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PHOTOBOOK ANXIETY – A paper by Doug Spowart

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What follows is a transcript of the paper presented at the ‘Borderless Futures: Reimaging the Citizen’ Symposium as part of the 2015 Ballarat International Foto Biennale. Selected images from the presentation accompany the text to illustrate concepts raised. The text is relatively conversational as it was ‘performed’ rather than read to the audience.



Photobook Anxiety graphic

PHOTOBOOK ANXIETY… a paper by Dr Doug Spowart


I doubt that Henry Fox Talbot or Anna Atkins realised in the 1840s what an impact that the photobook would have in the 21st century and the role it plays in the self-publishing revolution that we are witnessing today. The old publishing and bookselling paradigm is now redefining itself and trying to maintain its composure and power over their once lucrative territory. Now every photographer wants and can make their own books – but they need the inspiration found in the latest photobooks and they need to be kept informed by the movers and shakers of the discipline as to what is happening now, and what are the future trends and opportunities.

As a result there is a heightened anxiety for constant and direct personal connection with the pulse of this worldwide phenomena. Social media is the communication vehicle of choice and participants in the photobook network are driven to frenetically seek updates, reviews, new releases, posts about their books and the latest gossip through social media channels.

The anxiety surrounding this activity is palpable and the frisson of social media, particularly Facebook, is the powerful tool for this necessary communication as well as for community building in the burgeoning indie publishing photobooks movement.


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Welcome to ‘Photobook Anxiety’ otherwise known by its clinical title PBX. It is driven by the sufferer having an uncontrollable desire to be a part of everything photobook happening in the world. It is characterised by the sufferer constantly checking social media –

What are the signs that of those suffering from this malady?


Wishing I could be there…

There are so many events that happen worldwide it’s impossible to get to all of them let alone one. In a recent Facebook newsfeed the frustrated respondent posted ‘Oh I would freaking kill to be there…”

A sampling of the year’s calendar includes these events:

  • Photobook Melbourne February
  • Art Book Melbourne – May
  • Photo London – May
  • Auckland Festival of Photography (Photobook Symposium) – May
  • Kassel Foto Book Festival – June
  • Obscura Festival of Photography (Photobook Day) – August
  • Perimeter book sale last weekend
  • Book Case Study in the Netherlands – September
  • Aperture at Photo Paris – November


I should have bought a copy of…. Out-of-print/Limited editions/pre-orders


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Trent Parke’s Dream Life, probably Australia’s greatest ever photobook, is an excellent example of a rare and out-of-print photobook. Originally selling for around $60 in 2001 it is now is impossible to get for prices less that 25 times that amount.

One was listed on Amazon recently for 1550 Pounds?

Earlier this year one was offered in a Photoeye’s Auction – with a day to go it was $ 895 I did not see the final hammer price…

Last year Abebooks listed one for $1084 in this very town (Ballarat) – I’ve just checked and the Known World Bookshop down the street and they have sold the book.


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Limited Editions and Pre-Ordering

Adding to this PMX is the trend particularly among American photobook suppliers like Photo-Eye to advertise limited supplies of signed books which can be ‘pre-ordered’ with specific cut-off times and dates. Even these can be out-sold before you hear about the offer being available as in the case recently with Sally Mann’s Hold Still.

Recently Australian Bloom Publishing offered little badges with the text ‘Print Forever’ as white text on a black background. These were ‘snapped-up’ and a following post Bloom advised that the badges were ‘all gone’! But advised FB Friends to ‘Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks’. PMX now demands that Bloom is followed closely so you won’t miss out on the following offers….


You anxiously await the posts and stories of people you follow…

Who hasn’t been following the exploits of photobook officiando Sam Harris and his latest book The Middle of Somewhere. Sam’s posts have taken us a long on the journey illustrated by images that could well form the basis of a new book. As FB friends we saw the posted images of the design stages and felt his excitement at seeing the book on bookshelves at major European shows and being on a table at Arles with the book. The anguish of the missing visa to re-enter Australia and the joy of being back in Australia and the Balingup sunset at home… Oh! And the set up for his exhibition and book launch by Alasdair Foster at BIFB…


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You anxiously await the posts about new stuff…

FB Friends – People who you respect and believe know what’s going on offer advice on books to look at, and get before they are sold out. Adding to PBX phrases like ‘Look what I got today from Photoeye, Alejandro Cartagena’s latest book. It will be gone before you know it’ and ‘Holy moly!!! If you can get your hands on a copy of Mariela Sancari’s brilliant ‘Moises’, do it now. Only 500 copies.’

