Martin Brink was born in 1984 and lives and works in Helsingborg, Sweden. He published his first book, The Daily Round, in 2009 and has more recently been producing small book projects available for digital download.
Josephine Dvorken received her B.F.A. from the University of New Mexico and her Master of Professional Studies degree from the School of Visual Arts in 2011. Her book projects A. Blessing and Familiar Strangers were recognized in the international Photography Book Now competition. She lives in New Jersey.
For the past five years, Kassel Germany has been home to the most important annual forum on the world of photography books, the International Fotobook Festival. This year, with the Documenta exhibition taking over the city of Kassel, the Le Bal photography museum in Paris hosted the Fifth International Fotobook Festival from April 20 – 22.
The festival is a weekend full of artist lectures, book exhibitions, booksellers and publishers showcasing their most recent offerings, portfolio reviews and awards for the “best” photobooks from the previous year. For photographers hoping to find interest in their yet-to-be-discovered book projects, the main attraction of the Kassel Festival is its “photobook dummy” competition for the best unpublished photobook mock-up. The first place winner receives a publishing contract with the German publisher Seltmann und Sohne. The second and third place winners receive several hundred euros worth of credit from the print-on-demand service Blurb.
This year, the dummy competition was between fifty-eight books culled from over five hundred entries, ranging from very roughly hand-made objects to the most finely polished in editing sequencing, design and printing. All books selected are tethered to tables and prominently displayed, encouraging visitors to leaf through them and discover new talents. On Saturday, a small panel of experts in the field convened in the closed galleries to passionately argue their opinion and decide on the three winners. This year’s panel included; Gerry Badger (Critic, Photographer, London), Todd Hido (Photographer, USA), Dieter Neubert (International Photobook Festival, Kassel), Laurence Vecten (Lozen Up, Paris), Oliver Seltmann (Publisher, Berlin), Diane Dufour (Director Le Bal, Paris), Andreas Müller-Pohle, European Photography, Berlin), Markus Schaden (Bookseller, Publisher, Cologne) and Sebastian Hau (Le Bal Books, Paris).
And the envelopes please…
Third place went to Andrea Botto and his book 19.06_26.08.1945. Created in the memory of his grandfather Primo Benedetti, the book traces his journey through Northern Germany to his home in Tuscany after being released from a Nazi prisoner of war camp on June 19, 1945. Botto’s approach was to compile images from the internet by searching dates in tandem with the names of cities through which her grandfather passed. Pages of historical images are combined with 1:1 scale personal documents and letters sent to his family during his imprisonment. The resulting book feels as if the reader has discovered an encyclopedia of war filled with tender personal documents slipped between its pages.
The second place winner is much harder to pin down in a few words. Liebe Grüße aus 18500m Höhe, MICHELLE (Best Wishes from 18,500m High. Michelle) from the Italian photographer Carmen Catuti is about a man who calls himself Michelle and says he’s a professional model. Catuti photographed her subject as he wished to be photographed according to his own conceptions “as a modern man” posing among arrangements of trees and shrubbery, cleanly drawn from darkness by flash. Mixed in are very brief texts, possibly letters from Michelle challenging the collaboration; “Plain backgrounds are often too boring. A picture must immediately be elegant, exciting and original.” This book is a U.F.O. (Unique Foto Object?) and the world of photobooks needs more sightings like this.
The top honors for the 2012 Photobook Dummy Award went to a remarkable body of work from Dagmar Keller and Martin Wittwer and their collaborative book Passengers. During a residency in Poland in the winter of 2011-2012, Keller and Wittwer were initially looking to start a project photographing Socialist architecture but discovered instead a tangential subject: a bus station in Kielce and its passengers awaiting departure within dozens of regional buses. Framing their subjects from outside, looking in through the frost and mist of the bus windows, the couple photographed individually but combined the results into a sequence of images that seem to have a completely unified voice. Calling upon the long traditions of portraiture and documentary style work, the images are stunningly intimate and beautiful but without the trap of sentimentality.
Congratulations to the winners! I find it refreshing that a majority of the winners from the past two years have been women. The history of the photobook, as written, is remarkably male-heavy. These contest results point toward a new horizon that may very well restore some balance.
Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions. Visit his photo book blog 5B4 here.
