Sneak Peek at Spring 2011 from Press!
A sheet from Photographic Memory and one from Alex Webb’s The Suffering of Light on press in Hong Kong.
Photo by Alex Webb
A test of the cover for Photographic Memory before the images have been applied.
With our spring titles starting to print, it is a busy time for Aperture. Both Photographic Memory, which explores the role of the photo album in the history of photography, and Alex Webb’s newest monograph, The Suffering of Light, a survey of thirty years of his career, are on press together at the same printer. Alex and his wife, Rebecca Norris Webb, sent me a snapshot from Hong Kong of two press sheets, one from each book, stacked together at the plant. Read about their experience on press with Alex’s book.
Though printing marks the start of the book’s life in the world, it is often a bittersweet moment for me, as an editor, because it signals the end of the bookmaking process, which is the most fun and rewarding part of my job. I like to think that when a book has been a pleasure to create, this shows in the final product. At least I hope this is the case for Photographic Memory, which I’ve been working on for two years in collaboration with the Library of Congress and author Verna Curtis, a curator of photography there. It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with handmade albums by some of photography’s most important figures—like F. Holland Day, Edward Sherriff Curtis, and Walker Evans—and to gain new insight through Verna’s expertise. So, in turn, will those who read the book! A few of my favorites include an album by Leni Riefenstahl of the 1936 Olympics that culminates in a spectacular diving sequence; an album that Jim Goldberg made in a registry book from the rundown California hotel where he shot portraits of the inhabitants; an extraordinary family album by Danny Lyon; and an album containing beautiful, almost haunting mug-shots from a Philippine Prison in 1916.
I was thrilled to receive a test of the cover in the office, struck by how handsome it looked even without the tip-on photos in place and also by how different it became as a real thing, as opposed to the printouts and PDFs I had grown accustomed to poring over. Watching the book make this transition from files to object is magical, not unlike photography itself.
Mug-shots from the 1916 Bureau of Prisons Album