Archive for September, 2013

Solomon-Godeau on Maier

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Thanks to (Notes on) Politics, Theory & Photography for the post Abigail Solomon-Godeau on Vivian Maier which links to “Inventing Vivian Maier” by Abigail Solomon-Godeau on the Jeu du Paume ‘le magazine’ web site (also available in French.)

It is, as one would expect, a penetrating analysis of the Maier phenomenon,  and reflects on the whole ‘fabrication’ of an art-historical model of photographic history.  It contains a number of insights both into the industry around her work since its ‘discovery’ and into her motivations and practice, some of which I think are truly novel and others which although obvious have been deliberately obscured, for example the clear influences on her images of photographic work by many others, including contemporary imagery.

There are also some interesting comments about what she calls “the dubious generic category of “street photography,” a category so capacious as to be effectively meaningless” which I look forward to reading more about in her forthcoming book. I’ve long thought that it was a term that could only be rescued by some much tighter and less inclusive re-definition – and a concept that has led to much vacuous and shallow photography.

In her final section, Solomon-Godeau brings up the question that has recently emerged about the ownership of the copyright of Maier’s work. Since she died intestate, and without any known living relatives, the state of Illinois might have claims on the sale of her prints and reprints of her photographs.  The intellectual property of copyright in her images, the largest aspect of her estate was at the time unknown to the state and is not mentioned in the probate paperwork. But neither was it purchased by those people who bought her effects from the storage company before her death. It could be an interesting question for the lawyers, though it seems most likely to this layman that Illinois could make a valid claim for the copyright as the existence of this property was not known at the time of probate.

Moises Saman

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Don’t miss the interview with Moises Saman by Pete Brook on’s Raw File blog. Some fine pictures and an interesting discussion. Here’s just one sentence which I hope will make you click the link above to read the rest.

‘In my opinion “professional distance” and “objectivity” are vague terms, because in my work I search for the intimacy and trust that requires me to be close to the subject, to be accepted.’

You can see more about Saman on his Magnum Photographer page, which as well as pictures has a profile and his blog, although there are few recent entries – events are presumably taking up too much of his time to allow blogging.

I’ve never thought that I would be good at photographing in the kind of dangerous situations that Saman has often been in.  I think I panic too readily and now I’m sure I’m far too old for that kind of thing. But if you have an interest in Working in Hostile Environments, the presentation on that subject at the NUJ London Photographers Branch next Tuesday (24 Sept 2013) at 6pm may interest you. The two speakers, Laura El-Tantawy a British/Egyptian photographer living in Cairo and London,  represented by VII Mentor and Guy Smallman who has worked in Lebanon, Pakistan, Iraq and Latin America, and regularly in Afghanistan since 2008 will give some practical advice and answer questions, as well as explaining why it “is NUJ policy for members to undertake Hostile Environment Training, and the value of such courses in preparing journalists for the challenges faced in such situations.”

Non-members are welcome at these meetings which are free, though if you are working professionally you should join the union. Particularly if you want to work in potentially dangerous situations. And if you are not working professionally it is a very good idea as a photographer to keep well away from them.

Edinburgh & the Festival

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

I know Scotland isn’t London, but I’ve got into the habit of including my occasional absences from the capital on My London Diary, and so there are pictures from my week in Edinburgh now there on the web. It was only my second visit to the Scottish capital, and although I’ve enjoyed both of my times there, given the choice I prefer Glasgow, despite the language problems. It seems a rather warmer place. But Edinburgh certainly has its delights.

A view of the castle across the free links on the route from our flat to the city centre

Our first visit for a week’s holiday ten years ago was in the week before the Edinburgh festival, and if you want to see Edinburgh it’s a good idea to avoid the festival. But this year we had been invited to share a large flat close to the city centre during its busiest week to go to the festival, though we did also manage to do a few other things. And it was mostly those other things that I photographed – along with some of the festival stuff that happens along the High St, mainly groups trying to get an audience for their many shows by looking silly and handing out postcards with the details.

We were very selective in what we went to. With over a thousand events on most days you have to be, and we didn’t have the stamina of true festival-goers who can cram in a dozen different performances in a day, starting around 10am and finishing in the early hours. Its easy to spend a small fortune too, with the average ticket costing around a tenner, though some of the best things we went to were part of the Free Fringe, where you contribute what you like when you’ve actually seen the show, and may be offered a CD or book for relatively small donation. And perhaps the most satisfying event I went to (twice) during the week was entirely free, although I did buy the small catalogue of the Nam June Paik exhibition that I’ve already written about here. I’d taken my notebook computer with me to Edinburgh, hoping to blog ‘live’ from there, but there just wasn’t time, and I was too tired by the time we gave up for the day to do so.

