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The return of the photo book: Materiality as a vehicle for storytelling in the digital era
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Department of Media and Communication Science. (DEMICOM)
2016 (English)In: 3d International Photomedia conference, "Photographic materialities" at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, March 29-31, 2016, 2016Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The photography book dates back to the infancy of the photographic medium as an important form of image presentation. Fast forward to the mid 20th century when the photo essay was popularized in book form: think Robert Frank The Americans as a prime example of the sequenced visual story. In today’s digital culture, in turn, there is a resurgence of interest in the photo book as a tool for image-makers to present their work. Indeed, there are perhaps more photo books published today than ever before, the design and distribution of the work facilitated by digital technologies. The current interest is also visible in scholarship and literature, such as in the multi-volume The Photobook: A History (Parr and Badger, Eds.), and in university courses focusing on topics such as the concept, design and process of making a photo book.

This study explores the reasons why image-makers turn to the photo book as a way of presenting work, a current trend perhaps eclipsing the exhibition. A second line of inquiry is how the photo book may structure visual story telling and a third how the photo book is perceived. Empirically, the study examines examples of two phenomena. The first phenomenon is the photo book in the realm of photojournalism and social documentary where an examination of current examples suggests that the failure of the news media to support in-depth stories has contributed to a resurgence of the photo book as an alternative way of presenting sustained visual narratives. The second phenomenon is the function of social media, where image-makers reach potential readers and, by extension, publishers for the work.

A combination of methods are used, including interviews with image-makers, designers and users of photo books, as well as analyses of the presentation of books on social media sites and analyses of narrative in visual storytelling drawing on tools from rhetoric. 

The study focuses in part on the impetus of image-makers to turn to the photo book as a tool, be it as a form of self-expression or the communication of social issues. A second, theoretical focus is the materiality of the book. The question addressed here is whether the popularity of the photo book indicates a yearning in an ephemeral, digital culture for the material object and, specifically in this case, for the presentation of photographs in durable, printed form. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keyword [en]
Photography Photojournalism Publishing Books Interviews
National Category
Media Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-28714OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-28714DiVA: diva2:958196
Conference
3d International Photomedia conference, "Photographic materialities" at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, March 29-31, 2016
Projects
Nyhetsbilden i förändring: En studie i bildjournalistikens utveckling och förutsättningar 1995-2015
Available from: 2016-09-06 Created: 2016-09-06 Last updated: 2016-09-28Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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Language
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