Christopher Anderson, 1970, Canada/USA, is an all rounded photographer who is well-known for his documentary / photo-journalistic work. He has traveled extensively to conflict zones throughout the world as Israel, Afghanistan and Haiti. He photographed these conflicts from a personal point of view. In 2009 he released the book Capitolio, a cinematic journey into Caracas, Venezuela. “He notates the country’s current incongruities, where the violent and the sensual intermingle chaotically.” (Magnum Photos) A recent body of work is called Son. He photographed his wife, his son and his father who was ill with cancer. Due to the birth of his son and several other happenings Christopher has decided to step away from war photography. Son is a very intimate and emotional project, touching themes as the cycle of life. It is a project that defines the real reasons for our existence and our drive as human beings. Christopher joined Magnum Photos in 2005 and became a full member in 2010. He has worked on commercial fashion shoots and had portrait sessions with people as Lady Gaga, Lance Armstrong and Al Pacino. The following images come from his book projects Son and Capitolio and from his story on Bethlehem.
Mark Squires, 1971, USA, is a fashion, celebrity and portrait photographer based in New York City. He is currently working on two personal book projects entitled Girls, Girls, Girls and My Black Hat. In the beginning of 2011 he released the book Flip. The book contains snippets in time spend individually with four different women which created a certain freedom between subject and photographer. The images are sensual, playful yet elegant. Mark has worked for a large number of magazines as V Magazine, Rolling Stone and L’Uomo Vogue. He also worked with a large number of celebrities as M.I.A., Mary J. Blige, Marion Cotillard and Jack White and worked with bands as No Doubt and Die Antwoord. His photographs are stylish yet contain an element of rawness and spontaneity. The following images come from the portfolios Fashion, Celebrity/Portrait and My Black Hat.
I met Andy Adams at Review LA 4 or 5 years ago, though we had been corresponding prior to that, and knew that I would immediately like the guy, not only because we wear similar glasses, but because he had such a passion for photography. He started Flak Photo as part of Flak Magazine, with the simple premise of looking at one photograph a day (along with bodies of work featured on the site). Andy and the Flak Photo Network have evolved into a one-man powerhouse of knowledge and connectivity. He’s been on the road giving lectures and serving on panels at many photo related events around the county and recently started two Facebook Group pages, Flak Photo Network Group (with 2214 members and counting), and Flak Photo Photo Books. These groups (anyone interested on FB can join) allow for community, sharing, and conversation.
This is a typical statement from Andy:
I’m passionate about working with digital media to foster the art & culture of photography.
Interested in collaborating? Email me to chat about your project.
Another area that Andy is passionate about is the ever changing world of photobooks…in Andy’s words and a video of his recent lecture are below:
What will photobooks become over the next ten years?
Five years ago, I created FlakPhoto.com, a website that promotes photographers, book projects, and exhibitions from within the online photo community. In December 2009, I teamed up with Miki Johnson to produce The Future of Photobooks, a cross-blog conversation that considered the outlook for producing, consuming and funding independent photography publications. This summer I traveled to the Flash Forward Festival to join a panel of editors, publishers and designers who explored the state of photobooks in the Internet Era.
Here is the video from that event:
Christian Anderson is a humanist and an artist all rolled into one terrific photographer. He is widely known for his editorial and advertising work, but has a host of book projects, including Son, featured below. Christian will be teaching a workshop at the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville from June 4-9th, and if you are inclined, it looks like a wonderful opportunity to learn from someone who wants to help photographers grow and discover meaning in their work.
Born in British Columbia, Christopher spent his early years in Texas, where his father was a preacher, before moving to New York City and then Paris. He began working at newspapers including Dallas Morning News and a small Colorado newspaper. In 1996, he became a contract photographer for U.S. News and World Report . He would go on to spend the next several years photographing extensively in conflict zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon including following the first company of American soldiers to enter Baghdad in 2003. Later that year he published his first monograph, Nonfiction.
“In 2004, Anderson began following the “revolution” of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. This work would become his second book, Capitolio (published in 2009) and is the culmination of four years of photographs. He joined the VII Agency in 2002, and became a Magnum nominee in 2005 and member in 2010. He has served as a contract photographer for Newsweek magazine since 2005. He lives in New York with his son and wife.”