A couple of days ago Anita Totha from the Photobook Club Auckland posted that Broomberg+Chanarin’s latest book was available: ‘Better get your hands on this now…’. Even Bloom has a new pin — gotta get that! And what about Martin Parr badged clothing and accessories … could that be going a bit far…?


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You lament the gaps you’ve identified in your collection!

PBX will cause ‘sufferers’ go to extraordinary lengths to try and fill them… An ‘Ask Meta Filter poster exclaims ‘Help me get my hands on Trent Parke. I mean, his books. It’s driving me mental. I must get Trent Parke’s “Dream Life” and “Seventh Wave” … Replies state the value of the book with responses like ‘Ouch’, ‘And no Dream/Life to be found. Snif’

In another post on ‘The Online Blog’ Kelvin, a respondent from Melbourne, brags about ‘poking his head’ into a second hand bookshop on the way to buying some biscuits from his local Subway store and asked if they had a copy of Dream Life ––– they did, and sold it to him for $70


So busy trying to be ‘in it’ you have no time for your own work

Doug Stockdale of The Photobook blog recently posted ‘a change to my photobook commentaries’. He’s overwhelmed by the ‘dizzying rate’ of new photobooks and the quality and creativity of these books. Stockdale comments that they need ‘a shout out to the photographic community at large to increase awareness’ and that is what his blog attempts to do. However he’s finding that there’s not enough time for his own projects so he announced a a more ‘concise’ Facebook format for the blog in future posts…


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Just how pervasive is PBX?


Using SM for personal communications

A few days before Mothers Day this year a Brisbane acquaintance received notification that Ciaran Og Arnold’s ‘I went to the worst of bars…’ book was available in a bookshop in Amsterdam – She posted ‘I want this for Mother’s Day’ Her partner responded in less than an hour – ‘You got it’. Weeks later she triumphantly able to post that the book has arrived.


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That you know the picture backgrounds for each photobook commentator’s blogs…

Every photobook supplier, commentator, collector or archive has a standard background that is used for his or her social media presence:

Perimeter Books in Melbourne has the shop-view, sometimes with a table of books with Justine or Emma’s hand.

The Indie Photobook Library is the tabletop and a MAC laptop computer keyboard

Asia Pacific Photobook Archive used a knotted wood plank background for quite a while then, the floor of their old space and then confused us all by using every background imaginable.


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Can’t walk past a second-hand bookshop – or bookshop markdown table without feeling a twinge to look inside

The anticipation of being rewarded with wondrous things is such a strong motivator

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Spending more than you can afford building your library

The anxiety of photobook collectors was certainly shaken by a FB post from the State Library of Victoria about Karl Largerfield’s personal library. I suppose it comes down to getting one’s priorities right when it comes to collecting and personal finances.


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Gotta make sure I’ve got the dates of the next Art Book Fair locked-in to my diary

Were you one of the 16,000 who went to the Melbourne Art Book Fair? If you weren’t there you probably heard and read about how amazing it was. Now you don’t want to miss out on the next one… Well, the ‘Sydney Volume 2015 – Another Art Book Fair’ is on in 2 weeks…


Lifeline book sales are marked on your calendar


The Benjamin Effect!!

Photobook collectors will feel a connection with Walter Benjamin and his essay on ‘I’m unpacking my library’. In it he states ‘Of the customary modes of acquisition, one of the most appropriate to a collector would be the borrowing of a book with its attendant non-returning.’[i]

But there are ways more desperate than that – stealing books. A significant photobook identity recently admitted that his last resort to save his favourite book from being held in library limbo by committing an act of ‘Bibliokleptomania’.

