Photographers who have had books published by Gerhard Steidl tell PDN that the process is an unforgettable creative journey with a master printer who spares almost no expense to realize their visions. “Being there in Steidlville is almost a religious experience,” says photographer Christopher Morris, who had a second book published by Steidl last year. “You don’t want it to end.” No wonder Steidl gets 1,200 unsolicited book proposals every year. Gerhard Steidl reviews every one of them, and publishes only the rare few that challenge him politically or intellectually, or that surprise him in some way, as he explains in a profile that is now available at PDNOnline. For those interested in submitting book proposals, one option is to send e-mail directly to email@example.com with the word “Submission” in the subject line. Steidl says it doesn’t matter whether he receives submissions in analog or digital format, but Morris advises, “Definitely do not send anything in digital format. He’s a man who likes to touch things, and look at paper. Scotch tape and photographs on paper is what you need to send him.” For hard copy submissions, the address is: Gerhard Steidl – Druckerei & Verlag GmbH & Co. OHG, Düstere Straße 4 – D-37073 Göttingen, Germany.
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Fed Up with Self-Serving Noise from Photo Bloggers, Zack Arias Started a Blog, Then Published a Book in His Spare Time
Photographer Zack Arias is the accidental “Dear Abby” of the photo industry. He started a Tumblr blog last year called Photography Q&A, inviting readers to “ask me anything about photography.” He has since fielded more than 1,000 “Hi Zack” e-mails with questions about gear, technique, art and creativity, and business.
The blog is popular not only for the information Arias provides, but because of his honesty, good humor, and horse sense. He often recounts his own mistakes to instruct and encourage his readers, and isn’t afraid to cajole them, or challenge the industry’s conventional wisdom and egos.
Arias, who is also a popular workshop instructor, recently compiled some of the blog’s best installments into a book called Photography Q&A: Real Questions. Real Answers, published by New Riders. An excerpt of the book appears in the August issue of PDN, and is now available on our web site. We asked Arias how his blog got started, and he replied with his usual candor.
“It was because I got pissed off at another photographer [who] came out with a web site that was this ‘Top Ten Steps’–like a system to help get you started becoming a photographer. There was just a lot of bad information in it. A lot of people were in an uproar. I was staying out of the fray, but people kept asking me, ‘Zack, what do you think of it?’
“Finally I said, ‘The hell with it. Here’s what I think of it: I think it’s a bunch of trash, and nobody should listen to it for these reasons.’ Then I was in the fray, and then I was pissed off, and it was just one of those things: OK, you’re going to do a top ten? I’m going to do a top 100–no, I’m going to do a top 1000. There’s a lot of noise in our industry right now. There’s a lot of top ten lists, and ‘get this going quick’ [schemes] and people just walking all over the craft and people not preaching that you have to be patient, you have to work hard, and this is going to take a long time and it’s not easy. If you think it’s just about taking pictures, you’re missing the other 90 percent of what it means to be a professional photographer. And I wanted to create something that had more signal, and wasn’t noise, and wasn’t just an affiliate link aggregator, like hey, we’re going to bring a lot of people to our blog, and hope they click on our links so we can monetize it.
“So it [the blog] started because I wanted to create something that had a more honest look [at the profession] than have a shiny, happy infomercial that was getting a lot of traction.”
Meanwhile, Arias is taking a break from teaching workshops, but that’s another story.
If you’re riding on the New York City subway and happen to notice photo books and ‘zines replacing iPads or free newspapers in the hands of your fellow passengers, this may be why: This past Saturday a subway newsstand at the Metropolitan Avenue subway station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, opened as a temporary shop featuring independent photography and art books produced by a handful of well-respected small publishers.
The shop will be open through July 20th, from 9am-8pm on weekdays and 12pm-5pm on weekends, which is probably a good idea given the level of pawing the books would be subjected to by the Williamsburg weekend night crowd. Participating publishers, artists and bookstores include:
Desert Island books
Pau Wau Publications
Toilet Paper Magazine
Dan Murphy Zines
The shop also has a selection of magazines put together by McNally Jackson bookstore in Manhattan, and a selection of music from Co-Op 87 record store in Brooklyn.
The Newsstand is accessible by both L and G subway lines.
Tonight at the New York Public Library, photography educator and historian Deborah Willis will discuss Leonard Freed‘s photographs of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Joining Willis on the panel will be photographers Eli Reed and Jamel Shabazz, scholar Paul M. Farber, writer Michael Eric Dyson, and Freed’s widow, Brigitte Freed. The event begins at 6pm.
