Blurb Photography Book Now 2011

July 6th, 2011


The deadline for this year’s Blurb Photography Book Now is July 14, 2011 and I am looking forward to meeting in New York at the end of the summer with this year’s panel of judges to spend the day looking at books for the competition.

I’d like to thank Darius Himes and Blurb for inviting me to be a judge this year. And I would like to thank Rebecca Drobis, a Washington, D.C. photographer and recently chosen as one of PDN’s 30 2011, for my professional headshot.

The Photography Book Now competition celebrates self-publishing and awards a $25,000 cash prize for the winning book. Many people wrongly assume that the competition is limited to only Blurb books. The competition is open to ALL self-published books. I encourage you to submit your handmade books. Darius Himes discusses the competition here.

As one of the jurors Lori Reddy asked me a few questions for the Blurb blog. I’d like to post the whole interview here:

1. Please describe what makes a great successful photobook to you.
LL: Aesthetically speaking, a successful photobook is one in which all of the pieces make sense together. It should be more than just a book of photographs. And for me these books are objects in and of themselves and I see them as collectible works of art.
2. Do you have any advice for photographers working on book projects?
LL: Make it a creative expression of the photographic project and yourself. Be realistic about the print run for your book. Think about the life of the book once it is created. Make sure a copy exists in at least one public collection.
3. What is a favorite photobook that you own or have seen from the last few years?
LL: That is a difficult question. I have trouble narrowing down my favorites every year to under twenty. Two books that immediately come to mind though are – for creativity and use of materials: Kitintale by Yann Gross which I nominated for the 4th International Photobook Award 2011 – and for content and form: Fifty-One Years by David Goldblatt (Actar). The Goldblatt photobook is a small reference book that provides an indepth overview of Goldblatt’s work and includes his early “On the Mines” series.
4. What is the most exciting aspect of the photography scene right now?
LL: Obviously I am excited about the self-published and indie published photobook scene right now. Whether you use Blurb or not to make your photobook, they have revolutionized our way of thinking in regards to traditional book publishing, and I look forward to seeing this germinate in photo communities that have yet to really explore the platform of the photobook.
5. You have a wonderful blog post listing your favorite self-published photography books for 2010. We know it’s still early but do you have any that you think will make your list for 2011?
LL: Thank you. It is still early for me yet and at the moment my thoughts are on my list of photobooks for the Indie Photobook Library’s first feature-length exhibition at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston which opens in September. I will mention, however, the book Svalbard by Greg White and Firework Studies by Pierre Le Hors (Hassla) – two books from 2010 but ones that I just saw this year.
6. What do the most compelling/most memorable photography books have in common?
LL: The most memorable books are the ones in which I forget about myself for a moment, lose track of my surroundings, and enter into the reality in the photographs. And from that response, it may seem that the book form is of no importance, but it is. The form and materials should aid in experiencing the work.
7. What photography blogs do you like/follow?
LL: I get all my news through facebook and twitter and follow hundreds of different people and organizations that way.
8. Is there anything we didn’t ask you that you think would be helpful or informative to anyone entered in or thinking of entering Photography Book Now 2011?
LL: If you are making a Blurb book, don’t forget about the spine.
Good luck to everyone entering PBN 2011!

Book Review: Bird Watching by Paula McCartney

March 6th, 2010

Bird Watching Paula McCartney bookBird Watching
Photographs by Paula McCartney. Texts by Darius Himes and Karen Irvine
Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2010
120 pp., 40 color illustrations, 8×10″

Paula McCartney has been making unique and limited edition artist books for many years. She sees the book as a medium and visualizes much of her photographic work in book form, many of her photographs exist only in the artist book. McCartney’s first trade edition, published by Princeton Architectural Press, will be welcomed by individual collectors interested in McCartney’s work, as it is both affordable in comparison to her artist books and beautiful. The monograph is an expanded version of her artist book Bird Watching and includes every image from the series. Mimicking a private field guide journal, McCartney takes the reader on the most successful bird watching quest, or so it seems at first glance.