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Benjamin also has something that any PBX sufferer can take heed of and that is: ‘Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method.’[ii] And that must inspire those inflicted with PBX to go and make a book of their own…


Antidotes / To Feed or Cure

  • Reviewing your social media strategy – set your FB preferences to ensure you get ‘Notifications’ and that your selected ‘Friends’ are listed as ‘Family’;
  • De-friend people who post what they ate for breakfast or pics of their cat – unless the cat is reading a book!   (FB Friend Judy Barass posted this as a response to this point);
  • Find new FB Friends – sources of quality information – like Harvey Benge, Stockdale’s The Photobook Blog, Foam, Dazedigital.com, Selfpublishbehappy.com, and Remote Photobooks for what’s happening in New Zealand;
  • Develop equity in social media: Giving = Getting. That is ‘Like’ things that you like, ‘Comment’ and ‘Share’ things adding your own comment to make it interesting for you FB Friends;
  • Don’t just ‘lurk’ on FB otherwise things that you may be interested in will disappear from your Newsfeed as FB may think that you to not engage with the content;
  • Looking at allied book disciplines like artists’ books and zines;
  • Sharing your books – I’ll give you mine if you give me yours. I’ll buy yours if you buy mine;
  • Donate and contribute to photobook archives like the Indie Photobook Archive and the Asia Pacific Photobook Archive;
  • Grow your local – connect with events and people doing things in your region;
  • Lobby art institutions, libraries and criticism networks for more photobook content; and
  • Become an active advocate for photobooks.


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In conclusion

Ultimately it’s hopeless and PBX sufferer must give in to their base desires and needs and participate with energy, vigour and indifference to other aspects of your life….


Finally: A thought from John Waters…..


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Thank You – And – SEE YOU ONLINE….


BIFB PSC Symposium logo


Benjamin, Walter. “Unpacking My Library: A Talk About Book Collecting.” Translated by Harry Zohn. In Illuminations, 69-82. New York: Schocken Books, 2007. Reprint, Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1968.

[i] Benjamin, Walter. “Unpacking My Library: A Talk About Book Collecting.” Translated by Harry Zohn. In Illuminations, 69-82. New York: Schocken Books, 2007. Reprint, Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1968. P62

[ii] ibid p61




Cafe Scientifique: The Secret Life of Water – Vicky Speaks

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Cafe Scientifique invite


Inside the Dogwood Xing presentation space (Bottle Tree forms)

Inside the Dogwood Crossing presentation space (Murilla Room with bottle tree structural forms)


Vicky presents her performance

Vicky discusses and performs her books


Victoria Cooper

I Have Witnessed A Strange River says Cooper invited us to engage with a journey through the depths of water. She guided us through an unfamiliar place inter-twined with our daily lives where we witnessed the relentless cycle of life and death. Deep below the water’s reflecting surface, she showed us that a place primordial and alien yet intrinsic to us all, exists.




BIO: Victoria Cooper is an artist with a PhD in Visual Arts researching the intersections of art and science. This interdisciplinary research is informed and inspired by her previous career in Human and Plant Pathology along with current interest in local and regional issues of land and water. During her 23-year arts career she has also worked across many forms of photographic technology–analogue to digital imaging; site specific documentation of performance; and artists’ books. In a collaborative practice with Dr Doug Spowart, she explores the post technological paradigm of photography as a cultural communication and a site-specific visual medium. This multi-methodological approach is applied in their current Place Project work in many regional communities. Cooper has exhibited in Australia and internationally and her work has been published in the Pinhole Resource Journal, the Le Stenope issue of French Photo Poche series and with Doug was included in the publication LOOK, Contemporary Australian Photography since 1980. Cooper’s artists’ books are held in national and private collections including the rare books and manuscript collections of the National Library of Australia and the State Library of Queensland.



