The PhotoBook Journal

December 7, 2017

The PhotoBook Journal interview – John Gossage

Filed under: Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:35 am

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John Gossage, San Diego, 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale

I have been following John Gossage’s photographic book publication career for some time and when I noted that he would be at the Medium Festival in San Diego, it seemed like a really great time to discuss his book making and publishing background. We have traded messages off and on for years, but this was the first opportunity we had to actually meet-up. We found a corner of the café of the Lafayette Hotel to talk about his experience and background which resulted in a really free-wheeling discussion, as one memory triggered another (and not all of which is included, especially as we talked a little gossip and Gossage shared some very personal experiences). He has been the photographer or co-author of 36 photobooks, with the next to be released shortly by Steidl; Looking up Ben James – A Fable (Martin Parr is his subject).

DS (Douglas Stockdale): Tell us about growing up and what brought you to photography?

JG (John Gossage): After leaving school at 16 (maybe I was asked to leave?), I was lucky to be living in NYC and able to meet other professional photographers. I found that I was more visually oriented and photography just connected with me. These were the days before someone would be called a Fine Art Photographer, at this time photographers had their commercial work and maybe a personal project on the side.

I was fortunate to be adopted by Lisette Model for her private photography workshop classes. She had a minimum age for her students and when she looked at me, she said; just how old are you? When I told her, she gave that wonderful smile of hers with a twinkle in her eye, she said with her thick accent; that will do.

Another NYC opportunity I had was hanging out at the Magnum photography offices. I became the unofficial mascot of Magnum picking up a lot of “grunt” projects that the other photographers really did not want to photograph. I was very happy to have the Magnum photographers receive a dull project that nobody really wanted to photograph and they decide to “give it to the kid”. That paid for a lot of camera equipment and then some. I was doing really well for just being a kid of 17.

During this time I had W. Eugene Smith teach me how to print. I would pay Smith 10 bucks for an hour printing lesson and that usually turned into four hours of printing.

DS: What brought you in to book making? In particular, what led you to your second book, The Pond?

JG: When starting in photography in NYC, there were plenty of photobooks to look at. I have an affinity to photobooks. My first photobook was Eugene Atget, which was an assignment by Lisette Model that inspired me to purchase the book, but I did not really get it until much later and when I did, then it really connected. I also bought Robert Frank’s The Americans. In the early 1960’s I could still buy a 1930’s Atget book that is like new for ten bucks. I knew I wanted to do a book project and I wanted to develop a narrative landscape.

The turning point came when I realized that photographs in a sequence is a myth, a fiction. This allowed me to include photographs that I made in Berlin to complete the narrative about a “pond” that I had come across while in Maryland. I had self-published The Pond with two friends and for the first edition Aperture was the distributor. Later for the Aperture edition, I was able to add four photographs as we had run out of money for the first edition and we could not include these.

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DS: In addition to publishing with Steidl, you have your own imprint, Loosestrife Editions, how did that come about?

JG: In 1987 I published Stadt des Schwarz and Katie Schlumberger had supported this publication, she had mentioned that her favorite flower was the Loosestrife, thus we chose this as the name of the imprint (publisher). Later when I was in the process of self-publishing another new book, we decided that since I had already used that name for an imprint, why not stick with it?

DS: What do you think is the future for photobooks?

JG: Currently there are too many mediocre photobooks out there. You can look at them once and you’re done; nothing draws you back. I am looking for photographers who put themselves into a book and I can learn from. Right now I am constantly inspired by the photobooks of Roe Ethridge.

DS: What do you look for and consider when developing a new photobook?

JG: Gerry Badger has stated that the magic number for a great photo book is including 68 photographs. I am now working a photobook that will contain 68 photographs.

DS: Do you have advice for photographers thinking about creating a photobook?

JG: The photographs are the most important aspect of a book, thus make the work (photographs) that can stand as singular images. Don’t depend on transformational images to help make connections. Then create the context with the photographs. Don’t expect a great book design to save the photographs.

