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FORUM: Photobooks – Getting Published & Getting Collected 

with Patrick Pound, Sarah Walker, Heidi Romano and David Wadelton.

Moderated by Doug Spowart

What sparks and drives the passion for the photo book? How do photographers get published? And how can photographers establish and grow meaningful collections? Join Doug Spowart and a diverse panel of photobook practitioners and publishers as they answer these and other associated questions through their personal observations, stories and predictions.


VENUE: World Photobook Weekend Hub, Mitchell Harris Wines, 38 Doveton Street North


BIFB Creative Director Fiona Sweet welcomes the attendees ………PHOTO: Victoria Cooper


The Ballarat International Foto Biennale Creative Director Fiona Sweet Acknowledged country, welcomed the 45-50 attendees to the Forum and introduced Dr Doug Spowart as Moderator for the event.


Doug Spowart thanked Fiona and announced that the BIFB Photobook Weekend celebrates 10 years of Biennale activity in the field of photobooks as what he believed was the first photobook exhibition in a major gallery was ‘Book One’ curated by Juno Gemes at the Ballarat Art Gallery in 2009. He mentioned also that as part of the core program in 2009 he and Victoria Cooper presented the exhibition ‘Book: Site’ at the Post Office Gallery that featured their photobook and artists’ book work.


BIFB Photobooks @ 2009 event


Spowart went on to advise that due to the recent passing of the doyen of New Zealand photobooks Harvey Benge that the event would be dedicated to his memory.


Doug introduces panel ………..PHOTO: Victoria Cooper


With the formalities completed Doug Spowart introduced the Forum panelists:


Panelist: Patrick Pound ……………..PHOTO: Doug Spowart


Is an avid collector interested in systems and the ordering of objects: an attempt, perhaps, to make things coherent. As Pound says, ‘to collect is to gather your thoughts through things’.


Panelist: Sarah Walker ………………PHOTO: Doug Spowart

SARAH WALKER completed a Bachelor of Photography (Fine Art) in 2016 at Photography Studies College. She utilises combination of found and archival imagery, as well as video, as a part of her photographic practice.


Panelist: David Wadelton …………..PHOTO: Doug Spowart

DAVID WADELTON lives and works in Melbourne. Wadelton’s practice includes paintings and photographs and is also recognised for his significant contributions to the field of experimental music in Australia.


HEIDI ROMANO is a photographer and festival director with a diverse skill set, honed through 15 years of experience. She is a passionate book designer and loves working with artists through all levels of project development. Due to ill health Heidi had to withdraw at short notice.


The Briefing

Spowart then briefed the panellists and the audience as to the program for the event. He described that the Forum would be in the format of a casual Question & Answer event. He asked that the audience would hold their questions until the end of the structured program and that all up the total duration should be around 70-80 minutes. After which members of the audience could catch up with the panellists if they had private questions that they wanted to ask.


The questions were displayed on a digital screen and panellists were invited to comment as directed by the moderator. Sometimes discussions ensued between panellists and occasionally a few quick comments came from the audience.

Panel in action            …………PHOTO: Victoria Cooper


The questions and discussion points included the following:

  • Why do photographers want to make photobooks?
  • What is there about the book that appeals to people who want to connect with the book or purchase it?
  • Do collectors look at a photobooks differently to other people? Editioning / Signed copies / A collection focus / Investment
  • How do you display/store your photobooks
  • What do you look for in a photobook? – Do you have a favourite?
  • How do you see photobooks as the main or part or as complimentary of your creative practice?
  • Where do you get the inspiration to make/design or purchase a photobook?
  • Building a clientele – groups, bookstores, student/professional peers, through exhibitions, online…?
  • Awards and competitions – how you see their role in supporting photobook practice?
  • Is there anything that you find particularly special about the idea of a book or the object that is the book?
  • Can you describe the stages that you have gone through from idea to launch of a recent book?
  • How do you keep up to date with your area of interest in photobooks?
  • What is the next book that you want to buy?
  • Have you a story about the book you wanted and you missed it? OR The bargain?
  • What would you expect from someone who is to design your book?
  • What do you think a designer would you expect from a photographer/publisher commissioning you to design a book?
  • The photobook as a companion/catalogue to an exhibition – do you have an opinion about the exhibition in the book as a catalogue or should the book be an autonomous artwork based on the same content
  • What book forms interest you — concertina / codex / single sheet boxed sets, zines, fine press, limited editions…?
  • Commerce: marketing and selling books – how does that work?
  • Can you tell us about a book that you are working on…?
  • Does the idea for a book come first OR does the book come from an existing image resource?
  • The use of found objects and ephemera in photobooks …
  • How do you know if what you have done is a success…?


Sarah answers a question ……….PHOTO: Victoria Cooper


At the end of the event Doug Spowart thanked the panellists, the audience, the BIFB and his partner Victoria Cooper. It was mentioned that the Photobook Fair was on at the Art Gallery and that now would be a good time to add special books to the attendee’s collections. The room was quickly cleared except for a few who remained to ask questions of the panellists.


We were sorry that the venue was not equipped with equipment to record the event.





Return to the BIFB Photobook Weekend Blog Homepage.












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