Photobooks, quickly, second edition

Responses to my previous post included a couple of ideas: Validation and forced growth.

Validation being the thing a photographer could achieve by having their work presented as a book, when otherwise uncomissioned and not selling work. To an extent I agree. There's nothing like seeing your work in print. However, to just order one copy, print on demand for example, is that one copy any use for anything? Even 20 copies. If buying 100 — 1000 copies, the risk and expense is great and to have 1000 books on the shelf doesn't validate anything, at least nothing positive. Even at just £1 / book for a cheap repro job, £1000 is a lot if not being commissioned and not selling.

Forced growth. The idea of putting work into a book to force the growth of a photographer, I disagree with. There are a lot of bad books, and they tend to be those that have just had pictures plonked in with no real consideration of the book or of sequence, narrative, even content. A book could expand an artist's or photographer's way of thinking / seeing their work, if carefully considered. There are certainly times when consideration of the body of work going into the book doesn't matter, and the concept is perhaps key. For example taking unseen / unknown images; making a new narrative through constructed pairings of otherwise unrelated images. This idea uses the simple function and form of 'the book', rather than the work itself being a coherent or cohesive body. A brief browse through Art Metropole or Printed Matter will uncover several.

A comment suggested using a photocopier to make zines to give away free. I'm all for free press, but again this has a context. Then there is the question of value, worth, "matter" as Francis Hodgson calls it. Is giving your work away free a positive move? Or is the zine not really your work and more of a business card? A zine instead of a business card is a great idea, but it has to work, doesn't it?

The questions shouldn't be read as obstacles. I encourage the breakdown of boundaries and genres. Equally though, restriction of some sort often generates the most interesting work. There's a lot to consider, and the first point of validation and cost leads onto funding issues. Funding is something else and needs something writing in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment