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HEAD-ON Exhibition in SYDNEY to include Victoria COOPER + Ruby SPOWART

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I’m excited to announce that the two women in my life VICTORIA Cooper and my mother RUBY Spowart have both been selected as one of the LOUD and LUMINOUS curated 100 AUSTRALIAN WOMEN PHOTOGRAPHERS exhibition to be shown at the 2019 HEAD-ON PHOTO FESTIVAL. It is an amazing and powerful exhibition of contemporary photography brought together by the dynamic duo Hilary Wardhaugh and Melissa Anderson.

#knowmyname @nationalgalleryaus


Here’s the story…


ABOUT LOUD & LUMINOUS – from the web page

The Loud and Luminous mission is to recognise and celebrate the contribution of contemporary women in the photographic arts in Australia. We believe this project is unique and important in identifying the extensive cultural contribution women photo-based artists and photographers have made in this country. This project is designed to empower the girls and women of today and tomorrow to chase in their dreams. This is a timely project and one that hopes will help educate and inspire many women of all ages.


Vicky’s photograph is based on an important Tasmanian issue…

Listening …



My ancestors are European…. but I am removed by generations from these origins and have always sought to understand my place in this altered land. Over recent years I have spent time in Tasmania. I have come to know of Aboriginal stories that tell of women that lived and survived through the colonial invasion of their land and the resulting massive change to their lives and the future of their culture. I found Putalina, in Palawa kani, a place for reflection on the story telling that has highlighted the strength and power of past Aboriginal women including Truganini and Fanny Cochrane Smith.


Ruby’s work related to where she now lives and a reflection on her mother’s amateur painting…

My mother painted floral arrangements



My mother painted floral arrangements.

Before getting married and having children on a farm in central Victoria in the early 1900s my mother painted in oils. I never saw her paint – having children and the hard life on the farm meant that there was no time for art. Her paintings, mainly of floral subjects, however lived on and now are cherished by the family generations that followed.

If there is an art gene then my mother passed it to me. In my life I have practiced many art mediums from enamelling to china painting and ceramics as well as photography. Despite having three children and working with my husband in a family business I persisted with my art making. It has rewarded me and enriched my life.

Now in my 90s I photograph with my iPhone and these flower photographs come from the gardens that my neighbours and I nurture. In this work I feel that I am making the flower ‘paintings’ that my mother was never able to…


Venue / Date / Times



From the Headon website










HeadOn–AddOn: Cooper+Spowart invited to participate

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This year we were invited to participate in the 2014 HeadOnAddOn event: Here are the details behind the event from the HeadOn Website…






Victoria COOPER's Detail from Home 2011–2014

Victoria COOPER’s – Detail from Home 2011–2014


Doug SPOWART's – 'Half-light'

Doug SPOWART’s – Half-light


Part of the 2014 programme of:
Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 1.34.23 PM

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© 2014 Cooper+Spowart




Written by Cooper+Spowart

May 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm


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Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013


Vicky and I were in Sydney last week. It is a Big city, lots of things to see and do, festivals; Vivid, Headon and Reportage, people everywhere with phones, iPads and DSLRs shooting. We joined in the photo foray that is Sydney and found in ourselves – and in our subjects, a connection with Australian documentary photography that threaded from Parke’s glowing ghost-light, to Dupain and Moore’s modernist clean lines and then all the way back to Cazneaux’s warm pictorialist pictures. These connections with the history of photography were warm and fuzzy for me and gave a feeling of confidence, comfort and purpose for my engagement with image making.


I began to think about photography and photographers today, particularly the often cited us and them divide between those who have a significant history, both professional and academic in photography, and those who pick up a camera, or use their smart imaging device and just take pictures.

Questions arose – I’ll use the terms vernacular and serious to distinguish my discussion of these two groups:

  • Does a sense of history and experience in photography really make a difference to the ‘quality’ of the resulting image?
  • There is a lot of hype and acceptance of the snapshot ethic within photography circles – so what is the difference when between a serious and a vernacular snapshot photo?
  • Is the general public today more astute about image design, content, moment of capture than serious photographers choose to give them credit for?
  • Is there any difference in the workflow between serious photographers and those ubiquitous vernacular snappers? Isn’t photography still about; having access to imaging technology>looking/seeing/experiencing the world>responding to visual triggers>readying the imaging device>considering it in the viewscreen>take the picture at a selected time/timing> and then doing something with it?
  • Does it make a difference if the vernacular photographer engages in a spontaneous act of self-documentation and the serious photographer engages in the process with a methodology that which is informed by a past lived in photography and the appreciation of the underpinning awareness of the photoimaging process, technology, visual literacy and human sociology?
  • Are both the vernacular and the serious photographer’s images ultimately the result of the assimilation of every studied or subliminal idea and visual influence that they have encountered?