The splendid ceiling of a bank in the New Town – taken on a walk that was a Festival event.

We did go to several events after meeting people on the streets and taking their postcards, and it’s perhaps a better way to find things on the Fringe than the vast programme – available free in print or as a download or searchable on the web site, though there is a useful daily breakdown in The Scotsman.

Probably the best thing about Edinburgh are its cemeteries, and I’d highly recommend the City of the Dead tours, listed as festival events but also running outside of it (beware pale imitations – we heard a little of one and it sounded appalling tourist nonsense.) We only went on it by accident, buying the tickets from others in the flat who had booked them and were called away to a funeral, but you need to go back in daylight too. They do have a certain photographic connection, as they made useful open-air studios for Edinburgh’s most famed photographers, Hill and Adamson back in the days of Calotype.

On the to of Calton Hill

Their studio was on the lower slopes of Calton Hill, Edinburgh’s free version of the London Eye, with splendid views across the city. Feeling energetic we also trekked up Arthur’s Seat, though this time we took the easy path – on our first visit I’d got fed up and decided on a more direct route – as I put it in a feature at the time: ‘I led our team up the north face of Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano overlooking the city.’ It turned out to be a little challenging, and could have become our final visit.

In 2003 I’d taken the D100, along with what was then the only Nikon lens I owned, a 24-85mm (36-127mm equiv.) One other limiting factor was that I only two 1 GB and a 512 Mb compact flash card, letting me take a maximum of around 250 raw images in a day, and had then to copy them over into a rather temperamental ‘Image Tank’ portable drive. The 24-85mm was a nice lens (and I’ve been sorry at times that I gave it away) but didn’t allow me to take any real wide-angle images, and looking at the pictures the difference between then and this year is obvious.

This August I had with me the Fuji X-E1 with the 18-55mm (27-82mm equiv) giving me a wider angle, but not going to a real telephoto. And if that 27mm equiv wasn’t wide enough, I also had a Voigtlander 15mm (22mm equiv) and wider still the Samyang 8mm fisheye.

City of the Dead Tour in Greyfriars Kirkyard

So there is a different look to my pictures, with the earlier set concentrating more on details, but also being rather less sharp and less detailed. The Nikon lens wasn’t bad, but the 6Mp sensor doesn’t quite compete. Fuji is one of the best lens makers around, and the 18-55mm is fine, but its zoom range is a little limited. It was good to have a small light camera, and there isn’t perhaps a lot to choose between its digital viewfinder and the poky optical one in the D100, but recent FX format Nikons have far better viewfinders, and the cameras are so much more responsive than the Fuji. Usually it was fine for a holiday camera, but there were times, particularly in the cemetery at dead of night – when I wished I was holding my D800E.

The pictures from 2003 are no longer on line, but you can see a good selection from this year at Edinburgh & the Festival

Fracking, Dead Lambs and Putin

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

One of the things I like about going to photograph protests in London is that you are never quite sure what you will find. Though sometimes it can be a disappointment, and I was a little dissapointed not to find more people in Trafalgar Square to protest against fracking, as were the organisers of the Frack Off protest. I took a few pictures, and then was interrupted by perhaps around 200 people with banners and placards marching in to the square, and rushed to see what was happening.

It turned out to be Compassion in World Farming who had marched from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square Against Live Animal Exports from the UK.  It seems an unnecessary cruelty to crowd them into lorries and drive them long distances before shipping them to the continent for slaughter, but the UK government claims it cannot stop the trade under EU laws on free movement of goods. The protesters say that the EU’s recognition in 1999 of animals as sentient beings rather than “goods” means that this is no longer true.

It was mildly amusing to see a couple of ‘Heritage Wardens’ try to stop several hundred angry animal welfare protesters from coming down the steps from the North Terrace into the square – which the Mayor of London seems to think is his own private demesne and where permission is needed to protest.

But although the protesters were not about to take any notice, they did tell the wardens they would not be there long, and the body of protesters kept on the steps for the short address at the end of the protest before dispersing, not in any way interfering with a church group that was slowly setting up with a gospel choir around the plinth of Nelson’s Column (and I took a few pictures of them too.)

