Photobook: more thinking about products


So I’ve been thinking about products – how we exhibit things – and while I look at lots of photobooks I thought a more systematic review might help me decide my own approach. Accordingly I purchased The Photobook: A history Volume III by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger.

Just looking at the large thick tome – for this is a reference book – could put me off and this feeling was reinforced by the rather obscure categorisation headings.

  • Progress Reports: The Flourishing of the Propaganda Photobook
  • Documents of Anger and Sadness: Protests and the Photobook
  • The Kids Are Alright: Desire and the Post-war Photobook
  • Monuments to Our Moment: Modern Life and the Photobook (society)
  • From There to Here: The Photobook and Place
  • Killing Fields: Conflict and The Photobook
  • Looking At Ourselves: The Photobook and Identity
  • Momenti Mori: The Photobook and Memory
  • Cannibalizing Photography: Representing and Representing the Medium (the medium itself)

But all was made much clearer with the reading of the Preface, written by Martin Parr.

Vitrine in exhibitions

  • Art objects in themselves with prices for rarer books escalating

“It is as if the digital distribution of so many photographs has made people appreciate more the actual printed page” (M Parr) (p4)

  • Afronauts – “a single book to launch a whole career”
  • The photo magazine has been squeezed but the photobook has flourished
  • This volume acts as a sort of unofficial revisionist history with lost books given new breath and established works reappraised

Even though the preface barely covered two pages it was packed with a lot. The distinction of the photobook as an art object in of itself, and indeed its flourishing in this internet age, gave the hint not only of the photobook’s nature but the growing market around it. So now let me learn something of its history.

Parr, M., and Badger, G. (2014) The Photobook: A history Volume III, Published by Phaidon


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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1 Response to Photobook: more thinking about products

  1. Tanya says:

    I LOVE these books and the energy they must have for photography to put them together!

    Liked by 1 person

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