The PhotoBook

January 15, 2016

LA Art Book Fair – coming soon to SoCal

The LA Art Book Fair will again be at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and will be another delightful maze of rooms with amazing displays of photobook and zines. This event has always been punctuated with some wonderful finds for me.

From Printed Matter:

Printed Matter presents the fourth annual LA Art Book Fair, from February 12 through 14, 2016, at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Downtown LA. A ticketed preview will take place on Thursday, February 11, 6-9PM.

Free (another aspect of this event that I love) and open to the public, Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair is a (very) unique event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines presented by more than 300 presses, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers from over 20 countries.

The LA Art Book Fair is the companion fair to the NY Art Book Fair, held every fall in New York City. Over 35,000 artists, book buyers, collectors, dealers, curators, independent publishers, and other enthusiasts attended the NY Art Book Fair in 2015.

A full list of this year’s exhibitors can be found here.

Highly recommended for those who love photobooks and zines on living (or visiting) the Left Coast.


January 27, 2015

Printed Matter’s 2015 LA Art Book Fair


Printed Matter’s (2015) LA Art Book Fair

This coming weekend on the Left Coast is what is becoming an annual event; Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair which will take place again at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

As I have written about the past (2014) LA Art Book Fairs taking place at MOCA, this building is a maze of rooms, small hidden rooms, medium size display areas and a huge room usually reserved for the Zine world. A ton of books, magazines, zines that are new and old (“collectibles”) that can overwhelm the senses. Fortunately the food trucks out the front doors can provide sustenance to help you endure. In past years there was a section reserved for photobooks up on the mezzanine, but guessing there will be spot somewhere.


Preview Thursday 29th January, 6-9pm
Friday January 30th, 12–7pm
Saturday January 31st, 11-7pm
Sunday February 1st, 11-6pm

Also nice about this event: FREE Admission!


April 29, 2014

Paris Photo LA – 2014



Untitled (stack of new books) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale.

One of the nice aspects of LA becoming a regional center for photography is the growing number of photographic events occurring locally. Even though I live a good hour drive south of LA (if the traffic behaves), much easier to attend than similar events in NYC, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Tokyo. Nevertheless, I usually only attend one day and if the event is a three day weekend, I make it a point to attend on Friday. Basically there is a much smaller crowd with more accessibility to exhibits and meet-ups, the downside is the grander presentations are usually on Saturday.

This past weekend was Paris Photo LA and the smaller Photo Independent (my review of the Photo Independent on Singular Images) located adjacent to the Paris Photo LA. My interest was primarily on the Paris Photo LA is the presence of the photobook publishers and distributors. This year the book publishers was Aperture (US), Kehrer (Germany), MACK (UK), Taschen (US) and Bookshop M (Japan) along with Printed Matter (US) and the U.S. mega photobook distributor Artbook D.A.P. Also a couple of photobook dealers, such as Harper Books and Dirk K. Bakker Boeken. There are also a few photobooks found amongst the various exhibitors, but this took more time to hunt down than I had available this year with the exception of Andy Freeberg’s recently published Art Fare, but this was a prearranged meet-up.

Most of the publishers have recently published titles and frequently titles that are not going to be released in the U.S. until late summer or early Fall, so a nice opportunity to see what’s coming out. Most of the publishers and distributors were organizing book signings, so an opportunity to meet up with the photographer behind the book. I have already reviewed Douglas Ljungkvist’s Ocean Beach, nevertheless this was an opportunity to meet the guy behind the book as we had already been trading email and Facebook messages leading up to his book being reviewed. Thus a chance to meet Rachael Jablo and an introduction to her photobook My Days of Losing Words, Nancy Baron and her photobook The Good Life, Robert Pittman and his photobook Anonymization and Catherine Leutenegger and her photobook Kodak City. As you can see in the photograph above, I also acquired the Harry Callahan book, but a bit too late to meet up with him. I had a chance to meet up with Cristina De Middel, Renee Jacobs and Wendy Hicks during my meandering as well as there were a couple of missed opportunities.

