The Gallery Context

Traditionally the photograph has been considered in terms of a print, and the high point of recognition for a photographer being an exhibition of their prints in a Fine Art Gallery. Galleries may present very different types of space in terms of lighting conditions, amounts and shape of space and general ‘feel’. But a tendency has been to galleries presenting white ‘neutral’ space. However the apparent ‘neutrality’ of this space needs to be questioned in terms of the implicit meanings this imposes on the image and the presumed ’empty mind’ of the viewer.

I would argue that a more interesting approach would be to acknowledge the importance of both context and the viewer’s life experience in giving meaning to the image, as valuable and integral parts of the art itself. This could mean displaying the same image in different conditions and explicitly promoting discussion of the ways that different life perspectives and everyday experiences of different viewers affect the meanings attributed. This could in turn lead photographers to discover ever more interesting perspectives and innovative approaches to their own work.

For the moment I do not have the equipment or skills to produce for gallery exhibition.

 5.1 The Origins of the White Cube

Photobooks: design and publishing

Print-on-demand and self-publishing

The expansion on print-on-demand services now makes self-publishing fairly straightforward. These enable direct sales through companies like Amazon at price mark-ups decided by the photographer. There are a number of services on offer that I looked at:

Review of options: https://www.cnet.com/news/best-and-worst-photo-book-making-websites-for-you/

But the one I chose – it is UK-based and offers the most flexibility together with full integration with Adobe CC Lightroom and InDesign is

This was very competitive on pricing with frequent price reduction deals once you are signed up. Shipping from Netherlands keeps postal costs reasonably low (will Brexit add taxes????) – though it is still more cost-effective to wait and order multiple publications. Blurb has teamed up with Adobe to enable easy compilation of books using plug-ins for Lightroom and InDesign. Blurb has its own software, but this offers less flexibility to edit images as they have to be sized, cropped and processed before they are laid out. The greatest flexibility for editing of the images is given in Lightroom. InDesign allows for much more sophisticated layouts of tiff images that can then be edited in Photoshop.

However the choice of book format and size, and paper stock is still limited compared to professional book publishing services.

Professional bookbinders

Bookbinding is a very specialist craft. Professional bookbinders can offer a range of quality services: mixing paper stocks, customised endpapers, gatefold pages and matching slipcases and boxes. A professional bookbinder can offer advice on materials and other design aspects, such as how easy it will be to physically open your book with your particular choice of paper, and how far your image needs to be printed from the gutter to be viewed properly, for example.

For an overview of different types of binding see

http://design.zemniimages.info/4-materials-and-process/binding/  (to be fully developed)

Book design issues

Some points to consider when designing or evaluating

  • Rationale: What is the purpose of the book? What is the main concept? Who is it for? Why do you want to present your work in a book? Is the book format really the most suitable medium in which to present your work? A badly printed or poorly designed book of your photographs will not be as well received as a simpler portfolio of good quality prints.
  • Selection and Editing: Edit your work strictly before even considering the layout.  Do all the images sit comfortably next to each other. Do any seem out of place? Can this be resolved, or should they be omitted?
  • Sequencing: Sequencing is paramount: consider how certain images relate to each other (graphically as well as in terms of the ‘connotations’ of an image, or the juxtaposition of images within the sequence).
  • Text: Will you use text? What will you say? Will the text complement and reinforce the images, or challenge the viewer through contrast or contradiction?
  • Typeface What typeface and style will you use? Pay as much attention to the words and their layout as you do to your photographs. Your choice of typeface communicates a lot about how you want your photographs to be read.

Book Module in Lightroom

Webinar from Blurb

Using InDesign series of videos

Adobe InDesign gives much more control over layout and also links to Blurb, or can be exported to pdf for other Print on Demand services.

For more discussion see my Book Design blog (to be completed by May 2017):

http://design.zemniimages.info/principles-and-process/typography/

http://design.zemniimages.info/principles-and-process/images/

Digital C-type

Digital C-Types (also known as ‘lambda’ or ‘lightjet’) use a digital-analogue hybrid process. This is the method used by high street labs nowadays, regardless of whether you supply them with a roll of film or a memory card. Traditional silver halide photographic papers are used in a machine that exposes the paper to light from LEDs or lasers that are directed by a computer, as opposed to the light transmitted through a negative in the darkroom enlarger. Once exposed inside the machine, the paper is passed through the same chemistry as that used in the traditional colour darkroom.