Likewise, making photobook should be treated as a hobby and understand that the book distribution (selling) is the devil.

DS: What are some of your proudest achievements?

JG: Never got caught! (big smile) If you are not from New York City, you might not know that this is used by the connected wise-guys (wink-wink)

DS: What is some unexpected that we don’t know about you?

JG: I was on the New York State Championship Bowling team while in High School.

DS Any last thoughts as we close?

JG: Yeah, let’s go for a walk. I have a new mirrorless Hasselblad (X1D with XCD 45mm f/3.5 lens) that I want to test. It does not have a normal lens yet, my favorite focal length, but I am interested in seeing how it does while walking the local neighborhood.

DS: John, Excellent and thanks again for this opportunity to discuss your interesting artistic and book making practice. Let’s go. (Stage right; out the front door of the Lafayette Hotel into San Diego’s North Park side streets)

Biography

Review of John Gossage’s photobook: Thirty-two Inch Ruler, Map of Babylon and One Day – Ten Photographers

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December 4, 2017

Lea Habourdin – Survivalists

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Artist: Lea Habourdin (born Lille & resides Paris, FR)

Published by Fuego Books, Murcia (ES) copyright 2017

Text: English, French, Spanish

Stiff cover with French-fold over-covers, sewn & glued binding, four-color lithography, Edition size: 500, printed by Artes Graficas Palermo (ES)

Photobook designer: Jorge Fernandez Puebla

Notes: Regretfully in today’s political climate with two mentally unstable leaders of nuclear-armed military armies who are playing a stupid game of chicken (you are bigly fat…No, you are fat, really old with fake yellow hair), the potential need to know how to survive after a nuclear war is now actually plausible. Lea Habourdin’s photobook Survivalist really resonates; it taps into some of my dark feelings that I have with today’s current events. For me, her photobook hearkens back to the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960’s and the proliferation of personal fall-out shelters.

Survivalist has the essential elements of what someone might need to survive on their own. As others might point out, the very basics of a manual. Habourdin’s narrative has three chapters; the first (untitled) is the prologue, is there any imminent danger; Chapter 2 – Objects you will need to survive for three days, emergency evacuation maps, plots of land; Chapter 3 – Re-frame from melancholy.  The three groups of photographs include a series of black & white for the prologue, then in conjunction with Chapter 2 are color natural landscapes with some hand-written text and drawings (flipped on the vertical axis, thus a need for the reader to change the book’s position), and then in the Chapter 3 a mix of black & white with color while the layout orientation changes back to the original.

One small gripe about this small book’s design is the sewn pages are subsequently glued at the spine which really tightens up the binding, as observed in my interior photographs below. In addition to making the book harder to photograph (okay, my issue), there are some photographs which are two-page span with some critical content lost in the gutter due to this book binding design. I am not sure if this was planned, but one outcome of this lost content is to increase the ambiguity and mystery of these two-page spreads.

This is a dark (both in concept as well as many of the photographs) photobook in conjunction with an occasional photographs that has a bit of black humor that overall does not seem to sway my many fears.

Best regards,

Douglas

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November 29, 2017

Interesting Photobooks of 2017 (plus a few from 2016)

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Interesting Photobooks of 2017, copyright Douglas Stockdale

As in years past, we have been providing a short list of photobooks we have found interesting, whether it was the photographic content, concept of the project, the book’s design or production qualities; and most interesting when it was a delightful combination of all of these book elements.

For our editorial team selection we limited ourselves to the photobooks we received with time to really evaluate the book object in its entirety. I have readily admitted in the past we do not have access to read and study every photobook that was published during the year, thus our list is not meant to be inclusive as there are a great many other interesting photobooks that were published this year. Our list may not be the “Best” photobooks of 2017, but rather we have selected some of the more interesting photobooks for your consideration. In a couple of cases, we have included books that were published in late 2016 that have come to our attention this year.

