Photo museum visit

Published 6 February, revised 7 February

This weekend, Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February 2010, Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam (NL) holds its second photo book weekend; with seminars, presentations, pitches, interviews, demos and a photo book market.

Last year I missed the first event, but this year I marked the weekend and timely bought a ticket for the Saturday. I had an early train to Rotterdam, as I also wanted to see, prior to all the photo book activities, these exhibitions :

–  Nicholas Nixon: The Brown Sisters 1975-2009 | View the photo serie 1975-1995Lees het artikel in de Volkskrant “Altijd samen” van Merel Bem

Kingsley’s Crossing | See the documented passage here :  Permalink Mediastorm

The portraits of the sisters (fascinating and confronting!) had a strong impact on me, as had the story of Kingsley (among many other things, no family photo moments for him anymore…).
Yes, how about equal opportunities…  and comfortable aging…

The talk of young graduate photography Willem Popelier about this soon to be published photo book raised some emotions too. He explained his confusion, struggle and search for fact finding and his need to document, to visualise the abstractness of identity. He showed and told us how his notebooks turned from a photo book dummy into “X and Willem, documented record of a youth“. Also why he chose for a publisher versus being his own publisher. (I think I understand why he wants to share his (twin) identity search and youth story…).

Using an extensive family tree and photography, the narrative is systematically charted and developed. Portraits of individuals are created in the same detached manner as objects from the past, such as train tickets and the many keys to the twins’ various family homes.

A presentation of Hans Schoots was about the biography. I heard about the choice of telling a story with images only or with narratives/explanations, the (strong) relationship of text and visuals and the successful combination of written content and aesthetic photo essay.

The 2,5 book pitches that I joined were equally interesting and informative. Photographers talked about their project and book pursuit (from “Knoet”, “Sint Annawijk Tilburg” to “warm-cold roots & contrasts”). Questions raised by the experts (publishers) were about the why, what, how and the added value of the book as a means. Advice was given about strong editing, design, adding of own “signature” and the need for a matching publisher.

Julian Germain talked how three of his books (Steel, In soccer wonderland, For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness) came about.  The length of the Steel project, his choices and the opportunity to combine his own work with the vernacular photographs that he collects. Also about the collaboration with the designer, the strong needed editing in one book and the joy and freedom of doing scrapbook format in his soccer book, his difficulty with text writing, i.e. to convert Charlie’s answers to his questions into the ‘Charlie story’. Furthermore we heard and saw a bit about his photo presentations (framing) at exhibitions.

The last  =very uplifting= 10 minutes of the day were about the wonderful “Red Balloon / Le Ballon rouge” book. Frido Troost called upon photo book lovers to look beyond expensive, “must-seek-after Parr-Badger books” and upon photographers to do more linear photo book (comics) stories and less conceptual art books ;+)

A photo book as a contemporary business card for photographers. Indeed photo books have become more mainstream and digital printing (on demand) offers additional opportunities. Yet what makes a (good) photo book?  (E-book and e-reader??)

There were also moments for photographers to meet and to talk about photo book projects and photography. Exchanges are useful. We, I, need more of such uplifting, informative and inspiring events. Bring them on!

(I’m reading Wikipedia | publishing)

p.s. Don’t hesitate to share your favorite photo book title (and url).

Photo books

Are luxury photography books recession-proof?
Six-figure sums are routinely paid for limited-edition photography books – and publishers tell us they’ve mined art gold

“Spending £1,000 or more on a book is an investment,” Taschen says. “A number of people are looking for a safe place to put their money, and the success of our limited editions have shown time and again that prices are often doubled, tripled or, in the case of Sumo, multiplied by 10. And while you’re waiting for your money to grow, you get to own something beautiful and rare. That’s what I call a good investment.”


The Sochi Project

The Sochi Project


In 2014, the Olympic Games will take place in Sochi, Russia. Never before have the Olympic Games been held in a region that contrasts more strongly with the glamour of the Games than Sochi. Just 20 kilometres away is the conflict zone Abkhazia. To the east the Caucasus Mountains stretch into obscure and impoverished breakaway republics such as Cherkessia, North Ossetia and Chechnya. On the coast old Soviet sanatoria stand shoulder to shoulder with the most expensive hotels and clubs of the Russian Riviera.

Photographer Rob Hornstra and writer/filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen plan to document the changes in the area around Sochi over the coming five years. The Sochi Project will be a dynamic mix of documentary photography, film and reportage about a world in flux; a world full of different realities within a small but extraordinary geographic area.

Double-elephant folio of 250 floral images | Jonathan Singer

It’s quite a lengthy article but good reading. From podiatry to photography to wealth, with good equipment and contacts :

“Botanica Magnifica is largely a record of endangered tropical plants of the world.

“Double elephant” is the technical term for a rarely used, very large book-paper size, in this case approximately 100 by 75 centimeters (39½ by 29½ inches). Singer’s deliberate model here is the original edition of Audubon’s Birds of America, the greatest picture book ever published and the best-known double-elephant folio. Each of the volumes of Botanica Magnifica will weigh approximately 35 pounds.

My images are taxonomically perfect, they look like paintings, and they’re large.

Recently, an extremely wealthy Japanese businessman who wishes to remain anonymous, at least for the time being, agreed to pay $2.5 million for the world’s second set of Botanica Magnifica in the double-elephant folio size. (Singer plans 10 such sets and no more.) The sale price of $2.5 million would appear to give Singer the undisputed world record for a contemporary book of photographs”.

Read the full article : Vanity Fair | Photography | Flower Power, March 2008

! The University of Pittsburgh owns one of the rare, complete sets of John James Audubon’s Birds of America. Recently the University Of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS) has digitized and mounted online its collection of John James Audubon. The University presents the complete double elephant folio set of Audubon’s Birds of America, accompanied by his Ornithological Biography, through the website : University of Pittsburg.

See also information resources for everyone.

Impact of a photo project

I read this article some time ago. I Almost forgot to post it and share it with you, which would have been a shame as this is interesting reading…

The New York Times : A Patchwork Land Confronts a Lie of Whole Cloth

“Attila Durak, a New-York-trained photographer born in Turkey, compiled the book, traveling around Turkey for seven consecutive summers, living with families and taking their portraits.

His intent was to show that Turkey is a constantly changing kaleidoscope of different cultures, not a hard piece of marble monoculture as the Turkish state says, and that acknowledging those differences is an important step toward a healthier society”.