Tag Archives: Cutting Edge

Photo News – New issue of revamped Hotshoe App Edition for iPad and iPhone is out now

Great! by Photobooks
Great mag, really like the content, hadn’t seen any of it before, cool design too. Highly recommend

Fantastic! by Jenna Banat
Highly recommend this magazine app – really nice layout, easy to navigate through and fascinating content!
Readers comments from iTunes site

The second edition of the revamped Hotshoe App Edition is out.

Browse all the content from the bi-monthly print edition  showcasing the latest in contemporary photography presented as a curated, interactive experience:

  • Extended portfolios
  • Interactive exhibition listings
  • Text-only function and cutting-edge articles and reviews
  • The latest multimedia pieces from the most exciting photographers around.

Hotshoe’s App Edition is available on your iPad and iPhone from the iTunes store. Download the app for free and then subscribe for one year for just £9.99, and get the latest issue of Hotshoe directly to your device every other month.

Filed under: HotShoe magazine, iPad app, Photographers, Photography Products, Uncategorized Tagged: bi-monthly, contemporary photography, Hotshoe App Edition, HotShoe magazine

Photo News – Hotshoe Magazine App Second Edition revamped

Hotshoe App new edition brings you the latest content and ability to interact and join in the discussion and debate on photography.

Hotshoe magazine has revamped its App for the second edition bringing you the latest in contemporary photography in a curated, tailor-made, interactive experience.

Expect highlights from the bimonthly print edition as well as extended photo galleries, interactive gallery listings, text-only versions and cutting-edge articles and reviews. Plus the latest multimedia pieces from some of the most exciting photographers working today.

What’s New in Version 6.0.3?
Version 6 is a major update. If you have previously purchases issues with this application you will need to restore them from the settings page. Hotshoe magazine is now using the latest version of the Stonewash Magazine Framework.

Download the app for free and then subscribe for one year for just £9.99, and get the latest issue of Hotshoe directly to your iPad every other month. To read more about the app and download, go to Itunes.

Do let us know what you think of the newer version.

Filed under: HotShoe magazine, iPad app, Photographers Tagged: contemporary photography, Hotshoe App Edition, Hotshoe iPad app, HotShoe magazine, iPad app

Interview: Yannick Bouillis, Founder of Offprint Paris

Offprint Paris 2010 (© Gallery Fotohof Salzburg)

Yannick Bouillis, a former journalist and bookseller from France, is the founder of Offprint Paris, “a project space for contemporary photography and a book fair for independent publishers.” He also recently organised the Amsterdam Art/Book Fair 2011 in collaboration with De Brakke Grond Amsterdam. I interviewed him over the summer to find out more about the second edition of Offprint Paris coming up in November, his thoughts on photobooks today and why the Dutch are so damn good at making photobooks.

You used to be a political journalist, how did you first become interested in photobooks?

I am not so much interested in photobooks per se. I am drawn to photobooks because the experimentation and innovation of the avant garde in photography has always taken place through publications. I came to photobooks because I realized that the place to find the most cutting edge work was not in a museum or a gallery but in the form of a publication. If tomorrow the space for formal innovation in photography becomes the exhibition then I will turn my attention to exhibitions. Today, if you want to be aware of the most interesting new trends in photography you need to be looking at photobooks or magazines, rarely at exhibitions.

Do you think the book has always played a crucial role in photography as a venue for the avant garde?

With contemporary art, there are a large number of spaces open to young or emerging artists in which to experiment. This is not the case in the photo world. With photography, from the beginning there have been a restricted number of spaces for photographers to exhibit their work and the book quickly became the primary venue for photography. As a result of this lack of spaces and the restrictions of commercial assignments, many photographers came to perceive the book as the most important output for their work. I would say this is still true today: specialists and experts who want to know what’s going on in photography still have to buy photobooks.

The focus on the so-called ‘collectible’ aspect of photobooks, which is reinforced by the endless “best photobook” awards (are there not enough competitions in daily life already?) masks the importance of the photobook within photography.