We have published commentaries for most of these, which are linked-up. It is our intent to publish commentaries for the remaining photobooks shortly. So in alphabetic order:

Roger Ballen, Ballenesque, Thames & Hudson, 2017, a really interesting retrospective of Ballen’s creative body of work (pending review), also The Theatre of Apparitions, Thames & Hudson, 2016 (we did not see this until early this year); An astute personal investigation of the mind against intercultural backgrounds.

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Roger Ballen

Paula Bronstein, Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear, University of Texas Press, 2016; a long term photo-documentary project about the on-going social impact of war in Afghanistan.

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Paula Bronstein

Claire Felicie, Only the Sky Remains Untouched, Self-published, 2016; provides an intriguing layered visual design that creatively investigates the concepts of lingering trauma after warfare.

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Claire Felicie

Lea Habourdin, Survivalists, Fuego Books, 2017; an intriguing book design that investigates a concept about personal/cultural survival. (Review pending)

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Lea Habourdin

Ellen Korth, CHARKOW, Self-published, 2016; presenting difficult parts of a personal history using a very innovative set of books.

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Ellen Korth

Andrej Lamut, Nokturno, The Angry Bat, 2017; a dark and moody investigation which provides an interesting environment to explore a diverse range of metaphoric potentials.

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Andrej Lamut

Robert Lyons, Pictures From the Next Day, Zatara Press; An introspective project that explores aging, personal relationships and American culture. (Review pending)

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Robert Lyons

Tymon Markowski, Flow, Self-published, 2017; a great utilization of a book design that captures the essence of photo-documentary project’s investigation of a region.

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Tymon Markowski

Duane Michals, Portraits, Thames & Hudson, 2017; a retrospective of his portrait work in the context of his trademark, if not iconic, creative storytelling.

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Duane Michals

Nancy Rexroth, IOWA, University of Texas Press, 2017 (first edition, self-published, 1977); an updated and re-edited edition of this fine art photobook “classic”, which still maintains its artistic vitality. (Review pending)

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Nancy Rexroth

Douglas Stockdale, Bluewater Shore, self-published, 2017; (A little bit of personal bias) Exploring American culture and family as well in part for its production merit as it is the first photo book that was printed with a duotone (black & white) digital lithography printing process.

Bluewater Shore limited edition artist book

Cheers!

Douglas & Gerhard

November 28, 2017

Duane Michals – Portraits

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 2:44 pm

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Photographer:  Duane Michals (born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania; resides in New York City)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York, NY, © 2017

Essays and commentary:  Duane Michals

Text:  English

Hard cover with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color printing; 176 numbered pages; 178 captioned photographs with additional notes and commentary; 12×10 inches; printed and bound in China

Photobook designer:  Mark Melnick

Notes:

It seems Duane Michals has been a creative storyteller forever (more than half a century). He has a great mind that is always bubbling with new ideas, and the application of these ideas has found its way into our consciousness as the decades have gone by. He has not been afraid to forge ahead to tackle the problems that life generates by transforming them into some therapeutic sequences and mixed-media images. He even hand-writes text to go with his images or sequences so that we may share his trains of thought and insights. Best of all, he is one of the most honest and straight-forward people I have ever met, and he is an entertainer full of earthy humor on top of all that! Below there is a sequence of two photographs I took of him at the 2014 Palm Springs Photo Festival, showing the master photographer as performer in a moment of self-awareness during a lecture:

 

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The Magic Theater: Duane Michals as Duane Michals – © 2014 Gerhard Clausing

 

This is the latest of his many books, and it is a fascinating collection of portraits with an emphasis on well-known personalities, including actors, musicians, artists, and writers, as well as some of his self-portraits and personal portraits, occasionally combining the two categories through an incorporation of his reflection. Included are many well-known people, such as Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Richard Gere, Barbara Streisand, Liza Minelli, Johnny Cash, Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, to name just a few. There are also a number of personal photographs, such as the one of his grandmother (double page four below, right side), elevated to celebrity status through these juxtapositions.