Since digital C-types are all but indistinguishable from C-type prints made from a negative in the darkroom, galleries and collectors will happily accept these kinds of prints. Although C-types are not absolutely permanent (we have all seen faded family photographs) and aren’t as resilient as black and white photographs to UV light, they have at least been ‘tried and tested’ in real life, rather than just in laboratory simulations.

Video Comparison of inkjet and C-type printing processes

Sources

Digital C-types are only produced by professional labs and institutions. The costs associated with setting up and running the equipment are very high and this is not a realistic option for most individuals. But many companies offer C-Types for less than the price of inkjets.

Different labs providing C-type printing use different machines and different brands of papers that will produce subtly different results and varying levels of quality. Some companies often offer postal services, such as sending test strips for you to assess, so you can instruct their technicians to make any adjustments to the exposure or colour balance before making the final print. They will then store the adjusted file for any future editions.

Lower-end C-types can also be ordered online at a greatly reduced cost with fast turnaround times.

Inkjet printing

Inkjet printers use an array of different colours and tones of ink that are applied onto specially coated paper. Inkjet prints can be produced on inexpensive domestic printers to make prints up to A4 size, A3+ printers can be bought from eg Canon and Epson for slightly more. Costly ‘large format’ printers that can produce prints up to 1.6 metres wide and potentially many metres long (as long as the roll of paper that the printer can accommodate).

Inkjet prints have had a negative reputation compared to traditional C-type prints for two main reasons. Firstly, cheap inkjet prints are more prone to fading by exposure to daylight – but some manufacturers now claim that their products can last at least as long (around 40 years). Secondly, technically they are not ‘photographic’ [ie light-writing] prints but prints of photographic images. This means many serious collectors may not buy inkjet prints.

As well as making slightly larger sized prints, inkjet prints can offer greater black and white contrast and more vivid colour saturation. They also allow for printing on a wider range of paper types.

Many established photographers make and sell archival quality inkjet prints (calling them giclee, Iris or archival pigment prints) printed on fine art papers.

See:

Mari Mahr website has monochrome archival pigment prints alongside more traditional black and white photographic prints.

Guy Tillim (documentary photogtapher from South Africa. Does not have his own website – see eg https://www.lensculture.com/articles/guy-tillim-documentary-in-a-new-context#slideshow but this does not give details of printing process.

John Riddy website

Neeta Madahar  Sustenance series (2006).

Types of printer

Most cheap inkjet printers can make useful ‘work prints’, soft proofs, and important learning log material (if you’re keeping a physical log). Investing in a high-end inkjet printer is only worthwhile if you intend to make quite a lot of prints regularly and put significant time into learning how to get the best performance from it. Ink cartridges are expensive, particularly quality professional inks, and if the photographic printer is not used frequently (i.e. weekly), the print heads can become clogged, leaving unsightly ‘banding’ on the image. Regular cleaning can prevent this, although it does waste ink. Some printers can be modified to accept what is known as a ‘continuous ink feed’ instead of cartridges, which will reduce ink costs considerably.

Preparation of the Print

See also colour management

Papers

Papers vary in surface (i.e. gloss, semigloss/ lustre, matt), rag content, colour and texture. Different paper stocks vary in how they respond to the printer’s ink, and will absorb ink in different quantities. Different printer profiles need to be set in the printing software for different types of paper to avoid unwanted colour casts and get the right level of contrast.

Giclee, archival pigment or Iris prints

Giclée is the name given to inkjets by professional printers and artists, although this term is unregulated. The term ‘Giclée’, a neologism coined by French printmaker Jack Duganne, is derived from the French verb ‘gicler’, which literally translates as ‘to squirt’ or ‘to spray’ and describes the way that the printer nozzle applies the inks – or pigment inks – to the paper. Duganne chose the term as he was looking for a word which would not have the negative connotations then associated with the terms ‘inkjet’ which had happened due to fading occurring in early prints.