Most academics try to understand photography by importing concepts from contemporary art, where books do not play a key role, but failed obviously to understand that photography has a specific way of organising itself, generating its own validation process. The “school – gallery  – museum – art fair” sequence does not operate in photography. Even the oppositions between the ‘art’, ‘commercial’ and ‘amateur’ fields don’t operate like they do in art.

Bart Julius Peters, Hunt

Although you are French you have been based in Holland for many years. Holland seems to be punching above its weight in the photobook world in terms of inventiveness and experimentation. What do you think makes the Dutch so good at making photobooks?

I think there are two things that need to be separated out: there is the question of photography in Holland, which is very avant-gardist, daring to explore new fields and new practices like videos, installations, performances… and then there are photobooks in Holland. If there is one field where the Dutch are the best in the world, it is graphic design. While Dutch photography is generally strong, their graphic design is even stronger and this is what really makes Dutch photobooks stand out.

A photographer in Holland knows that when they start making a book, they are no longer on their own terrain, they are on the terrain of designers. Graphic design is strong and photographers also know their limits: there is a general recognition among photographers here that the standard of graphic design is so high that it makes no sense to go about trying to design a book themselves.

Uta Eisenreich, A not B

What recent photobooks have stood out for you in Holland?

I just saw the 2011 catalogue of the Arnhem Mode Biennale by Laurenz Brunner and his artistic direction is amazing. It illustrates all of the strengths of Dutch graphic design. Hunt by Bart Julius Peters is another recent discovery. The editing for this book, in collaboration with Mevis and Van Deursen, is great. Also Fake Flowers in Full Colour by Jaap Scheeren and Hans Gremmen. I also look at a lot of magazines, for example the artistic direction of Fantastic Man is pretty impressive. What interests me in these magazines is the way that they make use of photography, their irreverence for it.

Last year I would say the best book for me was A not B by Uta Eisenreich. The thing that is symbolic for me about this book is that it is representative of the transition from the artist as photographer to the artist as image-maker. This is the direction that photography has taken in Holland in the last couple of years. This is interesting for photography as art: it challenges the historical link between ‘photography’ and the ‘document’ towards non-documentary practices by people that consider themselves to be ‘photographers’. And from a commercial point of view, these image-makers is what the internet needs: more specific online esthetics that image-makers are able to provide.


“If there is one field where the Dutch are the best in the world, it is graphic design… this is what really makes Dutch photobooks stand out.”


The role of design seems to be more important in Dutch photobooks in general than in other countries. It seems to be accepted that design is essential to the success of a photobook, regardless of whether a book is published by a major publisher or self-published.

In France for example, the book designer is thought of as a “maquettiste” (ed. layout guy) rather than as an artist. In Holland there are genuine ‘stars’ in the field of graphic design, the way that you get stars in fashion design or architecture. In Holland, and also in Switzerland, book design is considered to be part of the creative process rather than the production process, which is not the case in France. You can see the importance of design in Holland in the fact that some major museum directors here have been designers like Willem Sandberg at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam or Wim Crouwel at the Boijmans Van Beunigen. In France no graphic designer will ever become the director of the Pompidou Center.

It seems like there aren’t just one or two “super-designers” doing all the photobooks, but that there are many talented designers in Holland. What is the graphic design landscape like?

In Holland there are probably more graphic designers than photographers, there are so many of them that you trip over them in the street if you’re not careful. The country is renowned for having some of the best design schools in the world and a relatively cheap education system, which attracts a lot of foreign talent. It’s not just “Dutch” designers, but there are also a lot of foreigners who have been educated in Holland: the schools here are very international.

Jaap Scheeren and Hans Gremmen, Fake Flowers in Full Colour

Is there such a thing as a Dutch design style? It strikes me that the image in Holland is less ‘sacred’ than elsewhere, there is less of a need to place a photograph in the centre of a page, framed by white space. Designers seem to have the freedom to use the images as ‘raw materials’ when making a photobook.

Dutch culture has a specific “distrust” towards images because of Protestantism and the iconoclasm (ed. destruction of religious images) of the reformation in the sixteenth century. Strangely, although portrait photography is very strong in Holland, most of the photobooks don’t feature images on the cover. This is very striking: when you buy a Dutch photobook, either there is no image on the cover, or it is a portrait from the back, or the text hides the image, etc… Basically, the cover tries to counter the “seduction” of the image… it seems like the image is an impure thing for graphic designers. The love/hate relationship to the image probably gives a special twist to Dutch photobooks in general.

