I can’t believe that we’re already half-way through August. Summer is almost over!
Here I am FINALLY getting around to my monthly update! Enjoy!
A few recurring themes I found that came up during the symposium that were of interest to me:
1. The use of text in a photo book.
2. The difference between an Artist Book and a Photo Book.
3. Shifted expectations about book publishing.
4. Is the photograph enough?
DAY 1: July 1, 2010
The first speaker was François Deschamp, and man was that a blast from the past! I first met François my freshman year at SUNY New Paltz where he was (and still is) a full professor in photography. He shared with us his fourth book Drone/ 1, 2, 3 as well as a slideshow of humorous photographs of his family helping him assemble his 250 edition book. He made sure to express to us that book-making is labor intensive. Not very glamourous… ha! His “book” is really three separately bound books in a tin can accompanied by a universal remote. He used both half-page flaps and gate flaps. The gate flaps he said were influenced by H. A. Rey. What I found interesting is when he spoke about why he included watercolor paintings in his book. He said that the photographs were “too real” and that his work was about imagination. To this day this statement has my brain in a tizzy. I will definitely be addressing this in a future post.
From Drone/ 1, 2, 3 by François Deschamp. [src]
Back to the symposium…
Danielle Mericle followed sharing with us her influences and her more recent book Seneca Ghosts. Influences included Francis Galton, Roni Horn, Thomas Ruff, and Stan Douglas. Danielle is partial to books due to their accessibility and the element of time and search for knowledge drive her to create.
Seneca Ghosts by Danielle Mericle. [src]
Next up was Ron Jude. Ron is the cofounder of A-Jump Books. He questions both the experience of engaging a photo and the expectations of photography. He shared the work of Charles Woodard, The History of Photography in Pen and Ink which I thought was brilliant. I might just have to buy one.
After lunch, Stephen Marc started things back up talking about the importance of mock-ups. His advice: ALWAYS bring work with you on a shoot to help explain to potential models the specs of your project. I have some printing to do! 😉 He also shared some composites and montages from his current project, Passage on the Underground Railroad.
The Graue Mill by Stephen Marc. [src]
Next up was Mike Mandel and Chantel Zakari. Husband and wife shared with us their new book The State of Ata. Here is an example of a photo-book with text; text about contemporary Turkey and relevant social issues. Zakari is from Turkey and shared with us stories of her youth. Up until this point I had never heard of Atatürk.
Afterwards we headed over to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography to watch Robert Frank: An American Journey followed by a gem of a film shot by Robert Frank himself at VSW with VSW students in 1971. Both films were interesting to watch, but the latter was really neat to view knowing I will be starting my gradate studies at VSW this fall.
DAY 2: July 2, 2010
Jason Fulford opened on Day 2. Influences include “White Noise” by Don DeLillo, “The Crying of Lot 49” by Thomas Pynchon, “Amerika” by Franz Kafka, “The Voyeur” by Alain Robbe-Grillet, “Forty Stories” by Donald Barthelme, “Omon Ra” by Victor Pelevin, “The Crack-Up” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Seven Types of Ambiguity” by William Empson, “Doctor Faustus” by Thomas Mann, and “Essays in Pragmatism” by William James. I am always looking for a new book to read so when Jason started naming off all of these books as his influences I made sure to take note. I am really stoked about this list! Kind of embarrassed to say I have never read any of them… but that will change! He went on to talk about J&L Books which he co-founded. I was happy to purchase his book Raising Frogs for $ $ $ and had him sign it for me. I really enjoy flipping through this book especially after hearing him talk about how and why he laid out the photographs contained within. The photographs each serve as clues, a form of language, while the chapters are specifically laid out to tell a story. His new book The Mushroom Collector comes out this fall.
Production shots of The Mushroom Collector by Jason Fulford. [src]
From Omaha Sketchbook by Gregory Halpern. [src]
Next up was Jeffrey Ladd. Jeffrey has kept a blog for 3 years now. Be sure to check out 5B4 Photography & Books. He is also the Creative Director of Errata Editions. This is an awesome project! It is self-funded which is mind-blowing. Books on Books titles are studies of original photo-books which are rare and hard to gain access to. Be sure to check out the website. Very cool.
After our lunch break, Susan kae Grant started things back up. She served up a very interesting lecture. She started out by talking about content and form. What is being communicated? How will the message be communicated? Susan is the Head of Photography and Bookarts at Texas Woman’s University. She also teaches workshops at ICP. She has published over a dozen books through her press Black Rose Press. She desires to tell a story through a narrative sequence. She shared with us this interesting project she did with her students where they create a Blurb book and then manipulate it. I have a few altered-book projects from high school and undergrad that I made. I might need to make another… altering my own book from Blurb! Have you used Blurb? What do you think of the quality?
Next was Theo Baart and Cary Markerink. In 1996 these Dutch photographers founded Ideas on Paper, a photo-bookworks publishing group. The dynamic duo spoke about the relationship between text and photographs. When should text be used? Be sure to check out their books. Pretty interesting stuff.
DAY 3: July 3, 2010
First up was Anne Wilkes-Tucker in conversation with Alec Soth. Alec shared with us Little Brown Mushroom Books (categorized as DIY books.) They went on to talk about the importance/value of book maquettes, art and its relationship with business, and how FUN photography is. I could go on and on, but you really had to be there. Jealous?
Next up was Alex Sweetman in conversation with Nathan Lyons. This was really exciting to watch. Living in Rochester, NY the name “Nathan Lyons” comes up A LOT and it was nice to see him in person and learn more about him and his work. Again, you had to be there. Now you’re really jealous right? You should be.
Closing commentary was made by the symposium moderator Carla Williams. She is currently a professor at RIT. She has a blog, CARLAGIRL PHOTO, which I was introduced to a few years ago in a Contemporary Issues course during my undergrad.
All 3 days were equally valuable in content. ARTBOOK was set up in the VSW store for our purchasing pleasure. It was nice to be able to browse through all of the books. I wish I could have afforded to buy more!
Overall, this symposium was a great experience. The only negative feedback I could possibly give would be how disappointed I was with some of the other attendees whose cell phones were going off during the lectures! Definitely a pet-peeve of mine. So rude.
July 28th I jumped on my computer to watch Kate Bingaman-Burt LIVE on Design Chat. I had never heard of Design Chat before and I have to say, this is a great site. It was fun to be able to watch a discussion on-screen. I have read so many on-line interviews on different design blogs and it is so much more personal to see an interview unfold before your eyes AND you are given the opportunity to join on in the discussion!
I have been a fan of Kate’s for a few years now after discovering her work through 20×200 when I was living down in NYC.
I asked her what advice she had for a current MFA student interested in teaching at the college level, and she came back with some sound advice. It’s really common sense. You need to enjoy what you do and bring that enthusiasm to your students. Grading is no fun, which I can’t imagine how it could be….maybe if using a fun iPhone app. 😉
WOW!! This is by far the looooooongest blog post I have done so far. It feels a little choppy, but truth is July was a super busy month and I sick of talking about it! Ha! Soon I will be posting my August Updates. Damn, time is FLYING!