The Chris Hondros Fund, which supports photojournalism with fellowships and other programs, is holding a benefit online print auction through June 7. Work by Slim Aarons, James Balog, Al Bello, Andrea Bruce, Robert Capa, Ernst Haas, Michael Kamber, Ed Ou, Joao Silva and many other photographers is for sale.
Free seminars at Review Santa Fe start this Friday with “The Business of Photography.” On Saturday a panel of photographers will discuss “New Methods For Engaging Audiences,” and on Sunday Guggenheim Fellow John Gossage will lecture on “Contemporary Photographic Practice.” For more public events check out the Review Santa Fe event schedule.
Italian photographic education organization Cesura is running a travel workshop in Cairo in November. Led by Gabriele Micalizzi, who covered the Egyptian revolution, workshop participants will also have the option of a two-day supplemental workshop with photographer Moises Saman.
Kevin Miller received The New Orleans Photo Alliance‘s 2013 Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography Grant for his project on the Panama Canal expansion. (more…)
Exhibitions and Other Happenings:
TOMORROW! Columbia College Chicago is hosting an informal portfolio review for their graduating photography students from 5-8pm tomorrow, May 16. Creative professionals are invited to go check out the work of this group of young photographers. There will be food and drink and conversations about photography. http://www.colum.edu/industryevents/events/photography-review.php
The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is holding their fourth annual Book Fair. Participants include MACK Books, Printed Matter, Vox Populi, Light Work and Houseboat Press, among many others. It’s a fair of photo books. Nuff said.
An exhibition of the work of 50 photographers selected as finalists in the 2013 Critical Mass competition opens this Friday at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery in Atlanta. The exhibition is curated by W.M. Hunt. http://www.jenniferschwartzgallery.com/critical-mass-top-50-exhibition/
This is very cool: United Photo Industries and New York Waterway’s East River Ferry people are partnering to exhibit photographs on weekday ferries throughout the summer. The project kicked off this week, and it will include water-related photography by Joni Sternbach, Stephen Mallon, David Doubilet, Andreas Franke, Corey Arnold and Eric Prinvault. http://unitedphotoindustries.com/special-projects/drawn-to-water/ (more…)
The James Beard Foundation announced its Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards winners in New York City on May 3. Katie Quinn Davies, a commercial photographer based in Sydney, Australia, won the Photography award in the book category for What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits & Pieces. The cookbook is based on her website, WhatKatieAte.com, for which Davies develops and prepares recipes that she later styles, photographs and posts online.
The Visual Storytelling award, which recognizes excellence in photography, photojournalism and graphic design, was given to Gather Journal’s Creative Director Michele Outland and Editor Fiorella Valdesolo. Gather is a bi-annual publication that focuses on all aspects of food—from recipes and cooking to dinner parties and unique culinary experiences. The magazine’s winning submission included two sections from the Summer 2012 issue, Starters and Desserts, as well as the article “Smoke & Ash” from the Fall/Winter 2012 issue, and featured photography by Grant Cornett, Joseph De Leo, and Gentl and Hyers.
The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit based in New York City that organizes lectures, workshops, events, and other educational initiatives around the country to promote the exploration of American culinary history and culture. For the past 23 years, the organization has hosted the James Beard Foundation Awards to “recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields and [who] continue to emphasize the Foundation’s mission: to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity,” according to its website.
To see the complete list of winners, visit www.jamesbeard.org/awards.
Related Articles from the PDN Archive:
Jeff Scott Wins 2012 James Beard Award for Photography
Fine-art photographer Jeff Scott won the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award in the Photography category for Notes From a Kitchen: A Journey Inside Culinary Obsession.
Cookbooks Come Out of the Kitchen
A slate of new cookbooks are using extraordinary photography to entice consumers (PDN subscribers).
How I Got That Shot: Fooling a Leica Rangefinder
Portrait and still-life photographer Grant Cornett discusses his technique of using a flash outside while shooting with a Leica.
American photographer Paul Salveson has won the 2013 First Book Award for his project “Between the Shell,” a series of color images made through creative observation and arrangement of objects close at hand. The award, announced last week, is co-administered by MACK books and Britain’s National Media Museum. They will publish Salveson’s book later this year.
The judges for the award were Michael Mack (MACK), Polly Fleury (Wilson Centre for Photography London), Liz Jobey (FT Weekend Magazine), Greg Hobson (National Media Museum) and photographer Clare Strand.