But it’s also true that, in Holland, designers have a lot more control than in other countries: the cover is their cover, their moment. They are given the freedom to digest the photographs as they see fit. This can lead to the question of who the author of a photobook actually is, the photographer or the designer. For some photobooks, the translation of the works in book form is sometimes so strange and so far from the photographer’s work that the book seems to reflect the graphic designer’s creativity more than anything else.

But of course the strength of contemporary Dutch photography must also have a major role to play in the effervescence of the Dutch photobook world?

Sure. Holland has a great photographic tradition. I think the fact that the image is less sacred here gives them the freedom to be more inventive and experimental. Also there are many excellent photography schools in Holland for such a small country. And there is a pluridisciplinarity in art schools: you learn photography next to designers, graphic designers, fashion designers, videos makers etc… Many artists don’t want to stick to one medium, some would even be ashamed to be considered “only” as a photographer. Also, the definition of a ‘photographer’ is a lot more flexible and malleable than elsewhere.  That will keep them on the cutting edge for the next decade. Even in the context of a very conservative political situation, Dutch photography should remain creative for a while.

Amber, the Arnhem Mode Biennale 2011 catalogue

A few years ago, it seemed like we had come to the end of the world with photobooks and now in the last couple of years there has been a huge revival, not only in terms of the number of books being published, but also in terms of the different models of publishing (cheap limited editions, deluxe boxsets, lo-fi self-publishing, etc.)? Do you have a view on why this explosion has come about?

I think there is a reorganisation of the economic model of photobooks. Booksellers are becoming publishers. Designers are becoming booksellers. It’s a bit chaotic at the moment. Book fairs have become the new bookshop. I think this isn’t a passing trend but a fundamental business shift. Just as with galleries, most of their sales happen at art fairs, not by people walking into a gallery on their way home to pick up a photograph.

And so you have launched Offprint, the artist book fair? The first edition fair took place in Paris last year. How did you first come up with the idea?  

Initially I wanted to sell books at Paris Photo but when I saw the prices of booths I gave up on that idea pretty quickly. And then I heard about people selling books in the carpark underneath the Carrousel du Louvre… I thought about selling books from a hotel suite near the fair… In the end I got a few publishers together to sell books and that grew and grew into what ended up being Offprint.


“Today, if you want to be aware of the most interesting new trends in photography you need to be looking at photobooks or magazines, rarely at exhibitions.”


So you started out by selling photobooks?

I started out collecting, after reading Martin Parr and Gerry Badger’s The Photobook: A History, Vol. 1, like a lot of people. But more so than the collecting that this book has generated (against its will), I was very interested in the way that it placed the photobook back at the center of the history of photography.

Then I become a rare book dealer, to make a living out of a passion. But I got tired of that pretty quickly because you never come across new publications, you end up selling the same few books, and get totally irritated to see every discussion starting about “architecture” but ending up about “real estate investment”. Then I came to the contemporary photobook and the artist book. And now I’m launching a publishing house and stopping my bookselling activities.

What are you going to publish?

It’s going to be focused on visual culture—design and photography books—but I also plan to publish theory and philosophy.

Self Publish, Be Happy

Self-publishing has been the big trend of the last year. Do you think it is here to stay or that it is a passing fad?

I think it is here to stay, but I’d say that it is not something people will do consistently throughout their careers. It’s something that is more appropriate when you’re launching your artistic career. Self-publishing is all about getting rid of intermediaries e.g. the publisher, the designer, the distributor.

But designing, printing, publishing, distributing, marketing, selling, shipping… having to do all of this yourself is extremely tiring. Once you have self-published a couple of books you tend to want to get other people to take some of the work off your hands. It’s like moving house… you might do it yourself once or twice, but if you have to do it regularly, after a while you get a company to do it for you. There is some space left for publishers.

There is a balance to be struck with self-publishing. Every time you cut a link out of the chain you are losing expertise and experience—and you are adding work for yourself. When you cut out the publisher for example, you are losing distribution networks, press contacts, marketing, etc. It all depends at the end on what you are willing to do and for how long.


