The PhotoBook Journal

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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May 17, 2017

Lighting donation – Dual Graphics

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS, Uncategorized — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 2:53 am

Norman Strobe set-up for book photography

Photo Book Photography; Norman strobe set-up, April 2017 Copyright Douglas Stockdale

While I was working on the printing of my artist book Bluewater Shore with the printing team at Dual Graphics, they offered me an opportunity to tour their facility to observe how they provide front-to-back color management for their book printing processes. This led to the discussion about the back ground on their Fulton printing methodologies that resulted in my recent interview article about this amazing printing capability on the West coast.

While on the facility tour, we stopped at their photo studio to meet up with my buddy Scott Mathews whose the lead photographer for this operation. I would have to say that I am primarily a street/location photographer, not a trained or practicing studio photographer. Mathews studio lighting set up was very impressive and I stated that this is something I probably need to think about at some time for photographing photo book covers and interiors for The PhotoBook Journal. Mathews gave me a look and then stated that they had mothballed a long time ago a Normal lighting rig when they purchased their current studio lighting, would I be interested in a donation of an old studio lighting set up; Norman P2000 power pack and two Normal strobe heads. Wow, would I (although not exactly sure of what I was getting into as I have never worked with studio lights, but sort of frustrated with my current book photography process). Being a non-profit (or as I say, no-income/no-profit), I do not look a gift-horse in the mouth and appreciate all donations!

Dual Graphics also threw in a couple of Bogen light stands with this donation; sweet! So I received a quickie studio lighting lesson from Mathews about what I needed to do for my “new” studio set-up; buy a pair of inexpensive umbrella reflectors and NOT connect a digital camera directly to this old Norman power pack but purchase a pair of PocketWizard Plus wireless transmitters. Done and done.

So after a little bit of experimenting and some lighting coaching from Mathews, I think we are in business. The recent book photographs for the Barbara Peacock book review showing some nice improvements in our book photography process.

So a big thank you Dual Graphics for their support of this journal and we hope you enjoy the revised look!

Cheers!

Douglas

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May 16, 2017

Barbara Peacock – Hometown

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Photographer: Barbara Peacock (b. Waltham, MA – resides Portland, ME)

Publisher: Bazan Photo Publishing (Brooklyn, NY) copyright 2016

Essays: Barbara Peacock, Ernesto Bazan

Text: English

Embossed linen hardcover with tipped in photograph, sewn binding, four-color lithography, list of photographs, printed by Puritan Capital (New Hampshire)

Photobook designer: Kevin Sweeney

Notes: Barbara Peacock documented her own hometown of 30 plus years, while perhaps the citizens of the town grew older, her visual concept of what a hometown meant, continued to evolve. Her subject is a small New England town, Westford, located Massachusetts. There is enough contextual ambiguity as to the actual location that Peacock’s hometown could be representative of any small town in the East or Midwest region of America, which is a factor that draws me and probably other readers into this monograph.

She opens with an urban landscape photograph of a small market, an archetype of the local hang-out for bored kids in a small town. It appears that topic of conversation for her subjects that day was probably her and the view camera balanced on the tripod as the woman who kept darting under the curious black sheet. Her young subjects gaze directly at the lens not realizing that this was a poignant moment in time in 1982 and they were in the process of becoming subjects of nostalgia and memory when this photograph is contemplated some thirty-five years later. We can speculate that some of these same kids probably now have children of their own that are this same age or maybe even older, although Peacock states that this small market is no longer there and that one of these boys has since passed.

We witness an evolution of photographic style, from a formalism of a large format camera with color film to an informal capture in expressive black & white that encompasses digital capture methods. There is also a subtle pairing of the photographs within the book, such as the image below of the contrasting lives of the dejected appearing older woman who Elvis is still adoring and the opposing photograph of the antics of young men hanging out with skate boards and engrossed in what’s on their cell phones.

She records the quite moments of normal life being lived without big drama. We can find ourselves, friends and family in the midst of her hometown investigation and these photographs may trigger memories of our own past “normal” events.

