The photo book has evolved quite rapidly since the invention of the photographic process and I am going to explore a few below. From the worlds first right through to a project that we worked on together. The photo book maybe associated now with a soulless print on demand generation of book making but the photo book has an interesting past and is still can be very interesting now.
'Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions' - cover detail A
The worlds first photo book created between 1843-1853 was 'Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions' by Anna Atkins. It is made up of a series of cyanotype prints where dried algae are placed directly on the cyanotype paper. Paper coated in water soluble iron salts when exposed to sunlight form a compound know as Prussian blue, hence the blue image created.
'Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions' - page detail A
"The difficulty of making accurate drawings of objects as minute as many of the Algae and Confera, has induced me to avail myself of Sir John Herschel's beautiful process of Cyanotype, to obtain impressions of the plants themselves," 1.
'The Pencil of Nature' - cover detail B
The first photographically illustrated book to follow this was 'The Pencil of Nature', 1844- 1846 by William Henry Fox Talbot. Set up as a commercial exploitation to encourage the widespread distribution of large editions of photographic prints. The 'Pencil of Nature' contains 24 plates with a brief text for each. 2.
'The Pencil of Nature' - page detail C
One artist that most of us will be familiar with for his photo books is Ed Ruscha. He is probably responsible for bringing the popularity photo books to the world of book arts. Rejecting the tradition of the handmade limited edition these books are mass produced simple and in large repeated editions. 3.
'Twentysix Gasoline Stations' - cover and page detail D
Heres a short video of Ed Ruscha taking about his photo books. E
Lastly I would like to mention the visual essays that we worked on together as part of 'codex: between this and that'. Here we used the idea of the photo book and combined images together that created a narrative which relied on the form of the book to convey itself. The images we chose would not work, or at least not be so successful if conveyed in any other way. The book holds the narrative of the imagery and conveys our thoughts in a visual way.
'codex: between one hand and another.' F.