The Photobook: A History

What is my name? -- by Joe Reifer

What is my name? — by Joe Reifer

I was thinking about taking the Photographic Book Publishing workshop taught by Darius Himes this Summer, but the timing isn’t going to work out. Darius has an interesting blog, which lead me to his article Who Cares About Books? I’d read another article by Darius in photo-eye magazine that referenced Martin Parr and Gerry Badger’s The Photobook: A History, Vol. 1. Darius again speaks glowingly of The Photobook in his recent article. So I went down to my local library and checked it out.

Two things. Thank you Darius! And why didn’t someone tell me about this book before? The Photobook is a veritable Rosetta Stone of photography book designs. I can’t imagine making my own photo book without having read it. I’m going to pick up The Photobook: A History, Vol. 2 next, and then continue on to the Book of 101 Books, The: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century if I can find a copy.

Photo Books: How Many Images?

I’ve been thinking about putting together a self published night photography book to use as a portfolio and to sell in conjunction with a print offer. One important question that I’ve struggled with is how many images are ideal for a fine art photography book? 20 to 30 prints seems right for a portfolio, and 50-60 images sounded like a good number for a book.

To stimulate some more thinking on the matter, I pulled 10 great photography books from the shelf, and took some notes. I was also interested in the layout, written material, and physical dimensions. But the main purpose was to pick 10 photo books I really dig, and see how many images are included:

  1. Open Range and Parking Lots / Virgil Hancock III. About 53 photos. Author preface. Gregory McNamee essay interspersed with images. 8.5×10.5″
  2. Suburbia / Bill Owens. About 130 photos. Most on facing pages. 1 page intro only. 10.25″ square
  3. Lost America / Troy Paiva. About 125 photos. Most on facing pages. Stan Ridgway forward, author essays interspersed in chapters. 9″ square
  4. Slide Show / Helen Levitt. About 109 photos. Most on facing pages. No captions. Short 1 page forward by John Szarkowski. 9.5×9.0″
  5. The Americans / Robert Frank. About 86 photos. Intro by Jack Kerouac. Captions at end. 9.5×8.5″
  6. Bravo 20 / Richard Misrach. About 35 photos. First 50 pages are the story written by Myriam Weisang Misrach. Mix of single and facing pages. 9×12″
  7. Occupied Territory / Lynne Cohen. About 75 photos. Mostly facing pages. Forward and short essay, and then images. 9×11.5″
  8. American Prospects / Joel Sternfeld. About 53 photos. Short essays at beginning and end. 10×12″
  9. Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains / Steve Fitch. About 70 photos. Author essay plus 2 additional essays. Captions at end. 8.5×10.5″
  10. William Eggleston’s Guide. About 48 photos. John Szarkowski essay. Single images with location on facing page. 9.25″ square

Want to help with the research? Go to your bookshelves, pull out one of your favorites, and let me know the title and how many images are included. Thanks!

Updated: Photography Book Sale

My bookshelves are overflowing so I’m having a sale — some books are priced quite attractively, but here’s the catch — I don’t want to sell individual books — packing and shipping 20 separate orders is a hassle — so: Orders shipped by mail must contain 3 or more books.

If you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area, I will entertain the idea of hauling the books down to the Albatross Pub in Berkeley, where you can peruse them and pay in beer. Sound dangerous?

Shipping will be at actual cost. You can pay via Paypal, money order, or beer. You can post a comment, or send me an email. I reserve the right to sell to whomever offers a friendly, no nonsense transaction. Whatever doesn’t sell by 4/12 will be traded in at my local bookshop on 4/13. Here’s the list:

Art — All 4 books for $40, or a 750ml bottle of Laphroaig 10 year

  1. Geoffrey Biddle — Alphabet City — minor edge wear but clean pages and tight binding — out of print — $20 ($45 and up on Amazon)
  2. Camilo Jose Vergara — Subway Memories — light thumb sized mark on front cover and very minor edge wear, otherwise excellent — $5
  3. Photography, a Facet of Modernism: Photographs from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art — good — $5
  4. Daniel and Geo Fuchs — ToyGiants — mint- — $15 ($30 and up on Amazon)

Business — Both books for $10, or a 6-pack of Hoegaarden

  1. Tad Crawford — Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer — excellent — $5
  2. Richard Weisgrau — The Real Business of Photography — excellent — $10

Photoshop — All 3 books for $10, or a 750ml bottle of Chimay Grand Reserve (blue)

  1. Martin Evening — Adobe Photoshop CS for Photographers — excellent w/CD — $5
  2. Kevin Ames — Adobe Photoshop CS: The Art of Photographing Women — excellent — $5
  3. Scott Kelby — The Adobe Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers — excellent — $5

Portrait Lighting – All 3 for $25, or a 750ml bottle of Maker’s Mark

  1. Steve Bavister — Lighting for Portrait: Photography — excellent — $10
  2. Jeff Smith — Posing for Portrait Photography: A Head-to-Toe Guide — excellent– $10
  3. Michael Grecco — Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Celebrity and Editorial Photography — excellent — $10

Photography News: Suburban World, Muybridge, Atomic Ruins, Whiskey Robber

Turning our backs -- by Joe Reifer

Turning our backs — by Joe Reifer