While the term ‘Giclée’ originally referred to fine art prints created on IRIS printers (large format colour inkjet printers which became prevalent in the 1980’s) the term ‘Giclée’ has since been used in a wider sense to describe any prints made using an inkjet process. These prints are also often known as ‘pigment prints’ because of the inks (which contains miniature particles of colour, or pigment, suspended in a neutral carrier liquid) that are laid down by a digital printer. We use both ‘Giclée print’ and ‘Pigment print’ to describe an archival grade inkjet print produced directly to fine art paper.

Anyone claiming to produce giclée prints should be using the best quality archival inks and equally high quality paper, with professional colour calibration of the print to the monitor.

For more video tutorials on Inkjet printing and up-to-date reviews of different printers see: See You Tube videos

Artists’ statements

Exercise 5.7 Prepare your artist’s statement

An artist’s statement is sometimes referred to as a ‘statement of intent’. It can be seen as a marketing device, or simply as a means of describing practitioners’ interests. They:

  • vary in terms of their length and the details they cover.
  • may relate to a specific body of work or it may talk about practice more generally. probably contains information about any training (art college or other qualifications or experience relevant to their practice) and prizes, grants or awards that the artist has won, which are relevant to their practice. But is not the same thing as an artist’s CV, which lists any training, qualifications, awards, exhibitions and publications in much the same way as a conventional résumé.
  • huge variety in the style and format of artists’ statements; some will sound convoluted and esoteric and others will be more down to earth.

The Artist Statement (UCA)

A good artist statement will support your professional practice, for example:

  • Giving brief information to support an exhibition or catalogue
  • Submitting a proposal
  • Applying for a grant

It should be:

  • Concise
  • Effective in communicating the details you wish to emphasize
  • Written in the first person
  • Written primarily in the present tense

It should be adaptable in order to take into account:

  • Your audience
  • Your purpose or motivation for writing it

It might contain information on:

What your motivation is for the work you do:

  • What issues are you exploring and why?
  • What concepts, themes or convictions underpin your work?
  • How do your life experiences influence your work
  • How does your personality influence your work?
  • How have your ideas developed?

The techniques and materials you use:

  •  How and why did you choose them?
  • What scale do you work in?
  • Do you have a particular process of working?
  • Do you intend to explore other techniques or materials?

Your background:

  • Are you a student or a practicing artist?
  • Details of your educational history if you feel it appropriate
  • Have you contributed to any prestigious shows or events?

How you contextualise your work:

  • Where do you feel you fit into the Contemporary Art World?
  • Does your work challenge the work of others?
  • Have you appropriated or referred to the work of others?
  • Your goals and aspirations and to what extent you have realised them
  • Personal reflections on your work

Examples from coursebook

On the front page of Alec Soth’s website he writes:

“My name is Alec Soth (rhymes with ‘both’). I live in Minnesota. I like to
take pictures and make books. I also have a business called Little Brown
Mushroom.” (http://alecsoth.com/photography)

This is clearly very understated, perhaps even flippant, and it takes a reputation that precedes oneself to be able to write something as laconic as this! Often, an artist’s statement is written by another person (or is designed to sound as if it is by being written in the third person), which adds gravitas.

Jorma Puranen’s introduction to Imaginary Homecoming is somewhat more convoluted,
although it provides a thoughtful definition of landscape:

“A landscape is speechless. Day by day, its only idiom is the sensory
experience afforded by the biological reality, the weather conditions, and
the actions that take place in the environment. However, we can also
assume that a landscape has another dimension: the potential but invisible
field of possibilities nourished by everyday perceptions, lived experiences,
different histories, narratives and fantasies. In fact, any understanding of
landscape entails a succession of distinct moments and different points
of view. The layeredness of landscape, in other words, forms part of our
own projection. Every landscape is also a mental landscape.” (Jorma Puranen,1999, Foreword to Imaginary Homecoming, Oulu: Pohjoinen)

This statement about the work of Ola Kolehmainen is a good example of how a method of
presentation is linked to the concept of the work:

John Darwell

John Darwell is an independent photographer working on long-term projects that reflect his interest in social and industrial change, concern for the environment and issues around the depiction of mental health.