As the protesters against live exports left, I went back to the anti-fracking protest, and was told they would be moving to protest at Downing St in half an hour or so. As I was on my way there to photograph another protest, I promised them I’d try to photograph them there later. Unfortunately I got so involved with photographing that over event that although I looked out for them at times I completely missed them.

The main event I’d come to photograph was a protest against President Putin for his homophobic policies, and to support gay rights in Russia. As might be expected this was a colourful event, and well attended, but it seemed to lack any real focus, with no speeches and little organised chanting. I was just walking around photographing people with interesting placards or dress, and some of those are fine, but I felt something was lacking.

There was also a slight problem that some of the posters were probably not suitable for publication in most media – such as the image above, which was perhaps my favourite from the set. I didn’t include it the the group I sent to Demotix.

There were many images of Putin on display other than that, and many of my pictures show him, as you can see in  Putin, ‘Hands Off Queers!’.  Among them of course was Peter Tatchell with a poster ‘Vladimir Putin – Czar of homophobia’, but I think I photographed that better on an earlier occasion.

Peter Tatchell at Pride, June 2013

Later in the protest there was some street theatre about Putin and Pussy Riot, and I was lucky to be there as it was being set up, and stood shoulder to shoulder with the TV cameraman who was recording it, rather to the annoyance of another photographer who came too late (others were already by my side and pointing their lenses over my shoulder) and wanted me to move back “so we could all get the picture”. If I’d moved back I would have got a good picture of the back of the cameraman, but not a good view of the players – and other photographers, probably including the complainant – would have moved in front of me.

It would have been better if there had been more space – I was really too close to the action, even with the 16mm, but the performers had chosen to work in the middle of the crowd, and it wasn’t possible to move back.

I took too many pictures of the playlet – and have included too many on My London Diary, it was rather more dramatic than the rest of the event, but it did make me think that this was something that would have been better on video than as still images.

Putin, ‘Hands Off Queers!’
Against Live Animal Exports
Also in Trafalgar Square
Frack Off


Space Hijackers £100,000 Police Payout

Monday, September 16th, 2013

I was pleased to see in the Mirror newspaper that the Space Hijackers, who I described in 2009 on one of the many times I’ve photographed them as “a group who call themselves ‘Anarchitects’ whose various projects over the last ten years given a new creative face to protest” have got a payout from the Met Police over their arrest at the G20 protests in April 2009.

It’s perhaps a little unfair on the Met, as it was the City of London Police who actually arrested them on clearly spurious grounds for ‘impersonating police officers‘, but the Met were in charge, and presumably pressed the Crown Prosecution Service  to proceed with the ridiculous case against them. It was almost certainly simply as an attempt to deflect criticism away from the police handling of the event, which they had spent days in the media talking up into a riot, and where they then engaged in riot against the protesters. Unfortunately for their plans, one of those who got caught up in the police riot, a newspaper seller on his way home, was killed by a police officer. Even more unfortunately for them, the unprovoked attack was caught on video, and a few days later the story of Ian Tomlinson hit the news headlines.

I didn’t do a great job at the G20 protests, though I started reasonably photographing the street theatre and carnival in Meltdown – Financial Fools Day, and managed (with some difficulty) to be on the spot for the start of the Climate Camp in the City, I left the area early to cover a protest march in the West End, managing to evade the police containment by walking out as they moved in force to deal with the protesters.

Other photographers who were trapped inside the huge police cordon around the area (it was one of those days when police just laughed at press cards) got some rather better pictures – and some colleagues had arms broken or lost teeth when police attacked them.  Finally the press did manage to get out through the police lines – and when most had gone, the police stormed the peaceful Climate Camp in Bishopsgate, batoning down protesters who stood facing them simply raising their hands and chanting “This is not a riot!”. The protesters were wrong, it was a riot, but a riot by the police. Later it got worse still.

Police had arrested the Space Hijackers on their way to join the Climate Camp protest, so I didn’t manage to photograph them in their ‘police uniforms’ there, though I got that opportunity a few weeks later in May 2009, when they organised ‘Guilty‘, a party at Bank, the centre of the G20 protests, inviting people to come dressed either as guilty criminals or as police, and for the guilty to give themselves in.

The Space Hijackers have also been very generous in giving support to the police during the two protest marches by police in London, on each occasion setting up a stall on the route providing free advice on how to protest and suggesting suitable slogans and placards. So it’s good to see them getting a little payment from the Met.