This photobook was juried into the Photo Independent Photo Book Competition and subsequent exhibition.

Cheers!

Douglas

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May 12, 2017

Roger Ballen – The Theatre of Apparitions

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Photographer:  Roger Ballen (born in New York City, NY; resides in Johannesburg, South Africa)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, London; © 2016

Essays:  Preface by Roger Ballen; introduction by Colin Rhodes

Text:  English

Hardcover with dust jacket, sewn binding; 192 numbered pages; 90 monochrome captioned photographs; printed in China; 17.5×25 cm

 

Notes:

On April 22, 2017, in his keynote address at the annual Photo Independent Exposition (celebrating the Los Angeles Festival of Photography), Roger Ballen said that “everything happens in and with the mind.” Further, in response to a question from the audience regarding the possibility of a photographer exploiting his or her subjects, he further expanded on this theme, expressing his view that we all exploit or make use of others, since we are all programmed to live, and thus as a matter of survival must consume other living matter, be they plants or animals. Leave it to a professional geologist to brazenly uncover that which is hidden, to unearth the earthly as well as the unearthly, the more ethereal forces behind our externalized everyday scenes! The subconscious and the unconscious are powerful forces in the Ballenesque perception of life, guiding our thoughts, emotions, and actions, and he brings them into our visual and emotional awareness.

I consider Ballen the visual Shakespeare of our time, with good measures of Freud and Jung tossed in, especially Jung! He knows the many parts we play externally in the drama of life, but also most especially the archetypal parts within each of us that are struggling and trying to assert themselves, as some of them may wish to be externalized; they hover, cower, act out the most secret of emotions, desires, fears, and drives, and translate them into potential actions in our everyday existence. The shadows know it all… In collaboration with Marguerite Rossouw, Ballen paints and draws these spirits on windows and other panes, then photographs the results, one-of-a-kind and ethereal as works of art, and short-lived except through the photographs and this book, a source of self-discovery and astonishment for those who dare. Inspired originally by such drawings in an abandoned institution, Ballen has moved toward incorporating drawing and painting into his art over the past several years, in this instance to create primeval and primitive effects.

This volume is all black and white, with black backgrounds on all the pages, as shown below, and with only white and simulated shades of gray used for the drawings and paintings. On 192 pages, 90 photographs are reproduced, comprising seven sections, labeled “acts,” true to the title promising theatrical apparitions: persona – burlesque – eros – transmuted – melancholy – fragmentation – ethereal. There is usually only one image per double-page spread, either on the left or on the right, with a short title and the year of creation opposite each image. I am showing a representative image from each section below, in sequence. The image titles are kept short on purpose, since Ballen is of the school of thought that many words are only needed for bad images. Occasionally there is a playful use of language, e.g. “Hold Up” (page 87), third image below. The sum total is a contribution that invites the viewer to engage in introspection against an ancient and transient stage full of surprises, a mirror of our collective internal world, to be examined with some measure of daring and acumen.

A challenging work, full of fascinating encounters.

The PhotoBook previously featured two reviews by Douglas Stockdale of Roger Ballen’s Boarding House and Asylum of the Birds.

Gerhard Clausing

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May 9, 2017

Dual Graphics & Fultone Printing

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:14 pm

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David Gardner & Ansel Adams (date unknown) copyright Dual Graphics

This is one in a series of on-going articles to help photographers understand a bit more about the design and printing intricacies that eventually leads to a creative book object.

I recently had the opportunity to work with the design and printing team at Dual Graphics (Brea, CA) for my recently self-published artist book, Bluewater Shore. I will have to admit that after relocating to Southern California, their Fultone® printing processes, developed initially for Black & White photobooks, was legendary. I have always wanted to have my Black & White photographs printed in a book by these folks as they are the equal in quality to any book printing organization in the world. And especially for me, or anywhere in the western U.S., they are local, thus the opportunity to meet with them, finalize my book design (they had some really good ideas that were incorporated into my artist book) and able to complete an evaluation of the final hard-copy proof-checks on-site.

