Artists Focus on Photo Books; Bookstores Are Quickly Becoming a Thing of the Past as Digital and Audio Books Have Gained Swift Ground. except for One Small Niche, the Photo Book. [Derived Headline]

By Shaw, Kurt | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 19, 2016 | Go to article overview

Artists Focus on Photo Books; Bookstores Are Quickly Becoming a Thing of the Past as Digital and Audio Books Have Gained Swift Ground. except for One Small Niche, the Photo Book. [Derived Headline]


Shaw, Kurt, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Bookstores are quickly becoming a thing of the past as digital and audio books have gained swift ground. Except for one small niche, the photo book.

In an age where your family photos can be made into a book with a few clicks of a mouse and a credit card number, the photo book itself, especially in the creative hands of artists and fine-art photographers, has risen to an art form.

So it is that last weekend, hundreds of art aficionados and photography buffs made their way to Silver Eye Center for Photography on the South Side for the 2015 Silver Eye Book Fair.

The fair featured 10 book publishers and the artists' works they have published, all of whom are making beautiful, exciting and utterly fascinating books.

Artists and vendors at this year's fair included Bo-Books, Conveyor Arts, Flash Powder Projects, Gratuitous Type, Jim Reed, Light Work, Mystery Spot, Paul Nelson, Silas Finch, Spaces Corners, TIS Books and Vice Verso.

Silver Eye also offered up a selection of books from its collection, as well as signed and editioned prints from its new series "Silver Eye Editions."

The publishers shared exhibit-quality prints for the current display, "Golden Hour: Thoughts on the Contemporary Photo Book," showing through Jan. 16.

The title of the exhibit is telling, says David Oresick, Silver Eye's executive director. "What makes this the golden age of the photo book is that so many talented artists are considering the book as the end of the process without an eye toward a traditional exhibition."

Oresick says this lets the artists focus completely on making the book -- editing, sequencing, selecting paper, binding and more. In other words, creating a thoughtful, well-considered finished art object.

"Great photo books feel complete, thoughtful and like a world unto themselves, and artists understand this," Oresick says. "Certainly, artists will show images from their books in galleries, but that's not always the goal and it doesn't always translate."

Nevertheless, "Golden Hour" features some fabulous images from recent or upcoming publications, experimental installations, and thoughtful and evocative sequences that add a new perspective to existing book-based projects.

Today, various competitions now award these self-publishing efforts. There's the Iberoamerican Photobook Prize, which awards a body of work that isn't a book but gives the opportunity for it to become a book. London-based MACK Books has a First Book Award. There's the Dummy Award at Fotobookfestival Kassel. And the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation celebrates the book's contribution to the evolving narrative of photography every year with its PhotoBook Awards.

Today, making a book is easier and more affordable than ever. Digital printing through groups such as Conveyor Arts, Paper Chase Press and Editions One allow for smaller runs, which are easier to manage and produce relatively cheaply. And with bookmaking being digitally driven, just like other aspects of photography, it's a comfortable medium for photographers to work with. …

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