As well as being motivated by police politics, the CPS decision to prosecute was also clearly a political one on wider grounds. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that they were prosecuted because they were anti-capitalist protesters. Others get away with similar or much more serious breaches of impersonation all the time.

If the Space Hijackers were guilty of impersonating police officers, then every tourist who comes to London and buys a plastic police helmet should be charged too.

No, those aren’t police on the left, though they look awfully like them, and are meant to deceive you.

Of course there are others on the streets of London every day who do impersonate police officers, but if you are a large commercial organisation (and probably giving big handouts to the Tory Party or jobs to former cabinet ministers etc, along with the odd brown envelope here and there) they don’t bother you.

Some council employees too, for example in Newham, wear uniforms that seem more like police than many of the police – and giving them titles such as ‘Law Enforcement officers’ surely are designed to confuse the public into thinking they are police. Its perhaps time the Met took a serious look at some of those who are clearly ‘impersonating police officers’ and threatened them with action under section 90 of the Police Act 1996.


Rev Billy Busted

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Back at the end of July, I photographed the Rev Billy and his team, including those who responded to his call in London, rehearsing and then performing with his Golden Toads against climate killers inside the large branch of the HSBC bank at Victoria.

© 2013, Peter Marshall

Then he didn’t need the bust number on his arm, and the performance inside the bank went without problems.

© 2013, Peter Marshall

© 2013, Peter Marshall

The bank did make a call to the police, but by the time they arrived the Golden Toads and the other protesters were outside on the pavement and after a brief glance at them, the police went inside to talk to the bank staff, and took no further action. They did seem rather amused – like others who stopped to watch – by the performance.

But when the Rev Billy and his choir repeated the performance in the Chase bank in Manhattan, New York’s finest were less amused, and perhaps even slower off the mark. They only caught up with the team after they had left and were taking the subway, when the train was slow to arrive. The Rev Billy and Music Director Nehemiah were arrested and handcuffed, but the toads escaped, although police nabbed most of the toad heads. But you can read the story in the inimitable words of the Rev Billy Bulletin, here squashed a little to fit this blog:

Charged with Riot

Today’s voyage in a Climate Killing big bank – Chase  – was myriad in its results.  The singers in the toad-heads   (most of which were eventually stolen by the poiice ) were an inspiration.  Our run into the bank through the downpour was dramatic, and our arrival in the bank was a confrontation with rich people,  mostly thin blonde women and bald men, seeemed like.  The Music Director Nehemiah ran through the song in the deli across the street and our toad-singers filled the bank with “Climate-Changers we surround you. Your the Ghost and we have found you.”

The singing toads were brave, hopping and swimming all the way to the end of the rows of Chase desks, where bankers talk to the upper Manhattan rich about their portfolios.  We preached and sang and left the premises before the cops even arrived, knowing at that point we needed to escape.  We were arrested down in the subway, in the hot wind of the finally arriving downtown F train.  Nehemiah and I were cuffed, while 8 others got away.  We stood there by the turnstiles in our handcuffs.  The older Giuliani cop goaded us with comments like “Do you think this is funny?” — YES! Climate Change is hilarious, truth is we were laughing a lot- there were just so many cops.  We were taken to jail, charged with Disorderly Conduct and Riot.  Riot?  We sat in the prison cell through the afternoon, waiting to go to the Tombs.

Nehemiah and I were so surprised we started laughing again when the police unlocked the door and told us we were free to go.  Did the cops want us to go?  There is always this discretion… you sense it.  Who decides if we stay for days and days?  But there was a visceral identification that the police had with us.  Everyone in the precinct house wanted an explanation of our action.  When we said that Chase was financing climate disruption  –  the cops agreed!   The thing is… we believe that employees inside the big banks also know this.  Most Americans know that the biosphere is dying by human violence, whether chemicals, bulldozer blades or outright population growth.  We are all behind this great structure that we cannot surmount.  This corporate wall.  But we know that the Earth crisis is a kind of cry.   The Earth cries out to us, or THROUGH us.

We are the Earth’s cry as we shout in the banks that finance all that death.  So while I was in jail I tried to think of myself as a jailed Earth being, an Earth expression stopped in a box with bars.  Then suddenly Nehemiah and I were free, and it seemed  like even the cops around us knew that shouting inside a bank about it’s climate-killing investments is a good thing.

photo: Erik Mcgregor

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Julio Etchart’s Chile

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Julio Etchart was born in Uruguay but settled in England and studied documentary photography in Newport where David Hurn had arrived in 1973 to found a course that became renowned around the world. It was a course based around working hard on photographic projects and the intensive criticism of students work, an approach that has produced many fine documentary photographers.  In 1973 it was a breath of reality into photographic education, at least in the UK, and has since provided a model for many courses elsewhere.