Inside the Dogwood Xing presentation space

Carl – Condamine Alliance speaks


Carl Mitchell

This is a Story About Water Too* The quality and supply of water is one of  most important issues of our time. Water quality scientist Carl Mitchell  from the Condamine Alliance discussed the quality of water in our waterways and the health of our aquatic systems – vital indicators of how well we are doing as a society. The waterways in the Condamine catchment are a precious resource for the communities in the region. They provide many benefits to support the economy, society and environment of the region. Due to extensive development across a number of sectors, the quality of waters in most of the catchment areas is poor. Studies and models predict that without appropriate additional management responses the region will be unable to meet the social and economic needs of the community while maintaining the ecological integrity of the natural systems supporting these needs. Carl discussed the state of the waters and what actions are needed in the future.

BIO: Carl is a water quality scientist, aquatic ecologist and integrated water resource management specialist with a passion for the water and the waterways of the Condamine Catchment in the headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin.  Carl strongly believes that the quality of water in our waterways and the health of our aquatic systems is an indicator of how well we are doing as a society. This drives him to strive for clean water for the Condamine and healthy aquatic ecosystems for the Murray Darling headwaters.  Carl’s work in the Condamine has focussed on restoring the iconic Condamine river and Carl has lead the team that won 3 prestigious national awards for the Condamine in 2012-2013. Carl has a history in Natural Resource Management in Queensland having worked for Reef Catchments in Mackay for 11 years as Waterwatch coordinator, Healthy Waterways Coordinator and Water Manager. In the Water Manager role at Reef Catchments Carl spent 2 years coordinating the Paddock to Reef program across the 6 reef regional bodies, before moving to the Condamine in 2011. Carl has been an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in the Philippines, implementing Waterwatch and Landcare programs.


James and Suzon talk about the 'Water Wheel Project'

James and Suzon talk about the ‘Waterwheel Project’


Igneous: James Cunningham and Suzon Fuks

The Igneous team shared its explorations of water as a topic and metaphor. They explained how Waterwheel is an interactive, collaborative platform for sharing media and ideas, performance and presentation. Attendees witnessed how Waterwheel investigates and celebrates this constant yet volatile global resource, fundamental element, environmental issue, political dilemma, universal theme and symbol of life. We were encouraged to explore and discover, share and collaborate, contribute and participate in their project and local activities.

Igneous presented Waterwheel as well as the FLUIDATA project supported by Arts Queensland, and introduced the audience to FLUIDATA workshop that we offered there.

BIOS: Igneous received funding from Brisbane City Council and Arts Queensland towards the development of the platform and it’s incorporation in the Waterwheel Installation Performance and associated residency at the Judith Wright Centre of Performing Arts, Brisbane. Igneous is a partnership between  Cunningham and Fuks who have both given lectures, workshops, master-classes and labs in Australia, USA, Europe, India and Indonesia, in tertiary institutions, cultural venues and community contexts.

James Cunningham is a performance, movement and video artist, and the co-Artistic Director, along with Suzon Fuks, of Igneous Inc., (www.igneous.org.au) a Brisbane-based multimedia and performance company established in 1997 that has presented solo and ensemble stage shows, performance-installations, video-dance works and networked/online performances in Australia, Europe (Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, Poland), UK, Canada and India.

Suzon Fuks is an intermedia artist, choreographer and director, exploring the integration and interaction of the body and moving image through performance, screen, installation and online work (http://suzonfuks.net). During an Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship (2009-12), she initiated and co-founded Waterwheel, following which she has been a Copeland Fellow and an Associate Researcher at the Five Colleges in Massachusetts, continuing to focus her research on water and gender issues, and networked performance, as well as coordinating activities on Waterwheel.

* The Secret Life of Water Book Title by Masaru Emoto

* This is a Story About Water Too. Poem Title by Jayne Fenton Keane


Texts sourced from Dogwood Crossing material.    Photos: Doug Spowart ©2014






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Invite and MOS

The Future of the Photo Book Forum Photo: Victoria Cooper

The Future of the Photo Book Forum ……Photo: Victoria Cooper



Momento Pro/HEADON Event: The Future of Photo Book Publishing


6.00 pm    Panellists arrive on stage                                                             

6.10 pm    Doug Spowart: Welcome and good evening.

Photographers and those who make photobooks are storytellers – and – with this in mind – I would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional owners and story-tellers of this land on which we meet; the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.

This evening we will discuss the photobook and consider the opportunities for its future in Australia.

