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Self published zine | Pippa Healy Photography | Personal Work Journal

Photobooks and self publishing

Getting a photobook into print can be a real challenge even for established photographers and for new or emerging photographers it can be almost impossible.

And even if a publisher does agree to produce a book, the likelihood is that photographers will need to contribute to the often considerable costs of printing and publishing a photobook. And that often means a huge effort raising money via a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter.

No wonder then, that many photographers prefer to take on the task of self publishing their work, either by working with a designer and printer to produce a photobook, or going low key and making a simpler zine.

This month we’re taking a look at 5 photographers who self publish, as well as talking to short run photo book publisher, Fistful of Books, and The Glasgow Zine Library, who hold an archive of zines and run The Glasgow Zine Fest. 

5 photographers who self publish photobooks & zines

It’s not just new or unknown photographers who go down the self publishing route, well known documentary photographer Homer Sykes has self published many times, and superstar commercial and art photographer Brian Griffin is about to lauch his self published autobiography.

Homer Sykes | documentary photography | Personal work journal

Photobooks by Homer Sykes

Famed for his genre defining photobook, Once a Year, Homer Sykes has published numerous books, both with mainstream publishers and via his own press, Mansion Editions.

This month he lauches a Kickstarter for his latest book – to be published with Dewi Lewis. He talks to us about creative control, planning projects and delving into his archive of 20,000 images from Britain in the 80’s and 90’s. READ HOMER’s INTERVIEW


Photo Zine – Pippa Healy

A rising star on the fine art scene, Pippa Healy has made zines an essential part of her process, using them to get shape her photography projects and to get them into a variety of bookshops and galleries.

Pippa talks about her photo zine, Sick, which was a response to witnessing the aftermath of a terrorist attack. She shares her creative approach and talks about the influence that the skate scene has had on her use of zines. READ ABOUT PIPPA’S ZINES & WORK

Travel photography book – Sebastien & Louise

After 20 years travel the globe, travel photographers Sebastien & Louise Tickner, setted down to a slower pace living on a narrow boat on England’s canal system. Becoming part of a fragile community inspired them to docucument their surrondings and the boats and lives of their friends.

The took the plunge to self publish their book, An Uneasy Paradise, Life on the Waterways. They talk about shooting as a team, working with a Rolleiflex each and the effort of printing and designing their debut book.  

Landscape photography book – Marc Wilson

A well estabished commercial photographer, with experience of working with an established publisher, Marc decided to strike out on his own to publish an new edition of his book, Last Stand. He describes it as landscape documentary and it’s an examination of the coastal relics of the Second World War.

Marc’s currently running a Kickstarer for his forthcoming project, and he talks fundraising, working with designers and deciding how many copies to print. READ MARC’s ARTICLE

Brian Griffin photographer | Personal Work Journal

Brian Griffin – Black Country Dada

If you bought a Depeche Mode record in the 80’s and 90’s, chances are that Brian Griffin shot the cover, as well as dozens of other iconic album covers. In a career stretching more than four decades, Brian’s been recognised with awards that range from Life’s photographer of the decade, to best photobook of the decade.

Having just launched his self-published autobiography at the Format Festival, Brian talks about the joy of total control, the financial pressures of going it alone, and why his self published zines are still selling 40 years later. READ BRIAN’s INTERVIEW



Personal Work Journal features photography projects  & photobooks from around the world.

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Also in this month’s feature:


photobooks | self publishing | fistful of books

Fistful of Books – Simon Robinson

The man behind this short run photobook imprint shares the story of how he started a publishing company, thanks to cats on the internet, and explains how looking for an outlet for his work encouraged him to do it him self.

He talks about taking Fistful of Books from a personal project to a well regarded publisher, what enjoys about the process of producing books, and what he finds new photographers to publish. READ SIMON’S ARTICLE



Glasgow Zine Library | Photography | Personal Work Journal

The Glasgow Zine Library

At the heart of the zine scene are libraries and archives, and none are better regarded than GZL, who as well as keeping a huge range of zines, also run the Glasgow Zine Fest.

They talk us through their selection of photographers who are making a splash with zines, and share how they keep it DIY with courses and festivals. READ THE FULL STORY



1. Be shameless and relentless when you’re crowdfunding for a photobook

Brian Griffin

“It requires an extraordinary amount of effort, virtually 24 hours a day for a month. In order to hit your target you need to constantly use social networks to the point of embarrassment. If you like to hide yourself away or think you can just concentrate on shooting work for a book, then don’t try it. You’ve got to be right out in front, embarrassing yourself by posting every minute of every day for a month.”


2. Be prepared for hardwork – printing is just the start

Homer Sykes

“Managing the process of taking a book to publication is very complicated and it’s not just about getting the book to press and dealing with the printers. When you get the hundreds of copies back you’ve got to find distribution, somewhere to store them.”


3. Keep it low-fi & keep trying different layouts

Pippa Healy

“I’ll print the pages out several times and I’ll fold them into shape, so you start getting the booklet and start seeing how they work together. Because sometimes they can work well on the screen and then when you look at it on paper, it doesn’t work. So you have to physically keep printing it out.”


4. Keep an eye on costs

Louise Tickner

“We we tried very hard to keep the price under £20 because we wanted to be able to give it out to everyone that’s in it and share it amongst this community and we we couldn’t have done that if it was too expensive. We also make it affordable for anybody that wants to buy it so we didn’t want to put it in the £40 bracket. “


5. Publishing photobooks can be the start of a new career or income

Louise Tickner

“We we tried very hard to keep the price under £20 because we wanted to be able to give it out to everyone that’s in it and share it amongst this community and we we couldn’t have done that if it was too expensive. We also make it affordable for anybody that wants to buy it so we didn’t want to put it in the £40 bracket. “


6. Use a zine to help shape your personal project

Simon Robinson

“As a photographer I find that it can help bring a body of work into focus, partly because you find that you’re shooting for a purpose rather than going out and photographing anything that catches your eye.”



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