Etchart spent time in the 1980s documenting life under the  Pinochet regime and the opposition to his regime, both in Chile and in the UK, for the international press, and in 1988 Amnesty International commissioned a show of his work for their campaign on human rights violations in Chile.

You can see some of Etchart’s work from Chile on his web site (along with other photography) and for the next few days an updated version of the 1988 exhibition is showing at the Amnesty International UK Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA (weekdays 9-5 until 20 Sept 2013.)  It is a powerful record of the opposition by the people – particularly women – to the repressive regime.

The show is timed to mark the 40th anniversary of Chile’s 9/11, when on 11th September 1972 a US-backed military junta overthrew and killed the democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende. One of its leaders was Augusto Pinochet, who later became President, stepping down in 1990. More than 40,000 people were arrested during the coup and held in the National Stadium, and many were tortured and killed. Others disappeared without trace. Wikipedia reports “1,200–3,200 people were killed, up to 80,000 were interned, and up to 30,000 were tortured by his government including women and children.” Human rights abuses including deaths and disappearances continued throughout his Presidency, and at his death “about 300 criminal charges were still pending against him in Chile for numerous human rights violations, tax evasion, and embezzlement“.

Among the other interesting sets of work on his web site is one inspired by George Orwell’s Burmese Days, produced for the 75th anniversary of its publication. Based on Orwell’s own experiences as a police officer in the Indian Imperial Police force, the book is, in Etchart’s words “one of the greatest denunciations of imperialism ever written, and a powerful critique of the colonial mindset that underpinned the system.” The photographs are best seen in the full preview of Etchart’s book Katha: In the footsteps of George Orwell in Burma (change to full page view to see it best) on Blurb. There is also a YouTube video with a spoken commentary, but to me this lacks the urgency of Etchart’s pictures and voice.

Last month I mentioned some of Etchart’s more recent work in Street Isn’t Documentary.

Getty Grants

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

I’m not a fan of Getty Images, but their grants certainly do support some great photography, as you can see from the winners of the 2013 grants for editorial photography.  Some of the five winners are very familiar names – Eugene Richands, for many years a member of Magnum (he joined Magnum in 1978 and left twice, in 1994 and 2006), of VII from 2006-8 and Getty’s own Reportage from 2010-12.  and Tomas van Houtryve of VII. I wrote here a while ago about his book Laos: Open Secret, published on Blurb, and earlier about his use of Flattr – and earlier still about his photography on another site.

Samuel James, whose earlier project Lagos, Area Boys won the  2010 Alexandra Boulat Award for Photojournalism  also has a VII connection -as part of that award the project as sydicated by them. More recently he was featured on the Lens blog and picked as one of BJP’s 20 photographers to watch in 2013.

Matt Eich has also previously won many awards and grants from the the Aaron Siskind Foundation, The National Press Photographer’s Association, ShootQ/Pictage, The Alexia Foundation, and National Geographic Magazine. He was one of the photographers in PDN‘s ‘Top Thirty‘ for 2010.

The  relative newcomer is Marco Gualazzini, and Italian who started work as a photographer for his local daily paper in 2004.  2013 has been a good year for him as he gained First Prize at the Premio Internazionale Marco Luchetta in 2013 and a Silver Medal at PX3 Prix De La Photographie De Paris  before receiving this grant for his project M23- Kivu: a region under siege.


The Queen Vs Trenton Oldfield

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

I first came across Trenton Oldfield on the web, where I read in 2008 about the ‘This is Not A Gateway‘ (TINAG) festival he had inaugurated together with his partner Deepa Naik. The first was held in Dalston and included over 40 events related to the urban environment including contributions from several photographers and film makers I’d met. The following year it moved to Spitalfields and I was one of the many who presented work at Hanbury St, presenting together with Paul Baldesare work from our then current show Taken in London and taking part in the discussions.

