After the Image: Making Books and Exhibitions
Philip Blenkinsop and Daniel Schwartz
May 9, 2019 – May 11, 2019
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
This three-day workshop with Philip Blenkinsop and Daniel Schwartz in Sarajevo during VII in Sarajevo: Festival of the Image addresses the critical period between the end of a photographic project and the moment when a designer genius embarks on squeezing your images and vision into a book that will neither make you proud nor rich, or when an artist-turned-curator hijacks them to illustrate his agenda. In other words, the period when you need to exercise an author’s authority but still want to listen to those with experience in making books and exhibitions. Generally, it is a period marked by mental exhaustion, self-doubt, and disappointment. Nothing you had envisaged in the field seems to work on pages or walls. Your “best” images prevent you from seeing the true good ones, and there are gaps in the narrative which you are not able to bridge. You stare at your work and your work stares back at you. You are locked in a struggle that is neither stalemate nor armistice. What you need is a breakthrough! To see your work from the outside. But how to achieve this perspective? Moreover, not every great photographer is the best editor or curator of her/his own work.
Sometimes it is hoped that a book will make the author immortal, while exhibitions by nature are transient. Errors committed in a book can stick with you forever. Errors committed in an exhibition might challenge a reviewer, but you will survive.
Students arrived at the workshop with existing bodies of work or work in progress—photocopies or prints of the images considered, flat plan sketches and drafts of book dummies or maquettes. The workshop time was devoted to moving pictures around on cardboard spreads on the desk and floor and by studying and discussing selected books and exhibition catalogues. Read and learn more about the workshop at: https://www.philipblenkinsop.com/sarajevo-after-the-image.html#/
“The room was filled with the most positive energy from the outset; a tangible ‘ownership’ of images and a commitment to the subjects that spoke of a deep investment in the work; and that is how it was for the week. A joy to work with such an engaged group of authors.”
— Instructor Philip Blenkinsop
“At the very beginning of the workshop, the approach of Philip and Daniel looked totally different, but through the process, such a different approach creates something fantastic.
I like that because it allows students to understand that it is quite alright to have a different opinion and to argue with them about that.
They taught us how to approach the idea of making books, the importance of creating a book dummy (maquette) and how to create one. What is the process, the rules of work on the book, and when you can break those rules.”
This workshop has helped me to have a different approach to the stories that I’m working on; so many ways to improve the creation of a book.
Tips on how to read a photo were fantastic.
The highlight, though, for me, was when Daniel and Philip together selected a photograph that should be the jacket of my book.”
— Midhat Poturovic
“I can definitely say “After the image” workshop was like a switch in my head.
I went to Sarajevo very confused, with a chaotic body of work where I was constantly getting lost in it.
Philip and Daniel were great teachers – not telling me which is wrong or right but just giving a direction and pushing myself to find my own truth.
They helped me see and think about the deeper meaning of the image, not only about its photographic qualities but to see it as a result of a process which has engaged my knowledge and understanding about the subject.
They helped me understand the great importance of the sequence, to understand how crucial is to match the right photographs in order to communicate ideas.
We were talking about everything around bookmaking – creating dummies, using textures and colours, engaging various design techniques.
The highlight for me though, was to see my images working together in a sequence and seeing so many people working really hard and producing gorgeous dummies.”
— Aleksander Nikolov