“I am not so much afraid of the disappearance of publications, but of photographers to produce them.”


To finish with an eye on the future, you’ve spoken about a shift from ‘photography’ to image-making and to specific internet-based imagery? How do you think this is going to affect the photobook?

For Offprint, the rise of the internet in both esthetic and commercial terms, raises the question of how to show emerging practices in photography, if online practices are taking over from printed ones? How can you show web activity at a fair? And if innovation is done by photographers, but not only (graphic designers, image makers, video artists), what does it mean to be a ‘photographer’? What is an ‘art book fair for photo publications,’ if there are no ‘photographers’ or ‘publications’ anymore?

On the other hand, the photobook itself has definitively gained an ‘art’ status over the last few decades, alongside artist books. But art-photographers will be swallowed by the art world, by art book fairs, art museums and galleries. I am not so much afraid of the disappearance of publications, but of photographers to produce them. Or the specificity of anything called ‘photography’.


Related posts:

  1. November Photo Madness in Paris
  2. Paris November photo madness round-up
  3. This is not a review: Paris Photo 2011

Conversations about Photobooks: Hans Gremmen


Designer Hans Gremmen is actively involved in creating some of the most cutting-edge Dutch photobooks. I wanted to find out what it is they put into the water that makes those books so different, so I approached him to ask him a few questions about photobook making in The Netherlands. (more)

Jörg Colberg: Dutch photobooks have become well known not only for being very good books, but also for being different from a lot of other books. Can you talk a little bit the history? Why is Dutch photobook design, photobook making different from what you see in many other countries?

Hans Gremmen: I think it’s important to see how graphic design in general was developed in the Netherlands. It has a rich history. In the 1920’s there were the great books by Piet Zwart. Later designers such as Willem Sandberg and Dick Elffers made beautiful photobooks in the 1950’s and 1960’s. They were working with photographers such as Cas Oorthuys, Eva Besnyö and Emmy Andriesse. You could say that it’s a tradition in this country. Photography has been going hand in hand with graphic design for quite a long time.

After that, the bar is already high. When people start making books in a certain way things might snowball. In the Nineties, there were a few graphic designers that really stood out. I’m thinking of, for instance, the early days of Mevis & Van Deursen, but also people like Irma Boom. I really feel that I owe them for the freedom that I have now, simply because people are used to unconventional approaches towards the medium of a book.

If the right people, with the right assignments, make experimental things then all the designers who come after them can benefit from what they achieved.

At art schools in the Netherlands, thinking freely about the medium of a book is really encouraged. I have experience teaching in Germany, and there it’s a bit more conservative.

JC: At Dutch art schools, are photographers actually working directly with designers on books, or are there designers taught to work directly with photographers on photobooks? Is that something that’s happening?

HG: No, even though at some art schools I’m sure they try. Occasionally, I get invited by photography departments to do a workshop about photobooks. Basically, what I try to emphasize is: Try to collaborate with somebody who is on the same level with you in graphic design or in another field.

I think right now most photographers at art schools in the Netherlands try to do it all by themselves, making books and everything. But increasingly, especially in The Hague, they seek collaborations with designers. And not even within the walls of their own art school, but also with professional designers. For instance, the graduation book How Terry likes his Coffee by Florian van Roekel, which is now mentioned in the “Best of 2010” Photo-Eye list, is designed by Syb, who also designed books for Cuny Janssen and Viviane Sassen.

It is great that things can work like this, and in this case it works very well. But I think many art schools have their focus too much on the professional field. Studying is a very valuable time in which you can find your own perspective through isolation. And within that bubble you find collaboration with fellow students. If the study has the focus on the ‘outside world’, students will work according to that professional field; they become followers instead of the new front runners. Also from the perspective of the graphic design student this is more interesting. When I was a student in graphic design I was really eager to find people with content to design for. For me, but I am also a teacher, it makes sense to stimulate contacts like that between students.

JC: Talking about collaborations, one of the books that I wanted to talk about is the book Fake Flowers in Full Colour that you made with Jaap Scheeren. Can you talk a little bit about how that developed? You’re listed as a co-author, and Jaap is a photographer – how did it get developed?