The big tension for Friday night was the darkening clouds and the forecast for rain that evening. Some of the store fronts where either books or pictures were hanging are true Hollywood facades sans roofs. So below are some of the sights of Paris Photo LA, which by the way was held again on the back-lot of Paramont Picture Studios in Hollywood. How LA is that?














February 3, 2013

LA Art Book Fair

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Book Stores, Photo Books — Doug Stockdale @ 11:59 pm


Copyright the photographers; Paul Schiek’s “Dead Men Don’t Look Like Me” (TBW Books), Dan Gluibizzi’s “Folding Space”/Zefrey Throwell’s “Pressing Time” (Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books), Nicolas Hoosteing’s Matador (Etudes Books), Notes on Fulford’s Raising Frogs for $$$ (The Ice Plant), Alec Soth & Brad Zellar’s “Michigan” (Little Brown Mushroom), The LA Art Book Fair Catalog.

I had an opportunity to attend the LA Art Book Fair this weekend, a cool event by Printed Matter (NYC) that until now was only hosted in NYC. The fair was made up mostly by small press, zines and booksellers/dealers, with only a few larger publishers and distributors present. I have to say it was a really diverse & International show.

I was doing my walk-about on Friday and even still, the fair was well attended. The space was the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, thus the interior lighting was better suited for exhibiting artwork and a bit tricky for reading books although it seemed that everyone adapted pretty quick. The were a number of smaller spaces which provided some sense of intimacy, but also created a maze and the potential of missing some of the exhibitors, as I almost missed one small section when I think I accidentally stumbled into just before closing. To their credit, the Book Fair did provide a map of the booth locations and next time I will take time to look at it from the start, so my bad. 

The Book Fair was not dedicated to photobooks, but there were a fair amount of photobook publishers and dealers/bookshops present and had a special focus, as did the Zines in their section aptly titled Zine World. My issue was there were toooo many photobooks to choose from and I decided to look for photobooks that were about the photobook object, providing a photobook experience that would not translate to an iPad or other digital media. I will have to say that Dan Gluibizzi’s “Folding Space”/Zefrey Throwell’s “Pressing Time” with its pantyhose outer wrap recently published by Ampersand Gallery & Fine Books easily met my criteria.

Encourging news for us in Orange County was provided by Claire Cottrell that  Book Stand ( is looking at a location in San Juan Capistrano in additional to their on-line presence. Very nice!

I hope that this is the first of many LA Art Book Fairs. The discussions that I had with book dealers, publishers and attendees indicated that this is a success event from the very start of the opening night. Nice.


May 12, 2012

Douglas Stockdale – Ciociaria Limited Edition Book + Photograph Set

Copyright Douglas Stockdale 2011

Warning Notice: this is a self-serving personal shout-out about the availability of my book in a Limited Edition Book + Photograph set. You may find yourself spending a small amount of loot while yet making a wonderful investment, so be warned before proceeding any further!!

I recently published two small versions of a Limited Edition Book + Photograph Set in conjunction with my hardcover book Ciociaria. The edition size for both versions is 25 and I choose two photographs which were not included in the design and printing of the book. Both the photograph and book are signed and numbered, with the photograph printed on archival stock. After a number of discussions with Susan Burnstine during the development of this Limited Edition set, I opted to go with an inexpensive version to keep my costs low and a provide a reasonable price of $150.00 per set.

The initial interest in the two Limited Edition sets is good and I am nearing the halfway point for selling the editions. I can’t say they are selling like hotcakes yet, but are doing well enough and building a small reserve fund to finance my next book that I hope to be able to announce shortly.

The Fiuggi Edition, photograph below, was an interesting turning point for me while working on this project. I had been deferring to a more topographical investigation of the memories of this area, which is to say photographing the urban landscape without the presence of any individuals. As this scene unfolded before me, it spoke of another way to create a narrative as to how memory is preserved. But as book designs go with the choice, pairing and sequencing of the images, this photograph did not find a good home within the book. So it seemed a nature to include this as a special edition.

