I wrote about Romka magazine over on the eyecurious Tumblr some time ago, but I will confess to never having picked up a paper copy before, so the latest issue (#7) is the first I have been able to flick through. The conceit is a simple one, “favorite pictures and the stories that lie behind them” by pros and amateurs alike. No book reviews, no interviews, no ads… no excess fat. The result is a kind of crowd-sourced collective photo-album, which makes it sound terrible when it is really quite good. Romka simply does what it says on the tin: it presents a series of single images by photographers (that might be Roger Ballen or it might be Sachi “the builder who lives in a pink house in New Orleans”), each accompanied by a short text explaining what that image means to them. It is a very simple recipe, and like many simple recipes it is hard to get right, but when it works it is rather delicious. Although it follows a fairly strict formula it doesn’t feel formulaic because of its democratic, all-inclusive approach to images and because it helps to reveal some of the myriad reasons why photographs matter so much to people. This simple formula also makes it refreshingly different to most other photography magazines out there.
I have done a lot of wondering (to myself and sometimes out loud) about whether the photo album has become irrelevant today given the changes in the way that we make and look at photographs… Romka makes me think that there is life in it yet.
Deep Fried. 1997, C-print, 50.8cm x 61cm. carrera de fotografia . Chino Otsuka. Image courtesy of Huis Marseille.
At age 10, Japanese-born Chino Otsuka was sent away to a progressive private boarding school in Suffolk, England. For her first two years at the school, she was allowed to do nothing. Directory Submission . Then, following her own interests, she started to pursue education with an unrelenting intensity. A book she wrote, at age 15, about her culture-shock and quest for personal identity, made her an instant hero and celebrity back home in Japan. (Twenty years later, the book is still a “must read” for many young Japanese students.) She went on to pursue photography at the Royal Academy of Art, and began a life-long career exploring ideas of identity, memory, and mental time travel, through photography and video and writing.
A brilliant retrospective of her work fills the entire photography museum at Huis Marseille in Amsterdam. And an equally inspiring photobook has just been published: Photo Album by Chino Otsuka.
From rallies and revolutions to weddings and celebrations, TIME has photographed all the big news events of the year. Now we want to know if we photographed you.
We’re asking readers to head over to a dedicated photo album on TIME’s Facebook page and tag themselves if they appear in these pictures—some of our favorites from 2011. This is all part of a new ongoing project from TIME, one that we hope tells the story behind our iconic photography from the people who were there.
To participate, visit TIME’s Facebook album and flip through the images. We’ve provided dates and locations on each picture to ease the search, but we’d also love your help getting the word out about the project. Please considering sharing this story with friends and family on your favorite social networks.