It was around 100 degrees yesterday so the twenty minute walk from my place in Greenpoint to Kalina’s studio in Williamsburg left me completely drenched in sweat, and maybe on the verge of heat stroke. Luckily Kalina’s place comes fully air conditioned and stocked with nice cold water.
I was visiting to take a look at some work prints for one of his projects. While we were chatting, he started pulling a bunch of books from the shelf.
“Have you seen this one?,” he said.
“No. I can’t afford books at the moment,” I replied as I paged through Lorca diCorcia’s Thousand.
I looked through a few more books and a few zines before eventually blurting out, “Man, there’s just so much photography I’ve never seen because I can’t get ahold of the books.”
Reading that back, it sounds annoying, “the struggles of first world assholes in Brooklyn.” But it does illuminate something that consistently frustrates me about all the chatter about photobooks. It’s really amazing that so many people can produce them these days, but who the hell is actually looking at all of them? And is it possible to create a distribution system that enables more people to see more photobooks? I touched on this last year in a post, but I’m not sure I’m any closer to discovering an idea. It is an interesting problem and something I’m continuously thinking about.
There’s also a larger issue involved too. Without access to great photography books, I can you really evolve your thinking about photography? The internet is marvelous. I love you internet! I love looking at photographs on the internet and while we talk about the billions and zillions of photographs available online, there’s a shitload treasure trove only available in books. And sometimes those books are only available to select few.
“You elitist jerks! Why must you be so wealthy and able to afford kick ass photobook collections? Envy, pure envy.”
It’s a challenging situation, and more than likely I think most of us will just need to be content building a small collection over a lifetime while looking at what we can online. Over the years, I’m sure more and more will be scanned and distributed in some form over the web.
And who knows, maybe someday me or someone much smarter than me will develop a financially viable service that will allow people to share their photobook collections with trusted network of enthusiasts.
Until then, if you live in NYC, have a kick ass photobook collection and don’t mind entertaining strangers from ze internet, please feel free to drop me a line.
P.S. Maybe a new LPV feature could be about these visits, kind of like reviewing people’s personal photobook collections (the surprises, the gems, the obscure). Might even make an interesting video feature.