Fiuggi Editon


The other version of the Limited Edition is the Morolo Edition, which includes the photograph below. I saw this lyrical web of branches with the different phases of the decaying fruit and hints of the surrounding residences. It speaks to the past memories intersecting with the current moment.

The Limited Edition Book + Photograph sets of Ciociaria will be available from specialty photographic bookstores.

Now available at:

Ampersand, Portland Oregon

Coming soon to photo-eye

The standard hardcover book at $55.00 is currently available at both Ampersand and photo-eye.

Additional interior photographs from the book and links to some of the book reviews can be found here.

Check back as I expect this bookseller list to grow.

Best regards, Doug

Morolo Edition

 Now back to your normal programing…

April 16, 2012

Ken Schles – Oculus

Photographs copyright 2011 Ken Schles, published by Stichting Aurora Borealis

The recent trend in photobooks seems to lean towards minimalism; all photographs without supporting text or captions. Ken Schles recent book Oculus is a refreshing change and his supporting essays are as interesting and challenging as are his photographs. As Schles states, “Oculus started with a question – a question about images and the way they function.” This is his investigation into why he was making “documentary style” photographs that “often reflected images I already had in memory.”

Be forewarned, his essays will not be a lite read if in involves the writings of Plato, Aristotle and Nabokov. Nevertheless, Schles does provide a readable, perhaps a bit dense, narrative with questions and observations that I am sill pondering.

Due to economic and personal circumstances, Schles found himself “struck with the realization that images I held, the images in my head, had become separated from the reality that once portrayed. I was taken off guard that my images could be so defining – not only in reaction to who I was and how I saw the people that I loved, but also how those images colored my perceptions, swayed my judgments and influenced my actions. I have to take stock; my images no longer held up.”

The book is segmented into sections that investigate the nature of experience and images, the nature of memory in relation to existence (Somnambulism), nature of images and memory (Mnemosyne) and the nature of experience and memory.

I found Schles investigation into nature of memory in relation to existence in conjunction with his photographs of sleeping children to be the most intriguing. (Note: I can usually capture a reasonable likeness of the interior of a book, but the paper’s sheen was very vexing, so please do not judge this book’s contents solely on my accompanying illustrations, they do not do enough justice.) Schles inspiration was drawn from Vldimir Nabokov’s “Speak Memory”; “The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness”.

Oculus is a hardcover book that is smart, if not brilliant, and innovative and as I do not usually make many purchasing recommendations, I am making an exception for Schles book; highly recommended.

March 31, 2012

Wintergarten LTD – Chinese Bondage in Peru – Volumes I, II, III

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Stores, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 11:44 pm

Copyright Wintergarten LTD 2012

Chinese Bondage in Peru is a trilogy of artists’ books featuring a mashed-up collection of found photographs, printed matter and accompanying text organized around the vague fictitious narrative of a North American journalist’s travels between the continents of Latin America andAsia.  

While the title of the series is taken from an academic publication on the exploitation of Chinese migrant laborers in Peruvian guano pits by 19th century colonists, in the context of these images it might just as easily refer to the Sendero Luminoso, a group of Maoist inspired revolutionaries organizing indigenous Peruvians to overthrow the country’s government, or to the questionable role currently played by Chinese investors in Peru’s mineral extraction sector.  While constructed from “real” ephemera of vernacular image production, the work is anything but documentary, taking its cues instead from sources such as Japanese “pink films” and the French photo-anthropology magazine “Zoom.”

Wintergarten Ltd. is a Los Angeles-based art collective whose work is generated by a growing collection of found photographs and printed ephemera.  They have exhibited their work at Night Gallery(Los Angeles) and been reviewed in ArtForum.

Ed Steck is a writer from Southwestern Pennsylvania. His work has most recently been published by West Galerie (Netherlands).  He currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.