Michals comments: “The photo is a document of when and where, not who and why. Is the emotion that I see in your glance authentic or is it just a simulacrum?” He posits four types of portraits:  1. Stand and stare  2. Prose portrait (tells the story of a person)  3. Annotated portrait  4. Imaginary portrait (his idea of what somebody might be). Naturally, almost all his portraits are in categories 2-4. He frequently uses reflections (mirrors, glass) to emphasize interconnectedness and multiplicity. Long exposures and multiple exposures are other methods by which Michals shows movement and action and interprets reality freely through his imagination. Occasionally painting on the image will add his extra interpretive touch (Marlene Dietrich, double page one, right side).

This volume is a compendium of surprise views of those who may otherwise seem familiar; this coffee-table size volume is highly recommended!

TPBJ previously featured a review of Duane Michals – 50

Gerhard Clausing

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November 22, 2017

Paweł Jaszczuk – Everything You Do Is A Balloon

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Photographer:  Paweł Jaszczuk (born in Warsaw, Poland; lives and works in Warsaw and Tokyo, Japan)

Publisher:  Lieutenant Willsdorff, Bordeaux, France, © 2016

Essay:  Sophie Knight

Text:  English

Hard cover with sewn binding and black nylon hosiery wrapper; four-color offset printing; 74 pages, not numbered; 44 images; 6×9 inches; printed in Poland by Drukarnia Klimiuk, Warsaw

Photo book designer:  Full Metal Jacket, Poland

Photo Editor:  Aga Bilska

Notes:

Photographing extreme, exotic, even “kinky” behaviors has been with us since photography began, and there are many instances in other art forms as well, especially in painting and sculpture, the Dutch painter Kees van Dongen being a good example. Take photography: Weegee (Arthur Fellig) made his livelihood chasing around New York for accident photos and other situations showing people in unusual circumstances (while on the side he also indulged himself producing fine art photography, by the way). Here at The PhotoBook Journal, we recently discussed images of customers in the bars of Vienna as photographed by Klaus Pichler in Golden Days Before They End.

When it comes to Japan, life in their densely populated “megacities” seems especially anxiety-producing, as for instance Michael Wolf has shown in his images produced in crowded subways. Others, such as Nobuyoshi Araki, have shown more intimate and gritty sides of life in Japan in stark monochromatic images.

Here we have Paweł Jaszczuk from Poland, who documents the leisure activities of some Japanese diversion-seekers. Their clothes vary: some indulge in cosplay by acting out different personalities or identities away from the constraints of their straight-laced everyday work existence; others shed their clothes to engage in a variety of activities that suit them. Based on some of the surrounding paraphernalia, we assume alcohol and other substances might also play a role at times. Fetish-based behaviors, involving latex, cross-dressing, uniforms, and other props, abound in the scenes that are shown. Some of the nudity is presented furtively, some of it is brazen.

This hard-bound volume is entirely in color, comes with a wrap-around piece of hosiery (for willful draping of the cover as shown above and/or other uses as the customer wishes!) and is a kind of artful-journalistic compendium of unfettered behaviors, it seems in response to the stress of the work week, as explained in Sophie Knight’s essay: “… you burst like a balloon. The weekend has begun.”

An interesting body of work, part of a genre with precedents, and yet in its own way seductively idiosyncratic and refreshing.

Gerhard Clausing

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November 18, 2017

Matthew Thompson – Camino

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: — Gerhard Clausing @ 6:02 pm

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Photographer:  Matthew Thompson (born Fullerton, California, USA; resides Ostrava, Czech Republic)

Publisher:  Self-published, Ostrava, Czech Republic, © 2017

Essays:  Introduction by the photographer

Text:  English and Spanish

Sewn hard cover with dust jacket; 112 numbered pages; 54 images; four-color lithography; 15×21 cm; edition of 500; printed by Printo, CZ

Photobook designer:  Jiří Šigut – Concept, 2017, CZ

 

Notes:

This is another interesting photo book dealing with pilgrimages (previously, I presented Andrea Huddleston’s East or West). There is a perpetual spiritual and communal fascination with trekking the paths of the past while hoping to find oneself in the company of other kindred seekers, all against a background of those who came before and were striving toward similar self-exploration in union with a mystic environment. In this case we are dealing with the very popular Camino de Santiago that has its destination in Spain.

