Dear Exposures Readers,
Aperture friend, Radius co-founder, and photobook freak Darius Himes, sends notice that the deadline for the Blurb Photography Book Now competition is looming. All entries must be received by noon PDT, July 16, 2009.
Last year, I had the pleasure of being in one of the first groups of jurors to participate in Blurb Photography Book Now (as was fellow Aperture editor, Denise Wolff), and it was a real treat when all the books from the “Thematic Photography Book” category—of which I was one of 5 jurors—started pouring in and piling up. In looking through them, it was evident to me that one key limiting factor for the technology had to do with an artist’s ability to work with the few format options available. In the best, most successful books, the artists accepted and adapted effectively to those parameters in interesting and creative ways, whereas others were clearly fighting it the whole way through—and their layouts subsequently tried to work despite the format, not with the format. Another observation I made at the time was how frequently the text—whether it be simple captions or an artist statement—was treated as a mere afterthought, and not integrated into the larger whole of the book with much intention. Of course for me, the book is such a great form precisely because of the possibilities present when text and image interact.
One thing I was a bit confused about in last year’s competition was how the somewhat vague category of “Thematic” work (the one I had been given to jury) differentiated itself from the even more vague “General” category, so I was pleased to see that they had redefined the categories to be a little more straightforward: Fine-Art, Commercial, and Editorial. (Mr. Himes, who has coordinated and helped guide this competition, writes further about this tweaking of categories in his blog.)
I frequently advise people who are interested in having a book published that the best first step is to try to work with the book form on their own before presenting it to a publisher: make a hand made maquette, barter some art for design services, or—hey, here’s an idea—why not make a book via one of the super-easy digital printing services now so widely available. This competition (which is not limited to ONLY Blurb-made books) is a chance to do just that, and to possibly get some feedback and recognition while you’re at it!
Also, while you’re thinking about competitions, don’t forget that the Aperture Portfolio Prize deadline is also looming… more about that next week.
Best of luck,
Lesley A. Martin