He has produced many series around issues of pollution and degradation of the human environment around Manchester and Sheffield and other parts of the North of England. Some of these are in Black and White, other series are in colour.

He has a comprehensive website of images.

His work has been exhibited, and published, widely both nationally and internationally, including numerous exhibitions in the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, the USA, (Houston Foto Fest, New York and San Francisco) Mexico, South America and the Canary Islands, and is featured in a number of important collections including the National Museum of Media/Sun Life Collection, Bradford; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

In 2008 he gained his PhD for research into the visualisation of depression for his work entitled ‘A Black Dog Came Calling’. He is currently Reader in Photography at the University of Cumbria in Carlisle.

‘Things Seen Whilst Wandering Around Attercliffe’ (Cafe Royal 2014),

‘Desert States’, images from the South West United States (the Velvet Cell 2014)

‘Grangemouth and the Forth Estuary’ (Cafe Royal Books 2014). ‘Sheffield: Hyde Park, Meadowhall and Ponds Forge (Cafe Royal Books 2013) ‘DDSBs’ (mynewtpress 2013) ‘Sheffield: Tinsley Viaduct’ (Cafe Royal Books 2013).  

‘Dark Days’ (Dewi Lewis Publishing 2007) documenting the impact of foot and mouth disease around his home in north Cumbria, and

‘Committed to Memory’ (Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery 2007)a twenty five year retrospective.

‘Legacy’ (Dewi Lewis 2001) an exploration of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. ‘Chernobyl’ volumes 1 and 2 (the Velvet Cell 2014)

‘Jimmy Jock, Albert & the Six Sided Clock’ on the Port of Liverpool (Cornerhouse 1993).

 

Clive Landen

Clive Landen is a British wildlife photographer concerned with our relationship with animals. His pictures are quite explicit and upsetting to view, but he photographs horror with profound sensitivity and an almost painterly quality that makes us really look at the subject matter.

The Abyss  series about the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak (only one photograph now available on line?). Landen began this project because restrictions meant that he couldn’t pursue his work on the relationship between the land and hunting. The impetus also came from childhood memories of the foot and mouth outbreak of 1967. Whilst the body of work is a pertinent historical document, it is also a personal one. Landen collaborated with the military and was seconded to a regiment, which allowed him free rein to access the sites where cattle were being burned and buried. He describes a photograph of one dead sheep amongst many as a “portrait of the sheep which looks benign, at peace.” (Landen (2007) in Source no. 51.)   His landscape containing a row of dead dairy cows and skeletons of trees is one of the most moving of the series. The pall of smoke that clung to these sites is visible, providing an almost painterly, pictorialist quality.

Familiar British Wildlife series of images of roadkills. Article Source magazine  Camera Club images

 

Photobooks: Inspiration

Types of Photobook

Surveys and catalogues

  • catalogues for exhibitions
  • ‘Survey’ publications draw together a collection of individual images or a group of practitioners working in a similar area. Some surveys seem more didactic or
    directed at the art market, such as 50 Photographers You Should Know (2008), Vitamin Ph: New Perspectives in Photography (2009), reGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow (2005) and reGeneration 2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today (2010).

Monographs and artists’ books

Monographs are mass-produced (relatively speaking), but often they are the primary context for the photographic work. A monograph published to coincide with an exhibition of an artist’s work may  draw together several different bodies of work, but it will be devoted to one practitioner alone.

An artist’s book may be produced in editions, but is generally more individual in terms of its design, the materials used and the printing technique or finish. Some may be printed, stencilled, stitched and embossed by the maker themselves. Others will be a collaboration with a professional bookbinder and a graphic designer.

Early photobooks

Many of these were topographic images for travel and tourism.

  • Francis Frith photographs from travels to Middle and Far East
  • John Thomson photographs from travels to Middle and Far East
  • Maxime Du Camp (1822–94)
  • Auguste Salzmann (1824–72)
  • Josiah Dwight Whitney (1819–96) published The Yosemite Book in 1868.

Some developed more innovative design

  • Soviet and Fascist propaganda books with novel design features, such as fold-out pages that extend the dimensions of an image

Inspiration

I have a large collection, but not had time to look through or properly review apart from getting some layout ideas.