Matthew Thompson is an astute observer of both himself and others. Having traveled to many places in the world and honing his art of documenting local rituals and customs, he participated in this pilgrimage several times, culminating in his photographing the experience, as shown in this interesting book. It is good to find out that one can even find one’s future wife on such a pilgrimage!

He prefers to work with film, here mostly color negative film, as well as a few slide film exposures. Nowadays, of course, as he reminded me, having a small digital camera along for backup is also advisable to prevent losses, as it not possible any more to get your color film developed around the next corner. And a moderate wide-angle lens is his preferred way of viewing things, for those of you who like some of these technical details.

And so we get a beautifully printed and well-designed volume that is a pleasure to hold and view. The dust cover has a particularly pleasant sturdiness to it, giving a feeling of permanence, as it is of particularly heavy stock and endowed with ridges, resulting in tactile pleasure. The design and layout are nicely done and sufficiently varied, both in regard to the sizes of the printed images as well as the layout of the double pages, thus keeping the viewer’s interest. Several drawings by Aleksandra Sienkiewicz lend a bit of historical mysticism to the volume.

The photographs are both respectful and intimate at the same time. They let the viewer participate vicariously in this endeavor, as they also reflect some ardor and strife. The frequent use of a wide-angle view allows Thompson to include several layers in the images; from the self in the immediate foreground we are privileged to view both the “other” and the environment further in the distance. Close-ups and medium shots of some key structures and of encounters with local individuals (human, canine, et al.) are also included. The volume presents a pilgrimage from beginning to end in the sequencing of the images and creates the impression of a cinematic touch. We get a strong sense of both private and shared parts of the experience. Color is used well, somewhat more muted for more routine moments, while at times more saturated when more emotional scenes are shown. Thompson demonstrates his affection for the participants and the whole experience very well; this is reflected in the refreshing directness and immediacy of his photographs.

A very successful volume; note that the photographer offers very affordable print/book combos!

Gerhard Clausing

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November 16, 2017

Brandon Thibodeaux – In That Land of Perfect Day

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Photographer: Brandon Thibodeaux (born Beaumont & resides Dallas, TX)

Published by Red Hook Editions: Brooklyn, NY copyright 2017

Text: English

Hardcover, clothbound, gold leaf embossed, sewn binding, quad-tone (two for black and two for grey shades) printing, printed & bound by Wilco Art Books (Amersfoort, Netherlands)

Photobook designer: Heijdens Karwei, Teun van der Heijden

Color Management & Lithography; Sebastiaan Hanekroot, Colour & Books

Notes:

There is something about a long term project that enables a person to patiently dig under the surface façade to create a strong body of work. Like the old metaphor of peeling an onion, it takes time to slowly remove the layers, moving from the distrust of an obvious outsider to eventually allowing access to private moments. Over a period of eight years Brandon Thibodeaux was a frequent visitor and for some, became part of this rural community located in the South. This was not a brief stop, take the photo and then go; to never to be seen again kind of weekend project.

Nevertheless there is still a weariness in the eyes and guarded pose by some of his subjects, while in other photographs his subjects appear to be genuinely open to his presence. I am not sure the latter would have occurred without the long term commitment that Thibodeaux continued to prove by constantly returning to stay for short duration’s in this place.

I believe that Thibodeaux has summarized his project very well with “For eight years I witnessed signs of strength against struggle, humility against pride and a promise for deliverance in the lives I have come to know…for evidence of the tender and yet unwavering human spirit that resides within its fabric…reminded that these themes of faith, identity, and perseverance are common to us all.”

The visual qualities of tenderness, resilience and faith that I find in this body of work resonates with me. The elegant and classical book design with ample margins creates a feeling of dignity for Thibodeaux’s photographs, thus I feel his subjects are afforded that similar dignity.