Publisher: Wintergarten Ltd.
Type: 3-zine set, zine trilogy
Number of pages: 108
Dimensions: 5.5″x8.5″, 14cm x 21.6cm

December 29, 2011

Mitch Epstein – American Power

Mitch Epstein 2009 copyright courtesy Steidl

I think one of the better photographed and designed photobooks to shed light on the complexities and the enormity of the environmental, economic, political and social issues of the production and consumption of energy is Mitch Epstein’s American Power, published in 2009 by Steidl.

In reading Edward Burtynsky’s Oil, a photographic project that investigates the same subject, the landscape is photographed on a grand scale, frequently using an aerial perspective that literally provides the reader with an “overview”. The trade-off between the grand “Ansel Adams scale” and a mid-range framing for me is that the subject becomes impersonal and thus a little more difficult to directly relate to the issues. Burtynsky has also included fewer individuals in his project, also reducing the personalization and increasing the abstraction of the issues.

Interestingly both Burtynsky’s Oil (Steidl, 2009) and Epstein’ American Power are large, thick massive books, which would seem to consume large amounts of energy to print, bind and transport. Perhaps it was Gerhard Steidl’s intent to create these large books to capture the reader’s attention about a large, pressing and important issue.

Another photobook that was also released in 2009 on a similar subject was Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers (2009) using symbolic subjects and thus more abstract, such as looking at a scientific notation for water and being able to relate to a body of water or a glass of water. For me, it was Chris Jordan’s earlier photobook In Katrina’s Wake (2006) that in examining the after-effects of the hurricane Katrina, makes the environmental issues of the production and consumption of power more comprehensible and a wonderful predecessor to Epstein’s American Power. Unlike Epstein and Burtynsky, both of Jordan’s photobooks are of a more traditional (and reasonable) size and heft.

Epstein explores the production and consumption of energy and in a broad and expansive investigation similar to Burtynsky, but using a moderate scale, along with a little dark humor, that can connect with the reader. Similar to both Burtynsky and Jordan, Epstein effectively uses balanced compositions and saturated color to create some beautiful, although troubling, photographs to capture the viewer’s attention. This was a project that would span between 2003 to 2008 and take him and his photographic support team to almost half of the States in America, as well as dealing the political and legal issues of publicly photographing energy sites post 9/11. Epstein’s subjects included the production of coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, fuel cell, wind and solar.

The book as an object; linen and embossed hardcover with dust jacket and the color photographic plates are beautifully printed and are slightly larger than the original 8 x 10” photographs, thus loaded with wonderful details. There is one color plate per page spread, with a neat white margin around each photograph and the plate numbers with a title (place and date of the photograph) are on the facing page. The Afterword is by Epstein to provide more of a personal context to his concept and the execution of this project.

Note: Mitch Epstein won the third annual Prix Pictet photography prize with the publication of American Power, an award which recognizes work on the subject of sustainability.

December 16, 2011

Harvey Benge – All of the Places I’ve Ever Known

Copyright Harvey Benge 2010 – courtesy Kehrer Publishing

My first impression of Harvey Benge’s  photobook All of the Places I’ve ever Known was that this book is meant to be autobiographical.  It is also a statement of the obvious: that you cannot take a photograph of a place unless you have been to that place. Cheeky.

Benge has self-published numerous photobooks and in his usually style he provides his readers with a minimum of textual information to help the reader relate to his photographs. He is a bit of the minimalist in terms of providing some potential insight. You can make of what you want from his titles which usually has a healthy amount of ambiguity. In this book, he provides an interesting quotation from Longchen Rabjampa (1308 – 1364); “Since everything is but an apparition, Perfect in being what it is, Having nothing to do with good or bad, Acceptance or rejection, You might as well burst out laughing!” My take-away from this and many of Benge’s proliferate photobooks is that his photographs are a joyful observation of what “is” as a result of the powers of seeing and observing random urban serendipity.