Colour

  • Martin Parr: documentary photographer. Some of his works have been mass produced and re-printed (e.g. The Last Resort, 1986 and 1998); others have been limited editions or even more exclusive artist’s books such as Cherry Blossom Time in Tokyo, 2001. See: www.martinparr.com/books/. Layout in Last Resort has one, or very occasionally two, large images per spread, with white margin around and no border. This focuses attention on the content of the socially complex saturated colour images. There is a short introductory text at the beginning.
  • Paul Seawright : Invisible Cities a very large hardback book of colour images. Some images are full bleed crossing the whole spread, sometimes with some space to one side or top/bottom. Other spreads have only one half page image generally placed full bleed to one corner with the rest of the spread as white space. There is a text introduction to African cities at the beginning.
  • Urbex ‘Beauty in Decay’ this has beautiful limited palette images . The book is divided into chapters with some introductory text. But the book is mostly large images with  whitespace. Some images and spreads are on black background. A few text passages are on beige background. Some have black or white boders and vignettes to increase contrast.

Black and white

  • Daido Moriyama  Tales of Tono – small portrait format book of very high contrast black and white images. Full bleed in landscape across a double spread on black background. This makes the abstract flashes of white shapes in the often barely readable images standout. Text is reserved for a narrative section at the end. I like the moodiness of this book and all the images demand close attention in themselves, as well as producing an overall edgy impression as a apparently random narrative.
  • Algirdas Seskus ‘Love Lyrics’ Lithuanian 149 contrasty documentary Black and White images in landscape format. No text except the number of each photo and date. One or two large images per spread. No border with generous white margin.
  • Arunas Baltenas  Vilnius  2007 images from 1987. Small misty sepia images one per spread with no border and lots of white space. Delicate handwritten titles and date. One page introduction in English and Lithuanian at the beginning. No other text. I find the delicate nostalgia of this book really beautiful.
  • Henri Cartier Bresson in India  Thames and Hudson. 1987 with forward by Bengali film director Satyajit Ray. One large black and white photo per page with short caption. Black border on white paper. Occasionally one large and one small. The images themselves are quite low contrast. The black border makes the eye focus inwards.

At the Brighton Photography Biennial I saw a lot of interesting innovative designs, but did not have time to note all the details.

  • David Galjaard Concresco. A book about Albania. Has a brown opening cover with short explanatory text. Then  double page spreads with small white text insert pages. For this and other work see his website: http://www.davidgaljaard.nl
  • Dara McGrath ‘Deconstructing the Maze’  This has two coloured photographs on one side and page of text on the other. The strength here is in the photos. For this and other work see his website http://www.daramcgrath.com/index.html
  • Xavier Ribas  ‘Concrete Geographies’.  Photos of concrete blocks in Barcelona. See his website: http://www.xavierribas.com. This has inside views and links to vimeos of other books like Sanctuary – no text, one photo per spread. Sometimes a cross-over image. But the onscreen resolution is not good enough to really see the images.
  • Alessandro Rota A Neocolonialist’s diary.  Small paisley pattern cover. Coloured photos of sheets in Lusaka. Dark night streets. Lights. See his website . And vimeo of the book. https://vimeo.com/28099164
  • Irene Siragusa ‘Six weeks in Dublin’.   Lots of photos of spattered blood. Small juxtaposed rectangular images. website

Unknown author/title glimpsed over other peoples’ shoulders:

  • Book with glued images folded.
  • Aids (author???).  Small and simple brown cover. Photos of slits one on a page opposite a blank page.

 Sources and overviews

  • The Photobook: A History, Volumes I,  ll and III Gerry Badger and Martin Parr
  • The Chinese Photobook: Martin Parr and Wassink Lundgren from the Photographer’s Gallery exhibition
  • Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s Ryuichi Kaneko and Ivan Vartanian
  • Channels on YouTube and Vimeo with videos of certain books;
  • Tate video about William Klein which shows his assistant with one of Klein’s early maquettes:
  •  José Navarro discussing OCA students’ photobooks

OCA Student links

Joe Wright

Assignment 5: Perspectives on Kyrgyztstan