HG: That’s exactly what I meant when I said I advise students to find people that you have a certain chemistry with. One of the first photobooks I made – actually I think the first one – was The Black Hole for Jaap Scheeren and Anouk Kruithof. They asked me to come up with a concept for it. I decided it would be good if half the book was printed in black. So you’d have all the images printed first in full colour, and then half the images would be covered with black ink. Since it’s printing the images would be shimmering through. I remember being very nervous before going to present the idea, because I thought it’s brutal to say “OK, we’re gonna make this book, but you cannot really see one half.” And then both of them were so enthusiastic about the idea! That made me believe in the concept, I started to believe that we could really pull it off, which we did.

After that, Jaap and I started collaborating. We started challenging each other. So if I have an idea about a photo, since I’m not a photographer I just call him and say “Wouldn’t it be great if…” He does the same with books. He often vists my studio, saying things like “You’re really thinking about that paper for that kind of book? I don’t really know, it’s too boring.”

About Fake Flowers in Full Colour: on Jaap’s website there was a project where he had a bouquet of plastic flowers, which he first photographed and then burned, leaving only black sticks. The title was Fake Flowers Gone Bad. I really liked that work. And we were looking for something to do together. We started talking, and we took that work as a starting point. I explained to him how photographs are actually getting printed in books using cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks. He thought it was interesting, that i saw the cyan image as only half a product. Because he really liked this fragmented image, and he was wondering why we didn’t consider it as an autonomous image? That is when we decided to actually create them, photograph them, and print them. That’s how it started, really by challenging each other.

JC: And the result is very striking. It’s a very unusual photobook. When I showed it to a graphic designer, at first she thought there was a mistake in the printing. She pointed out the CMYK dots at the bottom and she asked why there were there. Then she realized why and thought it was really cool what you had actually done. For me, it’s a very compelling way to combine photography with something else, which photographers usually don’t do that much.

HG: I like the reaction that the designer thought it went wrong. I feel very attracted to printed matter than went wrong. Once I made a book about misprinted posters, which I found at a silkscreen printer who makes beautiful posters. He makes even more beautiful misprints. He uses old posters to test the colours, to test the position of a new poster. So you get these really strange combinations. Beautiful objects. But you cannot do anything with them, of course, because they have the wrong information on them, dates for separate events etc.

I compiled a book, it’s called Serendipity. Out of a stack of misprinted posters one meter (three feet) high I selected 150. Then I reproduced them in a book.

JC: Here’s a very simple question – What actually is a good photobook? What makes a good photobook? What kind of books do you like?

HG: I saw the question coming, so I already thought about it. At first I thought printing is really important, or the paper, things like that. But then I thought “Oh, that book is really badly printed, but it’s very good actually.” So there always was a counter example for whatever I thought was very important.

In the end, I think the most important thing is that everything that makes a book, the choice of paper, the size, the way it’s bound, the quality of the printing, the scans… everything should always be tailored to the book. So for example, if it’s not necessary to have the book bound then don’t do it. All these decisions, all these choices (type, cover material, …) – in the end they should be fitting for the photographs or the story that is told with the photographs.

Sometimes, it’s not needed to think too much outside of the box, to make a “normal” book can be perfect. Sometimes, reaching a sort of symbiosis between photography and design can lift the work.

Take the book Elasticity by Aglaia Konrad, an artist working a lot with photography. Mevis & Van Deursen designed the book for her. In that case, the photography is already very good. The design also is, but the combination makes the book even better. It’s perfectly bound, so it opens very well. For images across the gutter you can see everything. It’s on a matte paper, well printed. It has a sort of roughness in it. It is somehow unconventional, but it’s also very clear that it’s a good book. The design is bold and direct, but it’s not getting between the photographs and the viewer. That’s a bit tricky, to make sure the design does not overwhelm the book. Everything has to fit in the end.

JC: A book that you presented in The Hague at the Book Case Study workshop was Libero by Petra Stavast. The book is slightly more conventional. Can you talk a little bit about your design choices there, why you made certain decisions? For example, why the wrapping that you have to take apart, and you can’t really put it back together unless you’re really neat?