My name is Doug Spowart, I make artists books, photobooks and I have a research interest in photography and the form of the photobook.

This evening I’m joined by an eminent panel of book people with a wide range of knowledge and expertise on the topic.

The order of this evening will begin with an overview by me about the photobook. Then each of the panellists will discuss their involvement within the book and photobook world. Following that the panel will be presented with a range of questions – some sent in from attendees. Towards the end of the forum we have set aside time for your questions and comments to the panel. The forum will close and be followed by refreshments and networking opportunities …

At this juncture I would like to thank our Sponsor Momento Pro and the Organizers of the HeadOn Photo Festival, and the Museum of Sydney for this opportunity to engage in dialogue about this growing and evolving medium …




Photobook luminary Martin Parr states:

 … that photography and the book were just meant for each other; they always have been. It’s the perfect medium for photography: it’s printed, it’s reproducible and it travels well. (Parr in Lane 2006:15)

The photobook is indeed the ‘perfect medium’ for photography and its history, the history of photography are inextricably linked with that of publishing. In fact some of the earliest experiments in photography made by Hércules Florence (1804 -1879), Nicéphore Niépce (1765 -1833) and Henry Fox Talbot (1800 -1877) were to discover methods and processes that would enable the copying and printing of texts or designs by capturing and fixing camera obscura images.

William Henry Fox Talbot, by John Moffat, 1864 By Michael Maggs [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

William Henry Fox Talbot, by John Moffat, 1864
By Michael Maggs [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In March 21, 1839, Talbot, the inventor of the negative-positive photographic process wrote to fellow researcher Sir John Herschel, about the potential of his calotype research work. In this letter he predicted that photography would make  ‘Every man his own printer and publisher’(Talbot 1839). Talbot within four years set up a printing works at Reading where he printed the images for The Pencil of Nature, his treatise on the photographic process. This was published as a serialised form of text with tipped-in calotype images.

Books illustrated by photographs as a genre of the publishing industry flourished. The photographic image could operate as a storyteller, a precise document of truth, a device to entertain and, at times, a carrier of propaganda. Early photography book works consisted of travel, geographical and military expeditions, trade catalogues, scientific and ethnographic documentation.

Although some photographers, like Talbot, may have established their own publishing ventures, usually the photographer was a supplier of images for a publication that was commissioned by someone else – a publisher, benefactor or government agency. The publishing of a book was, and still is, a task requiring the specialized skills, the entrepreneurship and financial acumen found in the worlds of publishing, marketing and bookselling. Books are created for a purchasing audience: it is a mercantile process where return on the investment in a publishing project is a necessary outcome.

What is it about photographers and their need for photobooks?

Martin Parr describes the influence that photobooks had on his own practice by stating that:

I’m a photographer and I need to inform myself about what’s going on in the world photographically. Books have taught me more about photography and photographers than anything else I can think of. (Parr in Badger 2003:54)

Parr is not alone. The publishing house Aperture – a well established international publisher of contemporary and historical photographic essays and monographs – acknowledges in their organization’s credo that:

Every photographer who is a master of his [sic] medium has evolved a philosophy from such experiences; and whether we agree or not, his thoughts act like a catalyst upon our own — he has contributed to dynamic ideas of our time. Only rarely do such concepts get written down clearly and in a form where photographers scattered all over the earth may see and look at the photographs that are the ultimate expression. (in Craven 2002:13)

Photo Bookshelf


So photographers seek inspiration for their work by building their own reference libraries: have you ever visited a photographer and not had discussions about books or been invited to see their library? It then makes sense that photographers will want a book of their own. Photobook publisher Dewi Lewis exclaims: ‘I have yet to meet a photographer who doesn’t want to see their work in book form.’ (Lewis and Ward 1992:7).

