Alec Soth is a divisive figure in the photo world, something that comes with the territory when you get a lot of attention in an attention-deprived microcosm or when you become the figurehead for a whole sub-genre of photography. His quirky, folksy attitude may not go down well with everyone, but I thought his collective, LBM's idea to set up a photobook summer camp for "socially awkward storytellers" instead of doing just another photobook workshop was genuinely refreshing. It doesn't sound revolutionary—replacing the campfire with a digital projector to show the other participants images while telling them a story—but I for one would be interested to sit in on a session. Not all photobooks need a strong narrative to work, but there are a LOT that could definitely use it. Perhaps most importantly, it's free. They don't fly you out to LBM Land, but they are not asking you for hundreds of dollars for the privilege of taking part. For more info and to apply (deadline is April 15th), check out the LBM website.
I don't normally post about awards, competitions, book launches, etc. (despite the best efforts of all the PR people who have got their hands on my email address) but I wanted to congratulate Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs for their recent win of this year's Foam Paul Huf Award. I was asked to nominate for the award and they were one of my picks so I'm extra happy for them. Their work is always surprising and visually exciting, but what I love the most is that it is also fun, something that is all too rare in contemporary photography. I also heard that they will be exhibiting at Le Bal in Paris from May through summer, so 2013 just might be the year of TONK!
The latest installment in the ongoing series of photography eating itself comes courtesy of the consistently innovative and extremely prolific German duo of Oliver Sieber and Katja Stuke (confusingly known as Böhm Kobayashi). They have just released their latest Ant!foto publication in the form of a Manifesto newspaper. The paper includes contributions from a bunch of photo types from across the spectrum of which my favourite would have to be Jeffrey Ladd's list of demands/wishes/grievances. There is also a website (how could there not be) which allowed you to contribute your two photographic cents to a Visual Manifesto event organised with Markus Schaden at the Dusseldorf PhotoWeekend but sadly it is now too late and you have missed your opportunity to enter the Ant!foto Hall of Fame. If you are interested in all the navel-gazing and existential self-interrogation that photography has been getting into of late (and yes, I am actually interested), then this Manifesto is worth checking out.
Book Machine looks like a great initiative by Onestar Press and Three Star Books from 20 Feb - 10 Mar 2013 at the Centre Pompidou. The event is a FREE workshop open to the public during which you get to make a book. You get a 3.5-hour slot to work with a graphic designer from one of three design schools (ECAL, ENSAD or École Estienne) to produce a final PDF. The final book (in a very limited edition of 1 copy!) will be yours to pick up in "the next few days" at the Centre Pompidou. The book format is 14 x 2.25cm with 100 black and white interior pages and a glossy color cover, although I'm not sure what the printing process is going to be... all of this being entirely FREE. Plus there is a bunch of other book-related stuff going on. So if you have a book idea, sign up here.
(Incidentally this post is a defining moment for the blog since this is its first animated gif... slowly catching up with the times.)
For those of you who had been hoping for me to repeat last year's meta-list compilation of all of the 'best books of the year' lists I could find on the Internet, by now you will have realised that regretfully, I was going to disappoint you. Thankfully your disappointment will have been short-lived: QT Luong has stepped into the breach and has just posted the meta-list for 2012. The comfortable (and deserved, in my view) winner is Cristina de Middel's The Afronauts which I am extremely glad to have got my hands on while I still could. For the full list head to Luong's Terra Galleria blog. As for the meta-list, I believe that this is an exercise that a person should only do once in their Internet life so if there are any volunteers for compiling the 2013 photobook best of list, be my guest!