What primarily seems to catch Benge’s discerning eye is color, especially finding the interesting interplay of hues and tonalities that can be found as he walks through the urban environment. As such, this photobook is a kinetic pin-wheel of colors. Although color is the primary found subject of his photographs, he isolates and frames his subjects with the sensibilities of graphic design; taking into account and layering such elements of line, mass, and shape.

He isolates and frames his subjects such that he will establish a primary color object, then introduce a secondary color object, such as a blue pipe rising in the midst of a verdant field, below. The secondary color object(s) balance or complement the composition, sometimes creating a jarring dissonance, as the red on red with yet an adjacent red, below, other times appears to be a quiet and meditative harmony, as the cool blue-gray panel with the two blue rectangles centered at the base of his pictorial framing, also below.

Although attracted to color, he reframes from hyping the color up in his photographs by increasing saturation of the hues, rather attempting to allow the “natural” and found compositions speak for themselves; “Perfect in being what it is”. Nevertheless Benge’s photographs have an interesting energy that seems to be intensified as a collective whole with the design and layout of this book. For my tastes, the sequencing of the color photographs in this photobook creates more of a slightly psychotic experience.

Benge is about framing and isolating what he has found. He moves in close, usually providing a tight framing, so that he fills the picture with color. Benge has also stylistically created a niche for his vertical photographs, as this is his predominate choice in pictorial framing and on occasion a horizontal composition will make an interlude, perhaps to create a little tension or provide a slight change of pace. In this book, all of the photographs are presented as verticals, although one is a horizontal composition but due to the ambiguity of the subject, appears acceptable as a vertical layout. Nice.

The photographs are single image on the right page per spread, with a classic white margin bordering the photograph. On the facing page is a plate number and at the end of the book is an image index, providing the city location and year photographed for each plate. The book design and photographic presentation is very spare and minimalistic.

As a book object the dark red color of the spine extends over into the image wrap cover and is a complementary color to the cover photograph, echoing the contents within.  This hardcover book and contents is beautifully printed in Germany consistent with the high standards I have grown to expect from Kehrer Verlag Heidlberg.


June 17, 2011

Myles Haselhorst interview – Ampersand

Filed under: Photo Book Stores, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:19 am


Ampersand, Portland, OR

While in Portland, Oregon recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with Myles Haselhorst, the guy behind counter at Ampersand Vintage, a nice place to find both new and slightly read photobooks, gallery, vintage printed material and photographs, and most recently, Ampersand published books. Here are excerpts from our conversation;

Hi Myles, it is really nice to meet you and have an opportunity to discuss your background and how Ampersand came about. Would you mind providing some details on your back story? I understand your degree is in lit, so how did you make the transition from school to a shop keeper for a photographic book store?

I started Ampersand in 2005, first as a home-based business, & now as a gallery & showroom in NE Portland that I opened in fall 2008. In essence, the business grew out of my love for literature, reading & the book as an object, but I’ve also always been drawn to photographic images & visual culture in general. The idea of owning a bookstore has always been with me, but when I really started to work toward that goal, finding & selling used books on the internet was becoming a viable thing. One effect the internet had on book selling was a dramatic reduction in the value of certain types of books. In response, I chose to specialize & seek out items that tended to be unique & thereby hold their value. Photobooks, for a number of reasons, tend to increase in value over time. Economics aside, photobooks were a draw because of their inherent narrative value. A good photobook can produce an experience equal to reading the richest of novels or a well-composed poem.  

 It appears that your current objectives extends beyond just the buying and selling of photographic books, to include vintage photographs and ephemera. Has that always been the case? What is the interacting dialog amongst these three genres; photographic books, vintage photographs and ephemera?

A large part of owning a business like Ampersand is scouting & hunting for new material. In the process of collecting like this, one’s eye can’t help but stray to other types of material such as the vintage snapshots & ephemera that I sell alongside photobooks. In general, it’s a reflection of my disparate interests, but as you’ve noted I’m trying to create a space where there’s a dialog between books produced by artists & the vernacular visual materials that our culture creates as a byproduct of existing. The connection between the two is strong & my hope is that Ampersand is space where both can be viewed in close proximity.     