Cheers

Douglas Stockdale

 

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November 7, 2017

Frank Cancian – Lacedonia – An Italian Town, 1957

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 10:12 am

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Photographer: Frank Cancian (born Stafford Springs, CT and lives in Irvine, CA)

Self-Published (350): Irvine, CA, second edition copyright 2017

Essays: Franco Arminio, Rocco Pagnatiello and Frank Cancian

Text: English

Stiff cover, perfect bound glued binding, digital lithography, printed by Hemlock Printers (Canada)

Photobook designer: Doug daSilva

Notes:

As an anthropologist by training and a photographer as a creative passion, these two elements were fused together in 1957 when Frank Cancian investigated a small Italian hill-top community located east of Naples. This body of work would also pass for a photojournalist story found in either LIFE or LOOK magazines of this same period. It is now a photobook of memories about social and economic conditions that have since evolved.

As a trained observer of culture and society, Cancian’s process did not allow him to remain aloof and at a distance, but to directly interacted with his subjects, catching them in self-reflection as well as allowing them to boldly face his lens. For a small Italian town, an Italian-American stranger with a camera was an oddity, thus his presence was conspicuous. Nevertheless, over time he was able to blend in and become more of an objective observer.

The book is divided into four sections; The Town, The Piazza, Procession of Our Lady of Graces and The Farm, all important elements to life in this region following WWII. The double page spread of a wedding progression as it snakes along the hilltop road winding through the town is beautifully composed. The light drizzle adds an interesting atmospheric effect. Cancian includes in the edge of the frame in the foreground a small knot of townspeople who although are not part of the wedding procession, are still very interested in this local event. Likewise the humorous pairing of the padre and the individual with the up cast eyes could be a metaphor for good and evil, as we suspect the good intentions of the padre, but are not sure of the sly look of his other subject.

The first Edition hardcover book was published by Delta 3 Edizioni, copyright 2013, who regretfully chose a lithographic printer that either had inadequate color management or was asleep at the wheel while this book was being printed; major color shifts that are too noticeable, especially when these occur with a photograph spanning a page spread, with one page in one color, while the other half is another color. To Cancian’s credit he felt compelled to self-publish this book in a second edition under his direct publishing control for the US market. There are 20 additional photographs and the Italian text was not provided in the second edition. Regretfully as with most glued perfect binding, this book design does trap some of the image content in the gutter diminishing the visual effect of photographs that are a double page spread.

Cancian is a first generation American whose family had emigrated from Italy, thus his project is part autobiographical. Cancian’s Lucedonia is a Finalist in the recent Lucie Photobook Awards for this self-published edition.

The first edition of Cancian’s book was reviewed previously here: Lucedonia

Cheers

Douglas Stockdale

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November 3, 2017

Douglas Stockdale – Guide to Self-Publishing an Indie Artist Book

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Author and Principal Photographer:  Douglas Stockdale (born Butler, PA; resides Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)

Publisher: Self-published; first edition, first printing of 400; copyright © 2017

Text: English

Stiff-cover saddle-stitched book of 40 numbered pages with 14 images on several types of paper; 7.5×9 inches; full-color digital lithography, printed by Dual Graphics, Brea, California; $19.95 plus shipping ($4.50 in US & $15.00 USD other countries)

Book Design: Douglas Stockdale and Craig Evans – Text Editor: Gerhard Clausing – Cover Photograph: Scott Mathews

 

Notes: 

This book had its debut at the Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego, California, on October 26, 2017, and was received with great enthusiasm. It is a detailed guide to help the artist through all the steps and considerations to keep in mind when thinking about and executing an independently published artist book.

Douglas Stockdale, editorial founder of and prolific contributor to The PhotoBook Journal and SoCal PhotoExchange, who has been our guide through many artistic and publishing intricacies which he has discussed in hundreds of book reviews and articles, really gets to the point in this publication. Fortunately, his collaborator and sponsor in this venture is the renowned printing and communications company Dual Graphics in Brea, California, which already assisted Ansel Adams in artfully transferring his photography to print many years ago.

