargy, of the groups that find themselves at minimal existence levels and are hoping for government magic, while blaming the “others” for their woes, of the young people who as a more accepting population segment are hoping for a better future with less violence and hatred, and with more varied economic opportunities. Some representative double pages are shown below. The pacing of the volume and the pairing of images are designed to keep the viewers curious and interested throughout. Observations of minute detail that shows everyday life as it transpires everywhere under any circumstances are also refreshing. Well done!

Congratulations and thanks to the photographer and Deadbeat Club for making such interesting work available at such an affordable price, and kudos for encouraging the use of film-based photography as well!

Gerhard Clausing

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May 19, 2017

David Kregenow – At Eye Level. Photographers Photographed

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 4:51 pm

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Photographer:  David Kregenow (born and resides in Berlin, Germany)

Publisher:  The Unknown Books, Sintra, Portugal, © 2015

Essay: Preface by Wim van Sinderen

Text:  English

Stiff cover, HP Indigo printing, perfect-bound, 21×14.8 cm; 48 unnumbered pages, 21 black and white photographs; edition of 110

Notes:  Excellent portraits of photographers are rare indeed. We often see them portrayed in situational settings, in a mode generally known as environmental portraits, if formally posed at all, or simply in the process of doing their work. Not only that, but it is well known that many photographers often are more comfortable behind the camera rather than in front of it. Thus there is some persuasion necessary to get them to pose at all.

We are fortunate that David Kregenow, who is well known for his urban and architectural work, has made it his special project to photograph other photographers, and has been persuasive to have a good number of them pose for him. As Wim van Sinderen describes in the preface to this book, Kregenow corners them as he meets them and ask them to pose for him. The resulting portraits are a treasure trove of formal portraits, done with a special sensitivity to bringing out their personality and style. The portraits are horizontal monochrome headshots, and it is fair to say that they add certain heroism to the subjects. We look straight into their eyes, in a pleasant and non-confrontational manner. One is reminded of the portraits of the old master Yousuf Karsh, who also posed his subjects against a neutral darker background to add a special dimensionality to the portraits.

In the meantime, Kregenow’s project has grown to at least 69 portraits of photographers, as shown on his website. In this volume we are shown 21 of them, all taken between 2011 and 2014, and cropped a bit in a few cases as dictated by the vertical format.  Five of these photographers are no longer among us (Baltz, Burri, Greene, Leiter, and Schmidt), so that these portraits are acquiring value for the history of photography as well. Since this volume has been issued in an edition of only 100 (plus 10 with special prints; collectors, please note!), I am hoping that a larger edition will follow, one that allows the portraits to shine fully on individual pages, without gutter intrusion.

A delightful introduction to seeing photographed photographers!

Gerhard Clausing

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