Paula McCartney
McCartney meticulously notes all the necessary details for credible bird watching – name, location, date, size, coloring and remarks. She also includes drawings, diagrams, plant specimens, a life list, and journal-like notes about her bird watching travels. What makes this book obviously much more than a personal field journal are the added elements of context – essays by Karen Irvine and Darius Himes, the playfully subtle references to the creative fiction McCartney has crafted (the map of “Migration Patterns of a Bird Watcher”), and, of course, the photographs. No bird watcher could ever capture what McCartney has captured in her images. McCartney set up her camera just feet away from the birds – an unrealistic closeness – as though she said, “Hey bird, stay right there. Let me take your picture. Could you move a little more to the left on that branch? Okay. Great. That’s the shot!” McCartney has taken the watching, the waiting, and the long lens out of bird watching to create stunning photographs of forests and brush with perfectly placed birds – and I do mean placed. McCartney has wired these birds to their branches in the real natural environment. As opposed to McCartney’s earlier series “Bronx Zoo” of real birds in constructed habitats, she reverses the elements, putting faux birds in the real environment and does so in a much more convincing way than pink flamingo lawn ornaments or deer statues on the woodland edge of a suburban lawn.
Paula McCartney
Realizing this forgery, I started to question many things in the book. Can one actually find a Northern Cardinal in Oregon at all? Are the plant specimens real? I am caught up in McCartney’s fictitious creation, but I don’t mind. I quietly observe the peaceful birds in what may or may not be their natural habitat, and find humor in the flatfooted Winter Bluebirds wired onto their tree branches. Unworldly skill would be needed for McCartney to have captured the exact transitional moment when a bird releases its grip from the branch before it starts to hop or fly away.

I’m not an armchair traveler but I am definitely an armchair bird-watcher with Paula McCartney’s Bird Watching, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Originally published in photo-eye magazine, March 5, 2010. Books can be purchased through photo-eye.

Bird Watching is on view at KLOMPCHING March 4-April 23, 2010; Paula McCartney and Darius Himes discussion and book signing March 6, 2010 from 1-2pm at the gallery. That’s today!

An interview with Paula McCartney about visualizing her work in book form and her journey in making the artist book Bird Watching into the trade edition is included in the forthcoming book Publish your Photography Book! by Darius Himes and Mary Virginia Swanson, also by Princeton Architectural Press, Fall 2010.

Paula McCartney’s Bird Watching opens tonight at KLOMPCHING

March 3rd, 2010

Paula McCartney, Bird Watching at KLOMPCHING

Head over to KlompChing Gallery tonight for Bird Watching (and people watching) from 6-8pm. About her work, Paula McCartney says, “[r]ather than settling for what nature has to offer, I have taken control and adorned the trees with their longed for, but absent, tenants.” The truth is in the details. Look closely.

And don’t miss the discussion and book signing with Paula McCartney and Darius Himes on Saturday March 6, 2010 from 1-2PM. Bird Watching is published by Princeton Architectural Press and is based on McCartney’s artist book of the same name.bookBirdWatching

Related posts: Book Review: Bird Watching by Paula McCartney.

Joining the conversation about photobooks

December 13th, 2009

Andy Adams of Flak Photo and Miki Johnson of RESOLVE have joined forces in beginning a crowd-sourced dialogue about the future of photobooks. They’ve asked, “What do you think photobooks will look like in 10 years? Will they be digital or physical? Open-source or proprietary? Will they be read on a Kindle or an iPhone? And what aesthetic innovations will have transformed them?” George Slade has weighed in; so has Elizabeth Avedon, Amy Stein and Darius Himes, and Jörg Colberg wants to see more “curated photo books.” Considering the nature of this discussion (crowd-sourced) and the people involved, the answer is simple – anyway we want them to look.

The book form is not going anywhere and the photobook “publishing” industry of today is ever expanding – limited edition artist books, print-on-demand, indie publishers, self-published books, and the gamut of small to large traditional publishers. (After all, what would replace books as the backdrop for countless expert TV interviews? Okay, sarcasm aside.)

When Words Without Pictures (another crowd-sourced discussion on the “directional shifts in photography”) came out last year in book format, it was offered as either a printed book or a downloadable PDF. While I saw the benefits of getting a digital version (easily searchable), I preferred the flip-able, tangible book and made the conscious choice of buying a traditional printed and bound book. As the title suggests though, there were no photographs and this is a discussion about photobooks.

I’ll approach this topic as a collector of photography and photography books. There are different reasons to love and collect photobooks – the photographer, the body of work, the design, the aesthetics, the new-book-smell, the object itself, etc. The photobook is a creative expression in its own right. Losing the book as object is losing a unique visual expression. Having an e-book on some sort of e-reader defeats part of the purpose and the reason for collecting. Just look at a photographer’s website if you are going to look at photographs on a digital platform photobook – unless, that is, if the digital format has furthered the photobook in ways that the traditional book cannot.