Salveson’s work was selected from more than 100 submissions.
The First Book Award, now in its second year, is open to photographers who have not previously released a book project with a publisher. However self-published and print-on-demand projects do not disqualify a photographer.
In order to be considered for the award, photographers must be nominated by one of an international group of nominators. The names of this year’s nominators were not released.
Last week at the Portland Art Museum as part of the 2013 Photolucida festivities, Alec Soth gave a lecture titled “From Here to There: Searching for Narrative in Photography.” The talk could have been titled “Searching for Narrative in Photography Lectures,” because Soth mostly allowed the audience to lead the way with questions, which he responded to with the aid of a number of prepared slideshows. The evening was free-form, entertaining and a bit wandering, which made sense given that Soth emphasized that wandering and taking pictures without a set goal in mind has produced some of his most important bodies of work. But more on that later.
Soth started on a down note, sharing a quote from Robert Frank—“There are too many images, too many cameras now. We’re all being watched. It gets sillier and sillier. As if all action is meaningful. Nothing is really all that special. It’s just life. If all moments are recorded, then nothing is beautiful and maybe photography isn’t an art any more. Maybe it never was.” He also showed a photograph of an installation by Erik Kessels: a pile of prints made from all of the images uploaded to Flickr in a 24-hour period.
Soth described the perspectives offered by the Frank quote and Kessels’ installation as “bleak.” But, he said, the “way out of this [bleak situation for photographers] is storytelling.” (more…)
Since the 1990s, Magnum photographer Thomas Dworzak has explored the volatile republics of the Northern Caucasus. It’s a region that’s now in the news because alleged Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had ties there, but Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia and other republics of the Caucasus have long been a source of curiosity and geopolitical ambitions, especially in Russia.
In his 2010 book, Kavkas, Dworzak, who is now based in Georgia, wrote: “Having discovered the importance of the ‘Caucasus Experience’ in 19th century romantic Russian literature, I finally put together a book with all the images from my years spent in the Caucasus.” Kavkas includes images Dworzak took while covering the conflicts in Chechnya and Abkhazia and their aftermath, as well as scenes from Dagestan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ossetia.
In the book’s introduction, Dworzak called Kavkas “a toast to the Caucasus.” Magnum in Motion made a multimedia slide show of some of the images from the book. They appear on screen as in the book, interspersed with text from writers including Tolstoy, Lermontov and Pushkin.
While many of Dworzak’s images are poetic and allusive, and compliment the writers’ rhapsodic prose, at other times they make a sharp contrast, showing the violence and hardship the region has seen in recent years.
Notable Photo Books 2010 (review of Kavkas, published by Schilt)
(For PDN subscribers only.)
As investigations into the alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev focus on their connection to Chechnya and to the region of Dagestan, where Tamerlan spent time in January 2012, we’re once again looking at photographic studies of the North Caucusus. This volatile and troubled region may be little known to many Americans, but it’s been the subject of in-depth examination by photographers including Stanley Greene, Thomas Dworzak and Davide Monteleone. They have explored not only the violence in the region, but its culture, rituals and legacy of ethnic and political tensions.
Talking about his 2012 book Red Thistle, which explores life in the Northern Caucusus, David Monteleone told PDN in 2012 that he wanted to learn more about the people in the region than he could learn from media reports about terrorist attacks and human rights abuses. The book is a collection of images he took over several years in the republics around Chechnya, including Dagestan, Abkhazia (the Georgian Republic), Ingushetia, Karachay–Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia and the disputed territory of South Ossetia.
“For every work that I do, I want to show the daily life of people,” Monteleone told PDN. “Then of course I try to get a little bit deeper and try to find my own vision, but it’s my curiosity first of all.”
People he met in the region who were hospitable and welcoming, he says, but “the authorities were not.” Many of his images were shot indoors, conveying the constraints he experienced. “You have this wild, big [landscape], and at the same time the people are sort of afraid of moving, they cannot reach some places. A lot of areas are closed because of antiterrorist operations, you cannot go to the mountains because it’s forbidden because of military operations … [The people] are restricted in a way, in the mind and physically.”
You can read Monteleone’s full interview in “Disputed Territories: Exploring Life in the Northern Caucuses” on PDNOnline.
* Photo, above: A woman in the Dagestan village of Gimri during the sacrifice of a bull. © Davide Monteleone/VII
Disputed Territories: Exploring Life in the Northern Caucusus
Photo Gallery: More Images from Red Thistle