So let’s get into the interview with Kevin Broady (see his bio below)

Douglas Stockdale (DS) Hi Kevin, thank you for meeting with me to discuss your experience working with the late David Gardner and his innovative Fultone® Black & White printing techniques at Dual Graphics. This printing process has an important and lasting impact on the publication of fine photographic books, especially those that illustrate Black & White photographs. First, could you tell me about how you and Gardner met and your relationship with him?

Kevin Broady (KB): When I was in High School our printing class went on a Field Trip to Gardner/ Fulmer Lithograph (editors note; the predecessor company to Dual Graphics) and I was amazed by the quality of printing that I saw there – that was back in 1976. After Graduating from Cal Poly in 1985 I went to work for Gardner/Fulmer Lithograph. Orbie Fulmer hired me after the first interview. I was hired as an assistant production coordinator and after a few weeks David Gardner had me work on a few of his printing projects. He saw that I had extreme interest in what we did and he sort of took me under his wing. He was also into sports and when he found out that I was a competitive runner he drew even closer to me. When going over color and during press checks Gardner would make sure that I was at his side. He showed me what he was looking for in an image and how important it was to make the reproduction as close to the original as possible. He along with Orbie Fulmer became my mentor.

DS: What is the Fultone® printing process at Dual Graphics?

KB:  The Fultone® process came as we attempted to refine techniques utilizing duo-tones and tri-tone off-set printing to give Black & White photography the extra pop to mimic a photographic print. After years of experimenting and refining the off-set process, we wanted to create a trademark that differentiated it from other duo-tone work. The name Fultone® came from Gardner meaning a full range tone within the printed image. The end result of a well-executed Fultone® delivers a printed image that provides extra density in the shadows without compromising any loss of detail. It also adds a level of clarity to the subtle details in the mid-tones and highlights.

When I started working for Gardner/Fulmer Lithograph in the spring of 1986 the Fultone® was already in the early development stages. Jim Gronwall (who currently works in sales at Dual Graphics) was in charge of the scanning department and was deeply involved in the early stages of color management. Basically the goal (in the beginning) was to make a photographic reproduction look as close to the original image as possible with a laser scanned image.  Taking the customer’s original, dissecting it and then putting it back together on an off-set printed sheet with as much accuracy and care as possible is what our process is about. Since the early days we have fine-tuned this printing process more and more, first on the big off-set presses, now on the digital lithography press. Being able to broaden the tonal range to get increased levels of highlight, mid-tone and shadow range is what we are after. The actual off-set press (Editors note: six-color Heidelberg off-set presses) we print on has an equal share in this as well. We have tested different inks and continue to do so making sure that we are able to maintain the deepest densities that we can while keeping all detail open. Getting the two colors (Black & Gray) to work together to create the tonal range and hue that the original photograph demands is what the Fultone® process does.

DS: How did the creative printing techniques develop that led to the Fultone® printing process? Was that development process a bumpy ride?

KB: We were one of the first to actually use a digital scanner to produce these Fultone® plates. The negatives coming off the scanner lost a little more of the shadow information than we cared to lose so we actually scanned positives and then contacted them into negatives. The Fultone® process evolved over time and is still evolving with our recent work on the HP Indigo 12000 for digital lithographic printing. Proofing a Fultone® is a difficult process because it is so press dependent.

DS: The development of the Fultone® Black & White printing process eventually led to the relationship with the photographer Ansel Adams and the printing of his Black & White photographic books. How did that occur?

KB: We were working with John Sexton to produce a brochure for his Owens Valley Workshop that he was leading and organizing. Roger Wright (a pressman at Gardner/Fulmer lithograph) would bring Sexton copies of Picture Magazine that was printed at Gardner/Fulmer. Sexton was amazed at the high quality of the printing of that magazine. Gardner found out about this and offered to print the Owens Valley Workshop brochure for him and gave Sexton a really great deal on printing the brochures. Sexton, who was an assistant for Ansel Adams at the time, subsequently showed his brochure to Adams and thus began the adventure with Adams.