The digital format does prove beneficial when talking about out-of-print books or of photography work not available on the internet. I’m thankful for Martin Parr and Gerry Badger’s The Photobook: A History Volumes I and II so I can reference books not in my personal collection without spending the entire day at the Library of Congress. I’m also thankful for Errata Editions for resurrecting classics through their Books on Books series. And I like that Google is digitizing books. Putting aside the debate over copyright issues, being able to virtually flip through a hard-to-find book in order to do research, as a reference, or to assess if I want to buy it or not is extremely useful. If the choice is a digital version or nothing – I will choose the digital document and then eventually seek out the original hard copy.

So what will photobooks look like in ten years? I see more limited edition artist books, self-published and independent ventures, more photographer collaboration, and multi-media “books.” Maybe there will be a museum for photography books (different in nature than a library) and maybe someone will have come up with book materials that aren’t so delicate – no scuffing, no paper disintegration, no cracked binding, no pages pulling away from the spine. It would solve my neurosis of wanting to own a pristine copy and be able to enjoy it at the same time.

Darius Himes and Chris Colville TONIGHT at FotoWeek DC

November 12th, 2009



Blagden Alley map.
FotoWeek DC listing.
More info.

Blurb Photography.Book.Now Winners at FotoWeek DC

November 11th, 2009

Blurb at FotoWeek DC

I love photography books and this year for FotoWeek DC I was part of the Photobook/Publisher Exhibition Committee. Over 250 books are being displayed this week at FotoWeek DC on M Street in Georgetown from over 50 publishers. A unique inclusion this year, spearheaded by myself, are the Photography.Book.Now 2009 Winners. What amazing work! Congratulations to all the winners.

“Photography.Book.Now is an international juried self-published book competition, and a celebration of the most creative, most innovative, and finest photography books – and the people behind them.” The competition organized by Blurb and run by lead judge Darius Himes considers self-published books in three categories – Fine Art, Editorial and Commercial. More than 2400 submissions from 50 countries were entered in the competition. Rafal Milach, the Grand Prize Winner, won $25,000. Coincidentally, the FotoWeek DC exhibition InsideOutside: New Images from Russia, curated by Lucian Perkins, includes work by Rafal Milach.

Rafal Milach

Rafal Milach

Kurt Tong

Kurt Tong

  • Black Sea of Concrete by Rafal Milach – Grand Prize Winner
  • People’s Park by Kurt Tong – Editorial Category Winner
  • Pose by Andrea Stultiens – Editorial Category 1st Runner Up
  • In Case It Rains in Heaven by Kurt Tong – Editorial Category 2nd Runner Up
  • F Ampersand by Duwayno Robertson – Editorial Category People’s Choice Award
  • i sell fish. by Joshua Deaner – Fine Art Category Winner
  • Some Fox Trails in Virginia by Susan Worsham – Fine Art Category 1st Runner Up
  • +walker evans +sherrie levine by Hermann Zschiegner – Fine Art Category 2nd Runner Up
  • Capturing the Light by Lewis Kemper – Fine Art Category People’s Choice Award
  • Volume One by Dennis Kleiman – Commercial Category Winner
  • Editorial Stories by Michael Creagh – Commerical Category 1st Runner Up
  • portfolio by Sara Lando – Commercial Category 2nd Runner Up
  • JASON JOSEPH photography by Jason Joseph – Commercial Category People’s Choice Award

Radius Books / Violet Isle

November 5th, 2009



IMG_1249Radius Books has just published Violet Isle, a poetic photographic portrait of Cuba, by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb. This unique softbound book with a recycled cardboard-esqe slipcase is yet another great example of Radius’ creative approach to photography book design. Ricco Maresca Gallery in Chelsea is hosting the book launch party and reception for the exhibition this evening, Thursday, November 5 from 6-8pm. The exhibition at Ricco Maresca will be up until January 2, 2010. There is also a gallery talk and book signing this weekend at the gallery on Saturday from 4-6pm.

If you are in DC next week, Violet Isle, as well as seven other recently published titles by Radius Books, will be on display in the Publisher Exhibition of FotoWeek DC at 3333 M Street NW. Darius Himes will also be in town giving a talk, “Who Cares About Books?” on Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 5pm at 1215 Blagdens Alley NW. Come by!

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