Auckland Festival of Photography turns lens on photobooks

  • 27/05/2015

It seems that almost everyone is a photographer these days, and with the increase in technology and crowd-funding options available it has never been easier to self-publish work.

The phenomena of the 'photobook' goes under the microscope this weekend as part of the Auckland Festival of Photography's Talking Culture Symposium.

One of Saturday's speakers is Dr Doug Spowart, who has been in the photographic industry for over 45 years and whose PhD thesis centred on photobooks and digital publishing.

Dr Spowart says there is "incredible interest" in self-publishing today, as both professional and amateur photographers alike are making the most of new opportunities to design and make books without the need for backing by a major publishing company.

"What we have in the world right now is a revolution of self-publishing which is providing everyone with an opportunity for their voice to be heard," says Dr Spowart.

"All of a sudden there is a whole generation of people who have access to lines of communicating, creating and also sharing with others."

He estimates around 200 million photobooks will be produced this year, which includes everything from one-off books documenting family holidays to mass-produced works by some of the world's top photographers.

"Many of the productions now are about people producing things where they are producing to sell – an edition of somewhere around 40 to 500, or 800 or 1000 isn't uncommon - whereas in the past with conventional offset printing, for example, you needed to have 1000 or 2000 or 5000 books published which meant that there was a significant financial obligation at the beginning of the process."

The advent of crowd-funding websites such as Kickstarter has also made it possible for photographers to get help in covering the costs of printing.

"The success of these crowd-funded projects is very much based on how successful your social media networks are – you have to build social media equity. You have to have lots of friends, lots of people interested in you, and obviously you need to offer good quality rewards."

Dr Spowart will be speaking at 12:15pm on Saturday in Auckland Art Gallery Auditorium.

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