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Roman Loranc on-press with Kevn Broady at Dual Graphics

DS: From what I understand, there are a lot of variations for the Fultone® printing, can you explain the different options that a photographer should be aware of?

KB: The process starts with an interview of the photographer about his work and how he wants it portrayed in print. Options include tone (color) in the highlights, mid-tones and shadows as well as levels of clarity. Considerations also need to be made for paper type/finish, whether the substrate (paper) is matte, luster gloss, coated, uncoated and the varnish techniques, such as full spot or a dot varnish.

The main thing that the photographer should be aware of is that the Fultone® is designed to reproduce their images. There are many photographers that are looking for a certain look – which is represented in their photography. The Fultone® will give them that look. If there is something extra or if there is a deviation that the photographer requires – that can be done as well. It really starts with getting a feel for what the photographer is looking to do. If it is simply “match our images” then that is what we will do. The substrate (paper) has a huge impact on the images. We will listen to the photographer, provide recommendations and have a clear understanding of the goal before getting started.

DS: I assume that what was learned by implementing the Fultone® printing process carried over to the color printing?

KB: Our job is to understand the photographer’s vision and reproduce those images using all of the color separation, color management and print techniques available in combination with each other. Each job utilizes different techniques to deliver a result that falls in line with the photographer’s vision. I think our reproduction techniques are more artistic than mechanical.

With our ability to increase the range of Black & White printing we have also been able to increase the range of our four color process printing. The understanding and implementation of color management has also allowed us to expand the color palette available with our printing techniques.

DS: I am sure that there are other printing and binding innovations that Gardner helped to shepherd thru the printing industry that benefit photographic books that most photographers are now aware of? Can you tell me about those?

KB: Yes, Gardner and Fulmer were in front of many printing innovations. They posterized images and used metallic in the images to form silver-liths prints. They figured out how to print on Mylar for calendars and on other printing substrates. They developed a way to print on uncoated paper with great success.

DS: The book printing industry is very dynamic today, such as the recent development of the Print-on-Demand books.  What creative developments do you foresee for the near future that photographers can look forward to?

KB:  Absolutely. At every level we continue to work on the Fultone® process. Going direct to plate for the lithographic as well as using a staccato screening we are able to fine tune and improve the off-set printing even more. We are always looking for opportunities and we see a huge one in the digital short run arena, such as with the HP Indigo 12000 digital lithographic press (Editors note: my artist book Bluewater Shore is the first book printed with the Fultone® process on an HP Indigo digital press). We are currently testing this digital press and now have very promising results. We recognize the need to provide high quality short run printing projects, such as small volume photographic books, whether it is one or 700, and are working to meeting the photographic industry requirements.

DS: Any last thoughts?

KB: One of the things that Gardner taught me is how important it is to get the reproduction right. If you compromise the reproduction you are compromising the photographer. He said one of his best quotes he ever got from Ansel Adams after viewing one of his images printed “I have no problem with image enhancement – this looks better than the original”.

DS: Kevin, thank you for your time and sharing with us your experience working with Gardner and how the printing of fine photographic books is evolving.

Kevin Broady (Los Angeles CA, 1961) Broady has over thirty years’ experience in the printing industry, from shop-floor running lithographic presses, bindery equipment, pre-press separations to estimator, operations management and President of Gardner Lithograph. Currently he is the Plant Manager for Dual Graphics, Brea, CA. He has a degree in Printing Technology form Fullerton College, Fullerton, CA and a B.S. degree in Graphic Communications from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA.

Note: Below are interior page spreads from photobooks printed by Dual Graphics, including Penny Wolin, Descendants of Light; Michael A. Smith, A Visual Journey; Joe Deal, Between Nature and Culture; Brad Cole, The Last Dream; and Linda Butler, Inner Light.