Doug certainly practices what he preaches. As a successful mentor and leader of workshops dealing with planning, producing, and marketing photo books, and as an author of a number of them himself (In Passing, Ciociaria, Pine Lake, Bluewater Shore), he is able to lay out logical and creative patterns for planning and doing artist books that are designed to help artists avoid many possible pitfalls that he has observed over time. The discussion is divided into five stages, which also constitute the chapters of this book:

  1. Book Pre-Visualization
  2. Marketing (including funding and fundraising)
  3. Book Development (including editing, sequencing the images, and making a book “dummy”)
  4. Book Design (and options)
  5. Book Production

Just to name one very important consideration, this Guide introduces marketing issues early in the process, rather than at the end, as others have done, since marketing information and decisions are integral to all other considerations that follow. Doug also devotes important space to the topics of selecting and sequencing the images to be included in an artist book, a topic that is sketchy in other guides on publishing your own artist book. There are many other planning considerations that he discusses to help the reader untangle potential difficulties.

Another fascinating feature of this book, extremely useful and exclusive, is the addition of sample pages of several different types of paper on which the same color and monochrome images are printed, so that the effect of printing on papers with different surfaces and characteristics can be seen. While the images below are no substitute for getting the actual book and studying the printing on the actual paper, they allow you to begin to see some differences. This feature alone is worth more than the cost of the book, as it is the best demonstration for working closely with a top-notch printing company, and to alert the potential maker of an artist book to all the details that can make a huge difference. There are also detailed descriptions of the papers included, as well as definitions of many terms that make the artist more knowledgeable when dealing with the printing and binding options. Needless to say, the author’s style is to the point, easy to read, and not filled with unnecessary technical jargon.

This book is highly recommended, especially if you are not quite sure about doing an artist book. The overview and the details provided here will help you understand and appreciate the process and will serve as a checklist to guide you through the entire process when you have made the decision to take the plunge, which will be greatly facilitated when consulting this publication during the sojourn.

 

Gerhard Clausing

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October 24, 2017

Chris Mottalini – Land of Smiles

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Photographer: Chris Mottalini (born Buffalo, NY & resides Brooklyn NY, USA)

Self-Published: Corgi Editions (E: 350): Brooklyn, NY copyright 2017

Text: English & Thai

Stiff cover with French folds, Japanese folded pages and cold-glue binding, four-color lithography, printed in Belgium by Die Keure

Photobook designer: Remake Design (Mike Dyer)

Notes:

Chris Mottalini’s recently self-published photobook Land of Smiles is a visual rhapsody in three distinct movement in the way it is episodic yet strangely integrated. The photographs of each of the three movement are free-flowing in structure and overall has a range of moods, color and tonality.

This book project coincides with three of his recent visits to Thailand in which Mottalini investigated three attributes of the Thai landscape, one aspect on each journey. He first noted of the use of florescent tubes as night lights in the countryside, which creates surreal night landscapes. Subsequently Mottalini investigated the myriad of narrow streets and alleyways of the large city of Bangkok and then on a return to the country side during his next visit to explore the nighttime dense fauna within the limitations of an artificial light. The two dark movements then create endcaps to the brilliantly colors and complex cityscapes.

The book’s design with the use of the Japanese folded pages and textured papers is a brilliant choice as this book object has what be best described as an oriental experience. A classic case of form following function.

Mottalini has stated (discussions with Michael Adno for Aint-Bad and Jon Feinstein for Humble Arts) that “Land of Smiles is intended to be a dreamlike experience, a collection of blurred memories, a wandering, distracted meditation….Land of Smiles is a nickname for Thailand which was invented by the tourism industry, it’s a bit tongue in cheek, I thought it was a perfect title for the book, though, in part because my photographs are so opposite of anything related to tourism and the Western world’s perception of Thailand.”

Previous Chris Mottalini photobook reviewed: After you Left, They took it Apart

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