New Photobook & Sundry Upcoming Events

A selection of books made since about 2004 to 2022
A selection of books made since about 2004 to 2022

I am in the end stages of a new photobook. It’s titled Not Landscape. I am hoping the print run of 20 copies will be here in time for the photo 2022 weekend photobook fair 21st and 22nd of May. This book came together relatively quickly. After discovering a website of obscure avant garde art UbuWeb, I watched a rare video by John Baldessari, titled “I shall not make any more boring art”. Baldessari had also made a series of photographs in the 70s that poked fun at the “rules” of photography, seen here on his website. Also here.

Concurrently I had been mulling over how I made an earlier book using Blurb. ‘What’s the ugliest part of your body?’. When making it. I had decided to compromise on its layout and not crop the images resulting in a book that few people handled correctly as it was landscape orientation. As a consequence it had lots of wasted white space. I feel this didn’t add anything to the idea. This time I decided that I would print full bleed, and use pictures that were portrait in orientation. I also wanted to add some text to engage the reader. So after perusing my library and searching the internet I found of series of snippets of text and quotes that posed pointed questions about landscape, landscape art, and landscape photography. With these two ideas in mind I collated as many images as I could that were portrait in format, ie Not Landscape, the book’s title, printed out a set of them. Then started editing them into a book.

A spread from the first draft of my 2022 book, Not Landscape.
A spread from the first draft of my 2022 book, Not Landscape.
A spread from the first draft of my 2022 book, Not Landscape.
A spread from the first draft of my 2022 book, Not Landscape.

I have some copies of my ‘What’s the ugliest part of your body?’ left. These are $15.00 each, and after making them now consider it unlikely I will make a second edition.

The cover of my 2017 book, What's the ugliest part of your body?
The cover of my 2017 book, What’s the ugliest part of your body?

I have one copy of my book Contact for sale as well.

Contact my Pandemic inspired photobook from 2020/2021
Contact my Pandemic inspired photobook from 2020/2021

So pop on down to the Melbourne Art Book Fair this weekend 17th to the 20th of March, to purchase a copy of either ‘What’s the ugliest part of your body?’ or Contact. Hopefully Not Landscape will be on offer as well. Our stand is Melbourne Photobook Collective.

Alternatively the Photo 2020 is running a photobook weekend there will be some of my books there too, 21st May [12 to 7pm] and 22nd May [12 to 4pm]  at PSC 37-47 Thistlethwaite St, South Melbourne.

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On the cusp

As we reach the end of summer here in Australia, I’ve been exploiting the  the effects of La Niña. With the Melbourne Art Book Fair approaching rapidly, I was hesitant to head out to make pictures but this Friday the weather was just right, so I exploited that and made pictures for a couple of hours.

google earth view of the are explored
google earth view of the are explored

I initially set out to make some pictures as teaching aids, but as I was on a bridge near the ring road, I decided to wander towards an aspect of the Maribrynong river that has always intrigued me.

I started under the EG Whitten bridge. A sad spot in so many ways. So much rubbish just dumped. I am unsure about the status of the land under the bridge as well. I know that the edges of rivers up to the high tide mark are considered crown land, but this land is well above that and also bordered by some private land. The western side of the river seems mostly private. This has been heavily impacted by trail bikes and other uses. This is the part I found most interesting. As the bike riders reshape the topography.

An early influence for me as a student of photography was Joe Deal’s work, The Fault Zone Portfolio, a group of 19 silver gelatin prints that documented suburban life along the San Andreas Fault Line in Southern California. This place reminds me of that except the forces at play are much more human in scale.

I only took digital equipment with me on this occasion. Given what I saw I’m sure a return visit is in order with at least my Hasselblad. It would be no mean feat to cary this equipment in, but more than worth it under the right lighting conditions.

Maribrynong River from the EJ Whitten Bridge
Maribrynong River from the EJ Whitten Bridge in 2019
Rubbish, and sticker art under the EJ Whitten Bridge
Rubbish, and sticker art under the EJ Whitten Bridge
Dirt Bike tracks litter the area
Dirt Bike tracks litter the area
Landfill to the left and natural landscape to the right
Landfill to the left and natural landscape to the right

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Currently Reading?

I just finished  reading a book by Stephen Shore, titled, ‘Stephen Shore Modern instances The Craft of Photography A Memoir

Published by Mack books in 2022.  As soon as I saw the flip though on the Mack Book website I knew I had to have the book. Once it arrived, and very quickly I might add, I barely put it down.

I bought the book because I could tell in the flip through that Shore was going to refer back to all kinds of art from many parts of history. Indeed there are some real gems cited in the book. From Frederick Sommer to Eugene Atget , Bob Dylan to William Blake, Lorraine to Turner. The list is as deep as it is wide, he refers to poetry, music, theatre, film, architecture. Reading it has been a humbling experience, his advice is thoughtful, thought provoking and practical.

This is my favourite excerpt from page 176:-

“During dinner I saw Ansel drink six tall glasses of straight vodka. Toward the end of the evening, he said to me, “I had a creative hot streak in the ‘40s and since then I’ve been potboiling” I don’t remember the context of this, but I do remember that he said it drily, like a photographer observing something.”

If you are a beginning student or an accomplished photographer this book will be a useful and welcoming addition to your library.

I particularly like the production values of the book. I feel it is entirely within keeping of Shore’s temperament. The book has weight and presence that is enjoyable, the pages easy to turn and the reproductions surprisingly good on the paper stock used.

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A Pound of Pictures, by Alec Soth

Alec Soth: A Pound of Pictures from Fraenkel Gallery on Vimeo.

In a video made in connection with A Pound of Pictures, his book from MACK and accompanying exhibition, Alec Soth talks about his process for working on the series. Soth explores “the different ways in which photographs live in the world,” as objects that reflect “the desire to memorialize life.” Soth also describes his approach to deciding what to photograph, by paying attention to what attracts him to certain scenes and subjects. Learn more: https://fraenkelgallery.com/exhibitions/alec-soth-a-pound-of-pictures

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