On these days in Sydney I made my photographs, as did thousands of other photographers who shared my interest in using the photograph, or the very act of photography, to ‘still’ a moment in time. But are there other synergies at play? The philosopher Wilém Flusser might an alternate view on what photographer, vernacular and serious alike. In his book, Towards a Philosophy of Photography (2000) Flusser proposes that everyone using photography is essentially being seduced by the camera and its ‘program’. He states:

Both those taking snaps and documentary photographers, however, have not understood ‘information.’ What they produce are camera memories, not information, and the better they do it, the more they prove the victory of the camera over the human being. (Flusser 2000:59)

Perhaps then, if Flusser is right, we have no say in the process at all and that we are merely slaves to the technology. With that in mind, I guess I’ll just continue to make ‘camera memories’ so that the camera and I can connect with the times, and the places, that we shared together …

Doug Spowart       8 June 2013




My Olympus Pen & me: May 27-30, 2013


Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013

Citizens of Sydney by Doug Spowart ©2013



All  photographs by my Olympus Pen whose ‘program’ made me take the photos….

© Doug Spowart 2013.


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




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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


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



hEAdoN/Sydney: Doug to moderate panel on Photobooks

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Presented by Momento Pro   http://www.momentopro.com.au/events/publishingpanel

A Head On Photo Festival Event

Wed, 29 May, 6.00 – 9.00pm

@ The Museum of Sydney

Admission is free but please RSVP to events@momento.com.au by 25 May


Join panelists and guests from the photography, publishing, print, book retail and creative industries to discuss local and international trends in photographic book publishing, and contribute to shaping its future.  The panel discussion will conclude with open questions from the audience, followed by refreshments and networking.

Should you wish to submit questions for consideration please email events@momento.com.au.





Doug Spowart     …..Moderator

Photographer & Academic


Dr Doug Spowart has been extensively involved in creative media areas for over 40 years — his practice includes: artists books, photobooks, artist, critic, judge, writer and teacher. He has completed a Doctorate of Philosophy at James Cook University researching issues of the contemporary photobook. Spowart’s work, as well as collaborative work with Victoria Cooper has found its way into many private, regional and state public galleries, national and international photography and artists’ book collections. Spowart’s photobooks have won the AIPP Queensland Photographic Book of the year on two occasions and he has twice been Runner-up to the national AIPP photobook award.



Sam Harris / Photographer


Sam Harris has been a passionate photographer and educator for more than 20 years. He started freelancing in the London music industry making album sleeve art then went on to shoot editorial portraits and documentary features for leading publications including The Sunday Times Magazine, Esquire, GQ and Ray Gun (USA).

In 2002 he re-evaluated his lifestyle to travel the globe with his family, until he settled in the forests of South Western Australia in 2008 where he shoots his on-going family diary, lectures photography, runs workshops and creates photographic books.  His book Postcards from Home has received multiple awards including the publishing industry’s Galley Club Book of the Year and Australian Book of the Year Award 2012.



Kim Hungerford

Kinokuniya / Art & Design Department Manager


Kinokuniya stocks an extensive collection of graphic novels, art, design and travel books and also features an instore Art Gallery which exhibits works from creative artists to help them develop their careers.  As Art & Design Manager, Kim is versed in the distribution, sales, marketing and financials of art and photographic book publishing, the different publishing options available and the differences in reception from book consumers, critics and collectors.


Paulina de Laveaux

Paulina DeLaveaux

Thames & Hudson / Publishing Manager


Paulina de Laveaux is Publishing Manager of Thames & Hudson Australia specialising in illustrated books on art, architecture, design, photography, fashion and other creative fields.

Paulina is passionate about books, and familiar with what makes a photographic book artistically and commercially successful, what is popular with the mainstream consumer verse the cultural consumer, and has also been a judge for the Head On Momento Photobook Awards 2013 and the Most Beautiful Books Awards



Dan Rule

Perimeter Editions / Director


Dan Rule is a writer, critic, editor and publisher from Melbourne, Australia. He is the co-director of Perimeter Books, Perimeter Editions and Perimeter Distribution, the co-publisher of Erm Books and an editor of Composite Journal.

He is also a weekly art critic and columnist for The Saturday Age, contributing editor and senior writer at Broadsheet Media and has written on art, photography, music and culture for The Sydney Morning Herald, Dazed & Confused, Oyster, Vault, Art Guide, Australian Art Collector and countless others.



Libby Jeffery_Profile

Libby Jeffery

Co-founder and Communications Manager @ Momento


Libby has enjoyed studying and working in communications and media production since undertaking a B.A. Communications at UTS and volunteering with interactive CD-ROM producer Pacific Advanced Media Studios in 1994. Since then her career has revolved around communications, events coordination and media production for creative industry pioneers including OzEmail, the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA), IPR Systems and most recently the Chippendale Creative Precinct.

Following her role in 1999 as Project Manager for the Australian Society of Authors’ e-publishing and digital rights management experiment, OzAuthors, she, partner Geoff Hunt, and colleague James Whitwell founded Momento in 2004.  Momento was Australia’s first print-on-demand photo book service and the proprietary Momento layout software, lets anyone design their own coffee-table photo book easily,  ready for printing.  Momento remains the ‘finest’ service provider in Australia today, celebrating photography and photographers in all forms





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