On Photobooks

Jorg Colberg is a photographer, consultant, writer and educator. He has written a book about photobooks. And at first glance It does feel a little as if he is teaching granny to suck eggs (wherever that expression comes from).

What I mean by that is much of what he writes in Understanding Photobooks seems obvious. Surely, if considering how you want your photobook to look and feel will always be predetermined in the production planning. Who you are aiming it at, the price, the text, fonts, colours etc. all come into play. Perhaps it s just me as I do see the value of his content but I think, having gone to Colberg’s website first and read (under the Photobook consulting) that “Photographers usually aren’t designers, they aren’t bookbinders, and they aren’t editors” I have to disagree to a point.

This maybe because not only am I a photographer, I am also a qualified and experienced journalist, with filmmaking skills, design and marketing know-how, social media expertise and website management to name a few other ‘hats’. Being a photographer now involves a vast number of other roles, and yes, although possibly not being expert in all, and Colberg is after all pushing his consulting services, it is rather frustrating to come away with a sense of only being allowed one ‘talent’.

But putting aside this small irk, it is interesting to read that Colberg is self-taught, something I have felt has always been underrated in many fields. And that he believes in writing in a manner that is open to all, which is what I always advocate but possibly why at first his content felt a little obvious to me.

The content of Understanding Photobooks does include some great insights into the world of photobook publishing. Speaking to a number of publishers, it is a comment by Dewi Lewis (publishing company of same name) who says that they choose their books because they believe in the work rather than on simple commercial reasons that provides reassurance that to imagine creating a photobook is not a futile dream.

And as I read further, there are some incredibly useful considerations for making a photobook. Incredibly useful.

My issue here it transpires is that I’m reading Colberg’s advice and guidance on a computer screen. A tad ironic given it is all about the photobook and the place it takes in our hearts and minds. I’ve never been one for online reading, well for long articles/novels etc., so it may be time to place an order for the physical version so that if and when I do feel the time is right to consider the creation of a photobook, I will be able to digest Colberg’s insight on the topic in book form, which somehow seems more fitting.

Online References:

COLBERG, Jorg. 2017. ‘Photography’ J M Colberg Available at: http://jmcolberg.com/photography [accessed July 5, 2017]