Photo books & photographers
who self publish
Photo books are many people's favourite way of engaging with photography, and they're increasingly popular as collector's items.
Personal Work Journal is dedicated to exploring the best new photography projects, and sharing the personal projects of photographers, film makers and creatives.
Photographers who self publish photo books often want to take as much control of the process as they can, resulting in deeply personal works of art.
Photographers featured include veteran shooters like Brian Griffin and Homer Sykes, along with new talents like Olga Karlovac and Wend Aldiss.
Featured photo books
"My personal interest is in photographing things that are intense in power or scale.”
Ryan Thomas is an early career documentary photographer and has just completed an MA in Photojournalism at Swansea.
Ryan’s work focuses on protest and he’s recently self-published “Everything will kill you so choose something fun proactive”
"For me the photobook is an art form."
Olga Karlovac is a Croatian photographer based in Zagreb.
She has a strong personal style,that’s quickly captured the attention of the photographic community and allowed her to successfully self-publish a trilogy of photobooks that are already into multiple editions.
Latest photo books & zines
NAME Ruth Toda-Nation JOB Documentary photographer PROJECT Our Lockdown Garden Published by Mindful Editions, £40 Recently we’ve interviewed several photographers who although in their 50s might still be considered emerging talents: people like Wendy Aldiss, Rosie...
NAME Wendy Aldiss JOB Documentary Photographer WEBSITE Wendy Aldiss PROJECT My Father's ThingsWendy Aldiss is a fine art and social documentary photographer who has a particular interest in environmental portraiture, and has she produced a body of work that explores...
A family connection opened the door for Nick Hodgson’s personal project & literally took him deeper into the subject.
NAME Nick Hodgson JOB photographer WEBSITE Nick Hodgson PROJECT Free Mines, Coal Faces You can purchase a copy of Free Mines, Coal Faces on Nick's website.Although he describes himself as a documentary landscape photographer, taking inspiration from Chloe Dewe...
NAME Olga Karlovac JOB Economist WEBSITE Olga Karlovac PROJECT before winterOlga Karlovac is a Croatian photographer based in Zagreb. Originally an economist, she turned to photography as a creative outlet when she became disillusioned with her professional working...
NAME Melanie K King JOB Lecturer in Photography & PhD Researcher WEBSITE Melanie King PROJECT Ancient LightMelanie K King is currently working towards her practice based PhD at the Royal College of Art. The project she's sharing with Personal Work Journal is part...
Documentary photographer Ryan Thomas’ self published photobook contrasts protests from the USA, UK & France.
NAME Ryan Thomas JOB MA Graduate WEBSITE Ryan Thomas PROJECT Everything Will Kill YouRyan Thomas is an early career documentary photographer and has just completed an MA in Photojournalism at Swansea. Ryan’s work focuses on protest and he’s recently self-published...
Childhood memories & a technique of creative destruction have resulted in a beautiful new photobook for Polaroid photographer Naomi James.
NAME Naomi James JOB Teacher WEBSITE Naomi James PROJECT Lockdown Decay PUBLISHED BY Pannoval Press (£28 - £33)Most photographers have an origin story, perhaps a moment that turned them onto photography or the gift of a camera that sparked a life long obsession. Naomi...
NAME Zak Waters JOB Course Leader Photography WEBSITE Zak Waters PROJECT Life's a Ball 90'sZak Waters is an award winning photographer. His work is mainly reportage and documentary. He’s combined a career of working with prestigious clients, such as the Guardian, The...
NAME Aino Väänänen JOB Documentary Photographer WEBSITE Aino Väänänen PROJECT We Shall SeeI try to take pictures that somehow portray the person’s essence, that brings out something they might not have seen themselves.Aino Väänänen is a documentary photographer based...
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New photo books
My photographs say something about human behaviour or the human condition. So My Father’s Things was a portrait of him but because he’d passed away, he wasn’t in it.
Wendy Aldiss is a social documentary photographer. Her latest work is a vast portrait of her her father, the writer Brian Aldiss.
She decided to self-publish a selection of the images as a book, setting up her own imprint as well as creating a very successful crowd funding campaign and producing a monograph that's selling well. Read her interview.
Silver can only be formed in high energy stella events like supernovae. All the silver we have on Earth is precious and finite.
Ancient Light is a series of analogue photographs taken in dark-sky areas, enabling her to capture light that has travelled for thousands or millions of years before reaching her film.
Melanie has self-published selection of these images as a small beautifully published ‘zine.
My photography is not about being commercially successful it’s about using photography to tell what I see: photography is my personal empowerment.
Andre Esiebo is a Lagos based photographer and film maker, who’s work focuses on themes such as sexuality, gender politics, football and migration.
His work has been exhibited worldwide at a host of prestigious institutions including the Sao Paulo Biennial, Dak’Art Biennial in Senegal and Photoquai biennial in France.
I'm still looking for another perfect picture that sums up in 21st Century way, what English village life is like.
For anyone interested in British documentary photography, Homer Sykes is one of the most important and influential people working today.
His photobook, Once A Year: Some Traditional British Customs is highly collectable and its publication in 1977 marked the start of a successful career examining British rural life and traditional customs. Read his full interview.
About Personal Work Journal
PWJ is a photo journal dedicated to searching out and showcasing the latest personal photographic projects.
We believe that personal work allows photographers to explore their true passions and interests, to try new techniques or simply to shoot for the pleasure of taking pictures.
All good work is personal.
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.
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 – 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
More articles about photographers who self publish:
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
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
5 tips for self-publishing a photo book
1. Be shameless and relentless when you’re crowdfunding for a photobook
“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
“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
“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
“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. Use a zine to help shape your personal project
“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.”