“I’m always picking things up and taking them home with me,” says Matthew Craven. “Just general knick knacks.” His finds include succulents, unusual rocks, and little bits of pottery that he displays in his home inTopanga Canyon, Los Angeles. But out of all of the things he collects, which also includes records and vintage NBA t-shirts, perhaps his strangest and largest collection is of school textbooks. The books usually date back to the 1950s or 60s, but “the older the better” says Craven. After finding a copy he likes in a second-hand book store, he’ll trawl through the internet, contacting sellers that may have many more in storage – usually schools or libraries. “Personally, it satisfies me to be able to find these old materials and preserve them in some little way possible,” he says. He then uses these books as source material for intricate collages, in which every element – from the images themselves to the paper they’re stuck on – are made out of found materials. Part of what satisfies him about this work …
“You’re always looking for that time where everybody forgets you’re there and becomes themselves. Surprisingly, they do, sometimes to the detriment of what you knew about them,” says Eugene Richards, who has devoted his career to documenting social injustice in America, and injecting himself into intensely personal situations.
Richards’ style is up-close and unflinching, “ironically it’s the process of becoming as not there as you possibly can, if you hang around long enough people don’t care”, he says. Though his photography has been described as poetic and lyrical, he has never thought of himself as an artist. “I went in with some knowledge of photography, but mostly with the idea of providing information,” he says.
Before becoming a photographer, Sean Hillen was a tinkerer. As a young teenager, one of his favourite pastimes was to take apart his grandfather’s old cameras and then piece them back together again. It wasn’t long before he discovered that with a bit of tweaking he could fix a brand new 120 roll of film into an outmoded 620 camera. “I did that, I got them developed, and I was immediately addicted to photography”.
Hillen grew up through the Troubles in Newry, Northern Ireland, close to the border with the Republic of Ireland. “It was utter chaos,” he says. “I knew people who got killed, and I knew people who killed other people”. Hillen and his four siblings would lie awake in bed at night listening to gun battles, which were so frequent that they were able to distinguish between the sounds of different weapons.
The creation of a dummy is an integral process for any photographer with aims on publishing their own photobook. It is a visual mockup for a proposed project, created before being sent to the publishers. Organised by La Fábrica in collaboration with Photo London, the Book Dummy Award selects a entry that is renowned for its quality, uniqueness and international scope, the winners of the award will then have their dummy physically realised. The competition encourages photographers from anywhere in the world to submit a physical copy of their dummy, under the rule that no digital copies may be entered. One winner from 20 finalist dummies will then be selected by an international jury. The winner’s work will be published with a print run of at least 1000 copies, and distributed worldwide. Photographers submit entries from all over the world, as in 2017 there were participants from 45 countries and every continent. The winner of the 2017 edition was Iranian-born, Swiss photographer Arunà Canevascini. Nominated as one of British Journal of Photography’s Ones to Watch …
History confirms it – the first photobook was made by a woman, with British photographer Anna Atkins publishing Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in 1843, a year before Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature. Still, many historians, including Allan Porter in his introduction to The Photobook: A History, dismiss Atkins’ work as “photographic prints” rather than photography.
“Unfortunately, this is far too often emblematic of the uphill battle women photobook-makers still encounter when we talk about their history,” says Russet Lederman, co-founder of 10×10 Photobooks. “As we conducted research for the How We See project, we discovered that although women photographers produce relatively equal numbers of photobooks to men, their representation in the higher-profile sectors was, and still is, disappointing.”
Only a small percentage of the 400 books that Ben Krewinkel has collected and featured on his website, Africa in the Photobook, are actually African. Many are historical publications, political pamphlets, or children’s books, written, photographed, and published by Europeans – including old colonial texts, which seem to obsess over hairstyles and traditions of scarification. Even the books by contemporary African photographers are mostly published in the West. As a collection that covers more than a century from 1897 to 2018, Africa in the Photobook follows the changing visual representations of the continent through the medium of the photobook – and soon it too will be transformed into a series of photobooks.
Krewinkel, a Dutch photographer, curator, and educator, is working with South African publishers Fourthwall Books on this series, and hopes to publish volume I by the end of 2019. Focusing on Africa under colonialism, it will include a long historical introduction, 40 case studies, and plenty of space to show large spreads from the books. Volume II will sketch a path from the beginnings of decolonisation in the 1950s to the late 1990s, marking the end of Apartheid and also the “re-evaluation of African photography”. Krewinkel then hopes to create a third volume, focusing on contemporary African photo books.
Founded in 2015 by Chinese photographer RongRong (who also also founded China’s first photography museum, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre) with Sam Stourdzé, director of Rencontres d’Arles, the Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival is the biggest of its kind in China. It returns this November with 30 exhibitions by over 70 artists, including shows brought over from Arles and exhibitions devoted to emerging Chinese image-makers.
The Jimei x Arles Discovery Award nominees features work by ten new Chinese photographers, for example – with one image-maker selected from the show to win 200,000 RMB plus a place in Arles’ prestigious Discovery Awards. This year the nominees are: Coca Dai (1976), Hu Wei (1989), Lei Lei (1985), Pixy Liao (1979), Lau Wai (1982), Shao Ruilu (1993), Shen Wei (1977), Su Jiehao (1988), Wong Wingsang (1990), and Yang Wenbin (1996)
Laia Abril, Nina Berman, Sohrab Hura, and Carmen Winant are all in the running for the prestigious Paris Photo/Aperture Foundation Photobook of the Year Award, which will be announced on 09 November at Paris Photo.
In total ten books have been shortlisted for the award; in addition, 20 books have been shortlisted for the First Photobook, and five for the Photography Catalogue of the Year. All the shortlisted books will go on show at Paris Photo and at the Aperture Foundation in New York, then tour to various venues across Europe, as well as being featured in the Autumn 2018 issue of The Photobook Review. In addition the Photobook of the Year winner will receive $10,000.
Brussels-based photographer Rebecca Fertinel has won the Unseen Dummy Award with her book Ubuntu. The book was shot in a Congolese community in Belgium, which Fertinel first visited in August 2015, when she was invited to a wedding by a friend. Whilst there she was introduced to a warm and friendly society, and the concept of “ubuntu” – the idea that “you become a human being by connecting with everything and everyone”.
The judges were particularly impressed with the editing of Fertinel’s book proposal which, they say, “transforms documentary photography into an unexpected narrative flow of community events”. The images move from one party to another party to a funeral, for example, the latter creating “a kind of breaking point” in the middle of the book, creating “a kind of dance where you don’t know what comes after”, and thereby summing up something about life.
Last week, a group of Croatia’s leading cultural pioneers welcomed the 10th jubilee edition of Organ Vida photofestival. Co-curators, Marina Paulenka and Lea Vene were joined by Nataša Ivančević, Paola Orlić, Morana Matković, Nevena Tudor Perković and Veljko Mihalić to address visitors and guests at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb for the grand opening, getting the festival underway for the tenth consecutive year. The opening of the festival signalled the announcement of the second annual Marina Viculin prize to photographer Denis Butorac. Using personal experience as a driving force behind his work, he focuses on family, intimacy and the sense of ‘(not) belonging’. Following the opening week, the exhibitions are now open to the public, free of charge, during the month of September. Hosted by a number of galleries throughout Zagreb as well as in the Croatia’s biggest and most modern museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the works on display explore creative interpretations of the contemporary female experience. Each show follows the main theme, borne out of a desire to combat modern …