I’ve long had an interest in urban affairs, dating back to before I was a photographer in the 1960s, and this is reflected in some aspects of my work which you can see particularly on the ‘Urban Landscapes‘ web site and also in some of my self-published books. The first of these, written when I was aksed to contribute to a now defunct web site in 2005 but only published as a book after I’d exhibited it at the London International Documentary Festival in 2010 is the only of my books to date to have a little fictional story, setting out a series of pictures from my walks around north-east London in 1989 as having been taken in my wanderings with the legendary (and entirely fictional) author, Upton Trent. When I met Trenton a few years after writing this, his name immediately made me think of this work.

But most people will know Trenton as the man whose protest against the elitist nature of British society brought the annual rowing race between crews representing our most privileged universities to a halt. Our judicial system threw the book at him, not only giving him six months in jail, but making him pay for the privilege of being tried and found guilty, doubtless a process carried out with the involvement of many who had enjoyed a privileged education at Oxford or Cambridge.

Many – even some who thought his action wrong-headed and his ideas crazy – felt that his punishment was unduly harsh for a peaceful direct action, and there was more astonished indignation when it was learnt that Teresea May wants to deport him. As Rupert Myers commented in The Independent,  ‘the UK government is risking a cause celebre with a 21-century deportation‘. In Tories bring back Penal Transportation? here on >Re:PHOTO I wrote about the case, asking people to sign the petitions to stop the deportation on This Is Not a Gateway, and another at If you haven’t yet done so, please consider signing them now.

But there is something more you can do. I’ve just got a copy of The Queen Vs Trenton Oldfield: A Prison Diary, published by the Myrdle Court Press (MCP) which he and his partner founded to advance the ideas of emerging urbanists and which has brought out three volumes of ‘Critical Cities‘. The book is more than the title suggests, and as it says on the site, “challenges many preconceived ideas held about prisoners and prisons. It offers an insightful critique of the prison industrial complex at the the outset of the privatisation of prisons in Britain. Importantly, it also considers the criminalisation of dissent and reductions in civil liberties.” It is available at bookshops for £12.99 or you can buy it direct online, (£2 postage to Europe including the UK and £3 worldwide) and there are some reviews on the MCP web site.

All the proceeds from the sale of the book go towards the payment of the court costs of £750, awarded against him in an unusual decision by Judge Anne Molyneux at Isleworth Crown Court. I’ve yet to finish the book, but it does seem a very interesting read for all those concerned with civil liberties and our prison system. I’m thinking of getting a second copy to give as a Christmas present too.

Vanity Press

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Part 5 of S D Coleman’s There Will Be Ink is now available (I wrote about the earlier posts in Books To Go? a few days ago) and throws some interesting light on the current state of photographic publishing and on self-publishing.

Coleman talks about the well-known names in photographic publishing, and the fact that they will only consider publishing a photographic book if it can be guaranteed a sale of a thousand copies or more – or if the photographer will stump up “between $30-50K. Which makes them glorified vanity presses.

While I’m sure that imprints like Aperture will exercise at least some kind of basic quality control over what they publish, this does seem to me to explain some of the less enthralling titles that have emerged in recent years. Back in the past there were some rather odd publications that made their way into print, but either these had some kind of celebrity link or I put them down to a particular obsession by an editor, and possibly one with little connection to photography.

Obsession isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and can lead to very worthwhile publications – Robert Frank’s ‘The Americans‘ comes to mind, but more often the results can be disastrous, or even embarrassing.

The publishing business is now largely run by the accountants, who have little interest in a book’s content but only whether it will generate the beans. And they don’t care if that comes from Joe Public actually buying the title or from Jack Photographer putting it in their pockets up front.

But although it might be nice to have your book published by a well-known name in the business, photographers will surely increasingly ask – as Coleman says – if it is worth paying ten times over the odds to have someone else publish your book when you could do it yourself through print on demand. Is it worth paying tens of thousands of dollars extra just to have a well-known publisher’s name on your work? And how long will those names remain valuable if they keep on publishing for hire?

He is perhaps just a little optimistic when he suggests that print on demand can produce comparable quality – it certainly cannot yet match the best that modern high-end printing can provide though it can already match the run of the mill.

What Coleman has to say about e-books is perhaps largely stating the obvious, but it’s something many in the photographic world are still blind to. And it isn’t just theory but he intends to put some of it into practice by bringing out much of his own work in e-book or other digital formats. As he says, others are already doing so. Like me he intends to make some of the work available only in digital formats, while others will have the option of print as well.

I rather like his idea that a publisher should bring out e-book versions of some of the classics of photography, selling at reasonable e-book prices. Like him I’d happily buy copies, at least of those titles I don’t already have on my shelves.