Photobook commentators and publishers of the book Publish Your Photography Book, Darius Himes and Mary Virginia Swanson claim that this need is universal and emotive:

It almost goes without saying that every photographer wants a book of his or her work. It’s a major milestone, an indicator of success and recognition, and a chance to place a selection of one’s work in the hands of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Plus it is just plain exciting to hold a book of your photographs! (Himes and Swanson 2011:26)

It seems that this ‘rite of passage’ is an important step of professional recognition as photographer, photobook maker and writer – Robert Adams – makes the following statement in his book Why people photograph:

 I know of no first-rate photographer who has come of age in the past twenty-five years who has found the audience that he or she deserves without publishing such a book. (Adams 1994:44-5)

Does it then follow that every photographer of note or the creator of a significant body of work deserves a book?

It is not that easy. Amongst others the photobook publisher Dewi Lewis argues that the market for photobooks is limited – where he identifies that: ‘photographers themselves are the largest purchasers of photobooks’ (Lewis and Ward 1992).

Ultimately unsold books are remaindered – something even Magnum photographer Martin Parr experienced. His first book Bad Weather (1982) sold poorly and was remaindered at 40p. In an essay on photobook publishing Peter Metelerkamp reports that:

Parr himself bought in as many copies as he could at that price (very much below the cost of production) (Metelerkamp circa 2004:7).

But while remaindered books can be a great way to acquire a low priced library they represent a loss to the publisher, who may then be wary of undertaking future photobook ventures.

The photographers who are successfully trade-published are usually either well known and/or are those who produce work that is of interest to a broad audience. Most notably in Australia this has included celebrated photographers such as Harold Cazneaux (1878-1953), Frank Hurley (1885 -1962), Max Dupain (1911-1992), Jeff Carter (1928-2010), David Moore (1927-2003), Peter Dombrovskis (1945 -1996), Rennie Ellis (1940-2003).

In contemporary times other avenues of photobook publishing as a documentary/art project have emerged and include photobooks by Tracey Moffatt (1960-  ), Max Pam (1949-  ), Matthew Sleeth (1972-  ), Stephen Dupont (1967-  ), Trent Parke (1971- ) Michael Coyne (1945-  ) and Wesley Stacey (1941- ) and many others. The field of contemporary pictorial photobook books could be represented by the likes of Ken Duncan (1954 – ), Peter Lik (1959 – ) and Steve Parish (1945 – ).  Then there are so many more …

So what about the photographer doing it for themselves?

Historically, the self-publishing of photobooks was a huge investment of time and money – an individual photographer’s access to the required production and printing facilities was a major barrier. Also those who have financed their own publishing exploits generally lacked the distribution and marketing connections that were attached to the major publishing houses.

Access to printing facilities were overcome by the photographer having contacts in or working in the printing industry such as American photobook-maker Ed Ruscha did with books like Twenty-six Gasoline Stations (1963). In Australia Peter Lyssiotis was able to produce:  Journey of a Wise Electron (1981) and other books by participating in a co-operative that accessed a commercial printing press during down time or on weekends. But these access points were not available for everyone who wanted to publish a book.

Bill Owen’s book

Nearly 35 years ago American photographer Bill Owens, publisher of Suburbia (1972) and other books made the following introductory statement to his info-guide – Publish Your Photo Book (1979) – a statement that may resonate with the experience of today’s photobook publishers:

Had my photographic books made lots of money I would not have written this book. I wouldn’t need to because I would be part of the establishment and enjoying its privileges. (Owens 1979:3)

It has been a long time coming, but 175 years later with digital technologies including DIY book design software, print-on-demand presses like HP Indigo, the self-published photobook is fulfilling Talbot’s prediction. It’s never been easier for anyone to make a photobooks.

Seminal  photobook texts

Some seminal photobook texts

The photobook discipline now has commentators and critics, there are awards, linkages with the artists book, supporting independent groups like Self Publish Be Happy, The Photo Book Club and the Indie Photo Book Library.

However just making a book, even your own, does not guarantee success – whatever that might be. But at this time, what are the barriers and opportunities that we in Australia need to consider and respond to as this boom in photobooks continues?

What ideas, social and political mechanisms and appropriate structures do we need to create to nurture and support this emerging publishing paradigm?

