Photography book symposium

I have booked my (free) ticket for the PhotographyBookNow symposium in London on Friday 10th October 2008. I’m not sure it is really aimed at hand binding of photo books but it looks fascinating. In any case, as I have had the intention of making of a book using for some time now I’m hoping to get some ideas and motivation. If anyone reading this (does anyone read this?) is going too, please drop me a line. It would be great to meet up.

Self with tree

Self with tree

Even as the September sun is shining, the morning chill today has my thoughts leading from autumn to winter. The wonderful sky is created by the vagaries of the pinhole process – though I’m still not sure how.

Berkswell church lamp

As autumn advances, I find my mood to be one of reflection and although I have a darkroom full of unworked negatives I have been reviewing some of my photos from the last year. I’m always amazed at what I ignore from a roll. I normally think that one good image from 120 and maybe two from 35mm is a success and sometimes, when I find the one which makes my heart leap in recognition, I have a tendency to skim over the rest of the roll. This often means that some of the subtler, or at least the less obvious, photos get passed by. Here is one such, made with a Populist cardboard camera handheld for about one second some time last winter at dusk.

Church lamp, Berkswell


Ash tree

The beautiful autumn weather is nearly upon us. My heart always quickens at the approach of this lovely time of year. I especially love the breezes, smells and, of course the trees. This photo is one I have used as part of a diptych but seems to embody for me the effect of the winds on the trees in the early part of the season. Oddly enough, it wasn’t taken in autumn but in early summer It hasn’t been until now that it has started to speak to me and I now realise that, in the wonderful pinholy way, the oak 8×10 camera I used had actually pictured another season.

Portfolio binder

I have been experimenting with hand-made folders and bindings for folios of prints. Constructed in the same way as the outer case or binding of a hardback book, such a folder really finishes off the presentation of a collection of artworks beautifully.

My first style is made simply of bookbinder’s board covered in buckram with a printed label pasted to the front. The inner of the folder has foldout edges made from heavy-grade watercolour paper or acid-free sketching paper to prevent the prints from slipping out when the folder is closed. Everything is fixed shut by a ribbon which is inserted and pasted into small slits in the covering material on the front and back. There is no spine to this folder which is perfect for small numbers of prints.

For collections of larger numbers of prints a spine is necessary to prevent the folder from compressing and possibly damaging the contents. This version with a 3/4 inch spine can comfortably hold 15 prints or more on 310gsm paper. The construction shown here is slightly different as I wanted to inlay the title plate. The front cover is made of two boards pasted together, the top one having a window cut out of the same size as the name plate. This inlaid section will hold the title plate and prevent it from standing proud of the surface and being damaged by anything else which it rubs against.

Front cover

Inside the folder

Inlaid title plate

I initially wanted the plate to be a brass etching. However, having spent many hours testing (and failing) some of the many suggestions available on the web for using toner transfer to create an etching mask, I have given up! I would love to pursue this further when time permits but so far I have come no where near the result I envisaged.

Photographers to discover

When talking to Chris Tancock recently, I promised to come up with a list of photographers’ websites which, in my own opinion, are especially worth visiting. Not all those on my list are pinholers but most, in fact, are. A blog seems an eminently good place to publish this so here goes. I have no doubt missed off many wonderful artists and they are in no particular order. The comments are mine…

Katie Cooke – wonderful thought-provoking pinhole self-portraits.
Gregg Kemp – inventive and insightful work, especially his lunar images.
Sean Duggan – polished and intriguing pinhole images.
Wayne Belger – the medium is the message, mind-blowing and fascinating cameras and images.
Bethany de Forest – finely-crafted, astonishing scenarios and dioramas.
Patrick Caloz – master of the townscape, look out for his Venice series. Stunning landscapes too.
Pierre-Olivier Boulant – continually interesting representations of the everyday.
Scott Speck – breathtaking super-wide images of architecture.
Danny Kalkhoven – strong colour work.
Chris Ellingerthe master of Zone Plate.

Dorothy Shoes – quirky, imaginative, engaging, full of fun.
Bill Schwab – beautiful minimalism.
Katie Cooke – perceptive, crafted lensed portraits.
Susan Burnstine – toy camera images full of soul and texture.
Ken Merfeld – words cannot express the staggeringly emotive effect of his work. Superlatives are insufficient.