HG: The wrapping was the last decision we made. The book was already printed or at the printer, so all the design decisions had already been made. On the cover, the image is in black and white. I had tried to find a way to have a colour image on the cover, but because we used a silkscreen technique it had a very rough raster. We could have done colour but then the photo becomes very obscure, looking very strange. It would end up being about the raster and not about the image. So that was not the option.

But we wanted to include a colour image. Then I thought of wrapping paper. We tried it with one book, and we immediately had the problem that you tear it apart. So you have to make a decision, do you want to keep it, or do you want to throw it away? Petra was very enthusiastic about that. Because she saw this at a perfect metaphor for the problem of memory, of family history. You either cherish it and tell it to others, to conserve it, or you can also forget it and then it will simply disappear. Besides that the physical aspect of unwrapping also refers to decay of the image. If you unwrap the paper, the image will loose quality in front of your eyes.

The rest of the book I tried to make like a regular, “normal” book, and its size was picked simply because it’s an economical size. Of course, it also had something to do with budget. We couldn’t make it bigger. But even with an unlimited budget we maybe would have ended up with the same size, because it really works. The images are quite large, but not too large, and it is a personal object. You can take it with you, it’s not like a coffee-table book. In size, it’s in between a novel and a photobook. That was our goal.

JC: Just one final thing I wanted to ask you about, which is related to something you said earlier, that the design of a book has to work together with the photography. There is a lot of talk about on-demand books. A lot of people are excited about it. But it seems the big problem is that everything is confined to very narrow selections of paper and templates. In principle there is a lot of promise for photographers who can get their own photobooks printed. But on the other side there’s the problem that all the books might end up looking the same. What are your thoughts?

HG: What I like about making a book is that it’s really time consuming. For instance, we worked on Libero for over a year. Of course not constantly, the project might rest for a week, and then you pick it back up and edit a few more pages. Another aspect is funding. I’m sometimes involved in getting the funding in order, or in suggesting ways of funding, to find a way a book can be produced. That also takes a lot of time.

Somehow I really like that these aspects of bookmaking take time. That’s because you think about what you are doing, and you often reconsider it. A photographer sometimes has to decide whether to go on a Summer vacation or to to save the money, to put it in the book, for instance. This commitment is important. There should be some risk in making a book, with print on demand nobody has to take a risk. Which makes it very random. What is the necessity of getting it there if nobody wants to invest in it?

With many books made through Blurb or Lulu I have the feeling that they are made too quickly, that somebody has an idea and instantly makes a virtual book. A week later, you can already order the book. Sometimes, that works. But often I think it’s maybe just lazy. So you don’t have to deal with the hassle of trying to find a publisher, the funding, a designer, or whatever. In that case, it’s really a pity, because you lower the bar, quality-wise.

I don’t want to sound like an old man, but with all the new media and presenting things on websites before they are actually finished… I don’t get that. Photobooks, or photographs are not a accumulation of pixels or megabites. They are real objects. As long as they are just megabites, they do not exist. They will pop up, and vanish just as quickly.

However, there are interesting things happening with print on demand. For instance with the Artists’ Books Cooperative (ABC), they are investigating the medium of photography through print on demand. And I think there could be a good market for on-demand, when it comes to re-printing books. There are some photobooks that I have really been looking for a while, but they’re not available any longer. And I often think that if someone had a pdf, then I could get my own copy using on-demand printing. Just to leave through the books, and to read the texts. Like a modern library. But that’s another issue.

The last detail about printing on demand is that the question if the book will be ‘printed’ is no longer in the hands of the maker, but of the buyer. That is a very questionable position for the maker. The ball is in the wrong corner. What would this construction mean for a sculptor or a painter? He simply has to invest in a canvas, brushes and paint, before he can work. He can’t produce a virtual sketch and say “If you like it I will really paint it. But first you have to pay for the canvas and paint.” Paint on demand. That you wouldn’t accept. It’s strange that you would accept it for photobooks.

Those interested in some of the publications presented here can go directly to the website of Fw:, “an independent organisation that initiates projects, publications, exhibitions, lectures and gatherings between photographers, writers and curators.”