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May 5, 2017

Manca Juvan – Guardians of the Spoon

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 4:27 pm

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Photographer: Manca Juvan (b. & resides Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Publisher: ZRC Publishing

Essays: Manca Juvan, Sasa Petejan, Urska Strle

Text: English (Slovene e-book edition is available)

Hardcover book with slip-cover, ring binding, four-color lithography, split pages, Fascist internment timeline, printed at optimal media, Germany

Photobook designer: Prapesa (Sara Badovinac & Peter Zabret)

Notes: The opening photographs are dark with each succeeding photograph allowing more light to illuminate and reveal a bit more tantalizing information about the unfolding landscape. This visual metaphor for secrets and concealed information becomes more apparent as the viewer confronts portraits and personal testimonies of events that occurred during WWII (1939 – 1943) by the Italian Fascist. Probably for political reasons and since the Italian Fascist camps were not as horrific as the Germany Nazi counterparts, these camp sites and the events that took place are not well known.

From the authors regarding the concept of this book; “Acknowledgement of Italian war crimes in the larger international context today, is as uncommon as it is inconsistent. Indeed a survey of various references and encyclopedias rarely turns up any mention whatsoever of the many Italian concentration camps that served as instruments of political and racial persecution. While the most notorious Nazi camps have become widely embedded in popular culture and our collective imagination, history has little if anything to say about the Italian Fascist camps.

Juvan’s photobook was a recent winner of the Photo Independent International Photo Book Competition that I was a jurist for. I was immediately taken by the four elements we use as criteria to evaluate the book submissions; photography, project concept execution, book design and book production. One design element I found brilliant was within the body of the book, most of the interior pages are horizontally split, which allows the reader to change and modify the sequencing and pairing of the page spreads, thus the narrative. This book design is an excellent physical metaphor relating to the fragmentation of memory, that memory can be incomplete and jumbled with time. Likewise, this book design speaks to ability to alter facts and change meanings.

Juvan has confronted an uncomfortable subject and with the current political turmoil in the world, I feel that it is a danger that we must continue to remind ourselves about and guard ourselves against. Recommended

Other book review we featured for Manca Juvan, Unordinary Lives – Afghanistan

Cheers

Douglas

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May 3, 2017

The PhotoBook Journal at Photo Independent

Filed under: Photo Books, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Book Discussions — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 11:28 pm

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Photo Independent book competition winners, copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

Your editorial team for The PhotoBook Journal, me and Associate Editor Gerhard Clausing, had a table and an opportunity to meet and discuss photobooks at Photo Independent on the weekend of April 21 – 23rd, 2017. This including some more time with the Photo Independent book competition submissions and winners (look for the 2018 book competition announcement at the end of the year), discussions with photographers about book submissions and on Sunday morning I provided a walking photobook curatorial discussion about the book competition winners.

One photobook highlight for both Gerhard and me was spending time with Roger Ballen, the featured photographer of Photo Independent. Roger and I had been trading emails about his photobook publications for many years, so this was a great for both Clausing and me to spend a little time talking with him about his books (also having him sign some of his books that were in my collection). Clausing will be reviewing Ballen’s recent release The Theatre of Apparitions on the journal later this month.

We still have a few more of the Photo Independent photobook submissions to feature and we expect to publish these by the end of this month. One book we will not be reviewing is the artist book that is an honorable mention by Jason Reimer, 197_, below, which might be more of a book dummy. The good news that Jason is now working on a plan to publish this book, so more news about his progress later this year. We do wish him good luck for this publication venture!

Cheers!

Douglas

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Jason Reimer, 197_, Artist book, Honorable Mention, Photo Independent Photo Book Competition

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Gerhard Clausing and Roger Ballen mixing it about photobooks

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Roger Ballen, book signing (mine!)

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Gerhard Clausing, Associate Editor, at our table

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Yours truly providing a book talk on Sunday, photo by Gerhard Clausing, copyright 2017

Books from Photo Independent

Goodies from Photo Independent; including books from Debe Arlook, Cathy Immordino, Richard S. Chow and Roger Ballen

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