Let us now pose some questions to the panel …



See invitation blog post for bios http://wp.me/p1tT11-MT





  1. What is the recipe for the perfect commercially viable photo book?
  1. Are Awards/Fairs/Festivals/Exhibitions important to or essential for photo book sales and marketing?
  1. It’s often stated that the basic market for the photo book is photographers themselves – how can this market be expanded so that the photo book can become more popular for a broader audience?
  1. Is the Australian photo book consumer more interested in Euro/USA content than homegrown books?
  1. Is there a market for Australian photo books overseas? Are there mechanisms in pace to support photo books as export? Are our photo books internationally competitive?
  1. If, as a publisher, you were approached by a photographer with a photo book idea – What would you expect them to bring to your meeting with them.
  1. What kinds of books/themes or content would an independent or niche publisher take on that a mainstream publisher wouldn’t?
  1. In the photo book genre, as with other special interest low volume publication sales, will print on demand publishing become a viable option – thereby doing away with the practice of remaindering?
  1.  How can we nurture, inspire and develop the Australian photo book market?




In conclusion …  I’d like to see, and I guess you would as well, that the photobook break from the publishing paradigm that Bill Owens spoke of before.

Let’s hope that as a result of, or perhaps more modestly, that this forum will contribute to a future where photographers and their photobooks will be recognized, revered and financially rewarded for their contribution to telling their stories, our stories and the stories of humanity and of life on this planet and beyond.

Once again thank you to our panelists …

Our sponsor – Momento Pro

The HeadOn Photo Festival

And to you all —–

You are now most welcome to join us for some refreshments and networking

8.15 pm    Close…..



Bibliography for Doug’s Overview

Adams, R. (1994). Why People Photograph. New York, USA, Aperture Foundation.

Badger, G. (2003). Collecting Photography. London, Mitchell Beazley Ltd.

Craven, R. H. (2002). Photography past forward: Aperture at 50. New York, Aperture Foundation Inc.

Himes, D. D. and M. V. Swanson (2011). Publish Your Photography Book. New York, Princetown Architectural Press.

Lane, G. (2006). “Interview: Photography from the Photographer’s Viewpoint. Guy Lane interviews Martin Parr.” The Art Book 13(4): 15-16.

Lewis, D. and A. Ward (1992). Publishing Photography. Manchester, Conerhouse Publishing.

Metelerkamp, P. (2004). “The Photographer, the Publisher, and the Photographer’s Book.”   Retrieved 12 March 2009, from http://www.petermet.com/writing/photobook.html.

Owens, B. (1979). Publish your Photo Book (A Guide to Self-Publishing). Livermore, California, USA, Bill Owens.

Talbot, W. H. F. (1839). Letter to Sir John Herschel, HS/17/289. The Royal Society. S. J. Herschel. London, UK, The Royal Society: HS/17/289.





All  photographs  © 2013 Victoria Cooper & Doug Spowart

Texts an Overview (except references as cited) © 2013 Doug Spowart


Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.




WAITING, Waiting, waiting for the examiner’s report on PhD thesis

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Checking to see if the examiners have gotten back...

Checking to see if the examiners have gotten back…

The thesis (exegesis) was submitted in late November. I was thinking that the examiners would probably have gone on Christmas break before the taking the time to review the thesis so I wasn’t expecting anything in January. By Early February I began to occasionally check my university email for any news … With the iPhone I could even do that at the beach.

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Monday 11, 2013: The email and report arrived – One examiner gave the thesis the ‘all clear’. The other examiner required review of some aspects of the thesis. So, the final hurdle is some corrections and then some more university bureaucratic documentation and I’m done!!!   Dr Stephen Naylor my supervisor is excited as well…

Victoria Cooper

diving into the final stages of a PhD

diving into the final stages of a PhD


2013 SABBATICAL for Doug+Victoria: A ‘Leap of Faith’

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Dr Doug consulting Casper David Freidricks re 2013 sabbatical

Dr Doug consulting Casper David Friedrichs re 2013 sabbatical, The Cathedral, Mt Buffalo.

In the year 2000 we began our involvement in higher academic study at Monash University in Post Graduate Diploma study. Since then, except for a small break in 2003, we continued our university research and art practice. Throughout this period we maintained both our arts practice and working at TAFE where Doug was full-time employed as a teacher and Victoria worked as a sessional teacher.  All holidays and long service leave was consumed by the demands of study, research and at times a busy exhibition and private lecture programme. The hard work and study culminated last year (2012) with Doug being awarded Doctor of Philosophy at James Cook University in May, and Victoria submitting her PhD for final examination in late November.

