Saturday, August 22, 2020

Light reading

In recent months, I've written in appreciation of Teju Cole's comments about the aesthetic pleasure that a photobook can give as a material object, but also in praise of Cafe Royal Books, the publisher of affordable, unfussy booklets whose modus operandi is simply "getting the work seen".

For Grant Scott of United Nations Of Photography, "it's not the weight of the book, but the weight of the work that counts". Lauding Another Place Press as well as Cafe Royal, he warns against favouring "the bloated pretension of size and weight over narrative and content". There's no substitute for careful and selective editing, he suggests, and no manner of flashy design, typography or materials can disguise it.

In this view, Cole isn't necessarily wrong - but I take Scott's point that many photographers do their work a disservice by becoming obsessed and intoxicated by the perceived need to create a beautiful artefact (and paying for the privilege) rather than more sensibly giving priority to finding quick, cheap and effective means of distributing it.

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