Future of the Photo Book

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Daylight Magazine's editors were asked to participate in an ongoing conversation focusing on the future of photo-books. This conversation was orchestrated by Flak Photo and the Resolve blog. For more posts check out:  http://bit.ly/7yBOmW

Michael Itkoff: The importance of the photographic book has only grown during this increasingly digitized era. Perhaps the tactility or permanence of the object holds more weight now that ephemeral pixels and bits engage in a continual dance on our screens. 

As a photographer, publisher and collector I see the monograph as an important end-point for completed bodies-of-work. Some projects are not fully realized until they can be read, studied, flipped through, consolidated, in one place. I often feel the experience of looking through a photo book is a personal experience wherein the viewer sees the world through the photographer's eyes. The cumulative effect of the book also allows for a more profound read done according to the viewer's pace. That said, we are looking forward to instituting a small program of printed monographs in addition to the printed editions of Daylight Magazine. And I will continue to compulsively build my collection of photo books indefinitely...

Taj Forer: In my opinion, the photography book is essential to the medium. While photography is undergoing massive changes at this moment in history as relates to broad conversations about analog vs. digital, etc., etc., etc., it is perhaps helpful to remember that this magical process of recording evolved as a print medium. For over a century, the photography book has represented the culmination, or finality, of a body of photographic work. While this may be untrue for some photographers working today, I believe that the vast majority of photographers continue to perceive the printed book to be essential to their practice. These roots are deep and represent a true underpinning of photographic dissemination. Yes, I am aware of the "The Internets" and everything that this wonderful phenomenon implicates for the distribution of photographic imagery. However, the tangible, archival nature of the photography book (of any book, for that matter) excites me in ways that the web simply cannot approximate. The experience of pouring over the pages of a finely printed monograph, of smelling its ink, being careful not to crack the spine or crimp the pages, touching the images if I'm feeling dangerous, returning day after day, month after month, year after year cannot be found in any other capacity. And perhaps that's it, perhaps its the experience I'm after. Perhaps it has nothing to do with anything apart from that inarticulable space within which I find myself, time after time, when sitting with a book of photographs and a good light source. This experience, shared by countless people in countless corners of the world, is one that I cannot imagine living without. I hope the same is true for you. While photography publishers slash their lists and tighten their belts, web traffic soars and e-readers fly off the shelves. After all, I suppose its all about the dollar and offset printing is only getting more expensive. So, let this serve as a reminder to us all that without demand, product cannot exist because we live in a capitalist world, plain and simple. Therefore, let us consume! It is our responsibility as members of the photographic community, as consumers of photography, to continue our fetishized behavior by buying these beautiful objects, opening them, smelling them, touching them, laying them in our laps and getting lost in them. It is really almost too good to be true, the photography book, so I wouldn't be surprised if, like many things wonderful and important, we mess it all up and they vanish forever. However, it is certainly far from dead. So, let's go out this holiday season and by some photography books. And then, when the holiday season is over, let's go out and keep buying photography books! Without us, the production of these beautiful records will most likely cease and with the end of photography book production the medium will undergo vast changes that I fear will not be for better. Its up to us, it really is.