You have chosen to create a gallery space amongst your book stacks, did you originally envision a gallery or did this evolve? Interestingly a number of galleries how include a small book store, but for you, it appears that the books came first. These do seem complementary but adds another layer of complexity.

I’d say my passion for books came first & the gallery followed as an experiment. Again, I think it traces back to the diversity of my interests. It’s an engaging (& often exhausting) exercise trying to find work that relates to my book & vintage materials inventory. More importantly, I try to find work that relates to my interest in how pedestrian visual culture ultimately gets reproduced as art. In that sense, most of the work I’ve shown is derived from found materials of one kind or another, or it has been vintage material that I’ve found & formed into a show, sometimes successfully, often times not. The gallery is also a response to my opinion of galleries in general. Few people live in starkly-lit, white-walled boxes. Chances are that if one collects art, he or she also collects photobooks & maybe old photos, antique correspondence, arcane recipe books, etc. Collections of this sort & art coexist in our homes & apartments, which I find fascinating, so I wanted to create a space that celebrates this kind of interrelation.

Speaking of complexity, with your recent exhibition, Our Time, you have pursued a new venture in publishing a catalog. I have noted that a number of galleries have taken similar steps in self-publishing their exhibitions in a book form, so what was this experience like and what do you now foresee as your future in book publishing? Are you going to consider only exhibition catalogs or venture beyond this, and if so, where would you want to take this?

Our first book coincides with our current show, Our Time, which features paintings by Dan Gluibizzi. Though not a photobook per se, Dan’s work does address issues of photography in that all his watercolors are derived from anonymous digital photos people post on the web. In most cases the figures are nude—they are exhibitionist, nudist, amateur porn makers—& Dan’s work invites us to consider how digital photography & the internet has allowed for a proliferation of this type of photograph. As with all catalogs, the basic idea was to create a record of the show that provides context & also serves as an alternative to owning one of Dan’s works. We also wanted to create something that is collectible in its own right, hence the limited edition & our attention to design & production standards. Whether or not the book came out exactly as I envisioned it is arguable, but it does successfully convey the nature, complexity & character of Dan’s work, which was the primary goal.

I’ll continue publishing exhibition catalogs in cases where the work lends itself to reproduction & the artist wants to participate in the process. In fact, our next show features work by Portland photographer John Ryan Brubaker, who first showed me his photographs in the form of a small photobook he had made by hand. Over the year he made several changes & it eventually occurred to us to make a show that deconstructs the book & presents it as art pieces on the wall. Of course, the book itself will also be available in a limited edition, a few of which will come with original silver prints & others that will be completely handmade by Ryan. 

Beyond that, I’d like to produce small edition books that further investigate the sheer abundance of found visual material that finds its way into Ampersand. Returning again to the idea of experimentation, small edition, self-published books allow one to experiment with papers, inks, printing  & binding without much financial risk, which is exciting. A mistake in one publication can be refined & corrected in the next. In that, I guess the process is as paramount as the final product–it’s just a matter of finding the time to do it.

What are your thoughts about photography and Photobooks here in Portland and generally in the Northwest?

There’s an active photography community here in Portland. Galleries like Charles Hartman & Blue Sky continue to exhibit great shows. The Newspace Center for Photography provides an excellent platform for photographic eduction with juried shows & incredible resources. The new Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum, Julia Dolan, has thus far been very active in engaging the community from her position as curator. Plus we have Nazraeli Press here in town & photographers like Raymond Meeks (we showed his work in April), who is active in making photographic artist books. & there’s Photolucida, the portfolio review that takes place every two years & brings a large influx of photographers, gallery owners & curators to the community. All that said, I’d say that serious buyers & collectors of photography & photobooks here in Portland are still rare birds. But in general the photobooks are selling well, even without listing online, & I’m optimistic that local interest in photography books will continue to grow.

