Self publishing as an extension of film photography
Some may know I have recently published a small zine from a series of images from a trip to Tokyo. Truth be told its a process that I almost fell into in some ways. I had no intention of publishing a series of images before leaving, but the end to end process of shooting, processing, and printing didnt seem complete when I had finished the work. It was through this process that I realised some things. As I started to understand I wanted to publish the set as a series of images I undertook a process of investigating others that had done something similar. What I found was intriguing.
What I found was a small community of people that had very similar philosophical ideas about photography. Each person I made contact with made me realise this more and more. Not all of them shot film, but I dont think that I met anyone that hadnt started their photographic journey with film.
This inspired me to continue with the process of self publishing, as well as getting started on shooting something new as well. Its provided me with a source of inspiration for my work, and a purpose to apply to the hours of work that goes into shooting and then printing in the darkroom.
I was so interested about the people that I was meeting I started to blog about them. You can read the few interviews that I have managed to cobble together so far. I plan on doing more.
Its such a good feeling when youre able to extract a sense of energy and enthusiasm out of the people that you meet online. I think these people are definitely the type of guys that I would enjoy socialising with in real life rather than over social media. Its sort of oxymoronic (dont know if thats a word) that the whole chasm that is titled social media in the new age of digital interaction can sometimes force out a side of people that is far from social. The faceless nature of it allows for it at times I think.
I wont spend more time continuing to go over that fact. Its a bit of a contentious topic, especially given the likelihood that youre reading this post as you 'socialise' with me on social media. I do think its a topic that may be worth a post again in the future. I will say this, I just undertook a culling of 'friends' on social media. I would like to ensure that the group of people that Im connected to contribute to the relationship.
As I stated in the heading of the post, the fact self publishing was something I had uncovered as a further extension of shooting photos with film medium was what really started to interest me. Film has a few things many have talked about as reason why they choose to use it even though its expensive and in many ways cumbersome when compared to digital. Some would argue that the cumbersome nature of it is an advantage, but it takes a certain person to want to operate in this way.
Film in its absolute and unarguable nature is tactile and permanent in ways that digital photography is not. This isnt a topic for conversation as far as Im concerned. Its a fact. Its not to say that film is better or worse than digital, its different. For me personally its better, but thats me.
When you take a film image and you make prints of the photos there is another level to the permanency. There's also a time commitment involved that cant be compared in the digital world. The next part of this puzzle comes with the other area of debate about the internet and photography. Sharing images online.
The online community of image sharing is such a infinite place. The word community might be wrong, metropolis is maybe closer, but maybe still doesnt lend itself to explaining the issue for me. Finding some small corner of the internet thats still functioning like a community rather than a big city is rare. Protecting these areas is even harder.
The photo groups on Facebook or Flickr often start out in a similar vein. A small group of people getting together to share work and seek feedback and criticism from like minded people. While the group is small people know each other. Its like a small country town. There is a respect for one another and people are close. Then the groups grow as the members are friends and when outsiders come in they see how well the community works together. They too get to know each other, but as new people come the main contributors shift a little and the number of images increases and it becomes impossible to provide meaningful commentary on every image.
People then resort to using the 'Like' or "Fav' button. They dont have time to comment but they want to feel like they are still active in the group. At this point there are still some that are leaving good feedback, but then something else starts to occur. As the group size grows more trolls start to roam the group trying to use the fact there are a large number of people to their advantage. They try and post advertising and things that are not inline with the groups original mission statement. This results in the need for rules to govern the group, as well as police to enforce them.
The group all this time is growing, but the growth is for different reasons. Now the group is growing as the number of people already there must mean that its popular, so others want to be on the band wagon. This creates a new problem. People start to post images that dont meet the groups genre. Not for lack of good intentions, but by in large due to the fact that they are not educated in the genre in question. Previously this would have been OK as the original members would have been happy to educate the new members, but the group is too big for this now.
They are here due to the fact that there are a lot of other people here. They didnt come for the good feedback or the healthy community, they came for the number of people. They want to contribute for no reason other than to show their work to a large number of people. They dont care about contributing to the community in other ways, and likely wont react well to feedback if provided.
These are the reasons that sharing the images on a blog post or on social media didnt seem like the way to do justice to the process that I love. These are the thoughts I have been contemplating for a long while now. I find it amazing that the process of film photography is such that I am able to actually learn things about myself as an entity. Film photography for me in some ways is almost a philosophy, and I think there are a lot that would agree with this.
The permanency of my zine as a publication in its own right is a part of me, and a part of my way of doing things now. I intend on making more.
All the images in this post are from the Tokyo series and are included in the zine. I have posted a few more, as well as the intro page as well, and if you would like to look at the whole book then its available as a video on the link at the start of the page.
I am not doing this to make money. I am doing this to share a small portion of what I do with a small number of people that share my views or might like to learn just a little about me. Photography, no matter what the subject matter, is always a reflection of the artists when its done well.