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Cator Family Ablum

Photobooks - now and then

Stuff to study and stuff to do

This week I sat in on an on-line Q&A session with Cocoa Laney who shared her tips on project creation with us. Cocoa discussed documentary photography and its history and the results of her RPS Postgraduate Bursary. At the end of her project the work became a photobook.

I have a long standing interest in photobooks from my professional practice which has resulted in an unusual perspective. First I used to do print solutions for portraits and text in passports - bit of an niche area but gave me practical experience of some of the interactions between different materials in a book. And also what exposure to the elements and criminal intent can do.

This leads me into the second, and longer term interest - the preservation of our heritage in books of photographs. I have worked on conservation of photographs for many years and believe that we need to conserve our photographs for the benefits of future generations. For those interested in this area this work is documented in International Standards for Photography, and in particular for the conservation of photobooks.

So what to do in this digital age? Get your work printed and support one of our Partners who in turn support our bursaries. Another option is to  make your own photobook. This Landscape group event would be a good way into this.

Making your own photobook has a long and interesting history which I study as a part of my conservation practice and an example is shown above. This is the Cator Family Album once again found on a gallery visit to Washington DC. In preservation terms we would consider this as a mixed media archive as the page consists of a water colour painted background with photographs glued to the surface - a photocollage. Incidentally, there are some wonderful examples in the V&A collection - check out the work of Kate E Gough.

This example of photocollage dates from the mid 19th century where aristocratic Victorian women produced family albums in this form, another example of photography under the social constraints of the time. And another example of layers before Photoshop!