As you are actively buying, trading and selling photobooks, what trends and future do you foresee in photobooks, which seems to be a hot button in photographic conversations on the web and elsewhere? What are your thoughts on the increasing quantity and varying quality of self-published books?

The sheer abundance of photographic books being made is remarkable. As a buyer for a store, it’s difficult keeping up with everything that is available. I’m sure collectors face the same problem—making sense of what & what not to buy, especially when edition numbers are often low & certain books sell quickly. That’s why online resources such as yours, Jeffrey Ladd’s blog & The Indie Photobook Library are so important. Which is all to say that beyond the books being published by the main photography publishers, there’s this rich culture of independent, self-published & small press photography books. So, that’s one obvious trend.

To be honest, I really haven’t decided what my role as a bookstore should be in relation to this type of book. By & large, it’s a type of media that has been facilitated & fertilized by the internet. That’s not to say that the books are created because of the internet, but rather the internet has created a community of distribution & commentary that allows the books to be viewed, discussed & ultimately purchased. At a basic economic level, a bookstore may question carrying a title that collectors can in most cases buy direct from the artist. That said, independent books that I do carry sell best when there is a strong relation between the content & the design of the book. That’s an obvious statement, but it’s actually something that’s very difficult to achieve. An example of a recent title that did achieve this is Firework Studies by Pierre Le Hors, published by Hassla. At surface it’s an understated & simple book, but it invites one to perceive multiple layers of meaning. In a way, it’s kind of taxonomy of fireworks & the word “studies” lends to it this sense of scientific pursuit, so, appropriately, the book has the shape & feel of a field manual. I sold several copies out of the store & in each case the buyer’s were drawn as much to the design of the book as its content. Hassla always seems to produce nice books, so it’s a sure bet ordering in their titles. How to judge the quality of all the other books out there is difficult. Perhaps I should invite photographic bookmakers to submit examples so that I can consider selling them at Ampersand.

The impulse to create photographically illustrated books & documents is obviously not new. Though “trend” may not be the right word to describe it, more & more attention is being paid to photographic books & albums that were made by anonymous persons or commercial entities in the past. Aperture recently published a book titled Photographic Memory: The Album in the Age of Photography & there are others like it. While it’s engaging reading books of this kind, it’s even more rewarding collecting examples of the albums & books they investigate. Though abundant, it’s not always obvious where to find them & when you do, chances are you may own the only copy that exists. Among the examples that I’ve found recently is a stapled book of photographs & text documenting the working procedures & machinery of a Japanese wire rope manufacturer. Beyond the pleasure of seeing a very specific form of industry, the book is remarkable in that it was so obviously handmade—looking at it, you really get a sense of the design decisions made by its creator. So, that’s one aspect of Ampersand that I’ve always tried to cultivate, this notion of finding examples of photographically illustrated books, albums & documents that are one of a kind & say a lot about our impulse to use photographs to convey & illustrate information.

Myles, this was a great discussion and I appreciate the opportunity to spend this time with you. Are there any other thoughts you want to share in closing that perhaps I missed?

Thanks for showing interest in the space & proposing the interview. It’s been fun. I’d like to add that one thing I take for granted owning a space like this is the small community of regular customers that has developed over time. It really makes coming here everyday an enriching experience. Small galleries & bookstores become hubs for dialog & conversation in ways the internet can’t quite reproduce. Everything I have here at Ampersand is carefully selected; I have a personal attachment to it. As a result, buying something from Ampersand is not just an act of paying for & acquiring a thing, it’s a way of participating in the act of curation, in the dialogs & creative impulse I hope the space encourages. There are places like Ampersand dotted all over the world; at the risk of sounding preachy, I really encourage readers of your blog outside of Portland to seek them out (if they have not already) & patronize them.

Myles Haselhorst with Douglas Stockdale

Note: Ampersand has expanded their bookstore and gallery in late 2011.



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