Now, as we head into 2013, we are taking time out to pursue our post-doctorial research interests, opportunities to present and share our specialist knowledge and skills and to re-connect with our professional practice as artists and commentators on contemporary issues. It is a ‘self-funded sabbatical’. To finance this venture we intend to generate opportunities that may include ‘cloud funded projects’, artists in residencies, specialist workshops, seminars and consultancies, and sessional teaching or lecturing. We are also open to projects that may become available through our connections.

To up date you on our current interests and professional activities we include the following:

Doug: Social media and its applications within creative practice and personal communication; assembling and writing a critical commentary about Australian photobooks from 1900-2000; the narrative form of the hybrid photobook and the elevation of the print-on-demand photobook into a higher order of visual communication.

Victoria: Maintain a review of contemporary science/art interdisciplinary research as an accepted practice in academic institutions. Special interest in: the scientist, the artist and intuition; the historical use of visual art practice as information within scientific publications; Montage Thinking, as a mode for visual thinking and intellectual discourse through visual and non-visual information.

This adventure is somewhat a ‘leap of faith’ and as such we have created a blog onto which we will post sabbatical related content – we will invite to view this site when it comes online. This WOTWEDID blog will continue as our broader commentary platform – on occasion dual postings may occur. Other special research interest blogs will also emerge and you will be advised of opportunities to connect with their content.

Please contact us if you see any opportunities to support our ‘leap of faith’ sabbatical.

We wish you all an exciting 2013 New Year and look forward to perhaps connecting with you, and also connecting you with, commentaries about the issues of our shared interests.


Victoria and Doug

A 2013 lunch planning meeting at The Horn @ Mt Buffalo on 12.12.12

A 2013 lunch planning meeting at The Horn @ Mt Buffalo on 12.12.12


THE PhD PENULTIMATE DRAFT and 5 Food Antidotes

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Are you undertaking a PhD? Does the stress of it all affect your health and well being?

Here are 5 Antidotes in the form of food snacks that may help.

Victoria Cooper @ the Wooli Study Centre working on her PhD



Two slices of prosciutto, mixed unsalted nuts, a slug each of double brie and blue cheese, black olives, pickled onion, seeded biscuits and packham pear. We drove there so Bundaberg Ginger Beer was the accompanying beverage.

An antipasta-styled lunch on the beach

The view from the luncheon table…

SEE OUR ‘ALONG THE TRACK BLOG’ POST on the location Diggers Beach near Grafton



Afternoon tea of lemon cakes and coffee

Afternoon tea verandah view


ANTIDOTE #3:  A LUNCH of OYSTERS – Kilpatrick, with capers and mayo and au naturel with sourdough bread and fried prosciutto accompanied by a small glass of Verdelho white wine.

Oysters – a serving for three


ANTIDOTE #4: A SEAGULL’S BREAKFAST the coastal version of the ‘Dingoes Breakfast’ – A poop and a look around…

A seagull’s breakfast


ANTIDOTE #5: DINNER – FISH ‘n’ CHIPS out of the paper with lemon slices, mayo, flaked salt from the Murray River and a New Zealand Chardonay from Marlborough Sound.

Fish ‘n’ Chips and Mayo

NOTE: Don’t forget to have a great view to look out over when dining…

The view: Wooli River and Yuragir National Park beyond


We trust these antidotes may work for you … They did for us

Cheers Dr Victoria and Dr Doug






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Cross-checking references to ensure that they are current and hyperlinked in the ePrint (online version) of my PhD ‘thesis’ took most of the day. Books and print journals are marvellous things in that they exist in a physical world—not so URLs. They move, are deleted, lost and are sometimes hidden in the ‘member access’ areas of online journal content management agencies.

Anyway, that’s done now …

OTHER PhD topics on this blog include:






Written by Cooper+Spowart

April 7, 2012 at 9:27 am

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