Going Mobile: Photography Books 2015
As Apple’s “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign promotes billboard-sized smartphone images, social media photography is exploding as a topic for publishers. Works popular on Instagram are sharing shelf space with images found in museums, and more and more titles aim to help photographers of all skill levels get the most out of their devices.
Social media might seem like an odd source of inspiration for a serious art book, but one of the most important titles in AmMo’s fall catalog, which features the work of revered photographers like Howard Bingham and Edward Weston, East The Instagram Book, Vol. 2 (Oct.), a collection of photos taken by amateurs and pros alike. This is the sequel to 2014 The Instagram book: in the revolution of online photography.
“We wanted people who had unique things to say about photography and why they were doing it,” says AmMo editor Steve Crist. (Crist is also the co-editor, with Megan Shoemaker, of The Instagram Book.) “The cover image [of the first volume] comes from a doctor in Singapore. He’s a doctor who works in an emergency room and doesn’t consider himself a professional photographer, but he made a compelling image that captured the spirit of what we wanted.
These days, with everyone having access to a camera at all times and the ability to publish high-quality images instantly, hobbyists are growing in popularity and attracting the attention of high-profile publishers.
“More people are taking more photos now than at any time in history,” says Bridget Watson Payne, art publishing editor at Chronicle, who edited It’s Happening: Life Through the Lens of Instagram (2013). “This means, on the one hand, that we have become more voraciously interested in learning how to improve our photos, and, on the other hand, we are becoming more accustomed to looking at photos for fun.” She says that because of this, the readership of photography books is growing.
At the end of April, Chronicle will publish Discover San Francisco: Through the Lens of SFGirlbyBay, by blogger Victoria Smith (aka SFGirlbyBay). Smith, whose success is representative of visual artists in 2015, enjoys a significant readership for her lifestyle blog, which often features photos taken on her iPhone. Her work is shared on social networks – 109,000 people follow her on Instagram – and has attracted the interest of publishers. (For more on social media celebrities, see “Camera Ready”.)
While a typical fashion photography book features runway shots or pro-style photo shoots, the just-released book Creators on Instagram: #fashion (Abrams, Apr.) aims to balance high-end style with social media accessibility. Created by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the book brings together Instagram images taken by some 200 professional designers, selected by their peers, and includes photographs from the Instagram accounts of Kate Spade, John Varvatos, Rebecca Minkoff and Diane von Furstenberg.
Abrams editor Rebecca Kaplan, who oversaw the book’s production, sees connecting to social media as a way to Creators on Instagram more accessible to readers than traditional fashion photography collections, such as Abrams’ previous collaborations with the CFDA (Impact2012, and The pursuit of style, 2014). She says the book will invite readers, even those already familiar with the designers’ work, “into their world in a different way.”
When AmMo’s Crist was editor at Taschen, he edited The Polaroid book (2008), which pays homage to artistic achievement in a format usually associated with amateurs and enthusiasts. He sees the growing acceptance of mobile photography as similar to the acceptance of Polaroid photographs as a legitimate art form. “Like Edwin Land, who built the [Polaroid] camera that made photography more popular in the 70s, Instagram deserves a lot of compliments for allowing everyone to take pictures,” says Crist.
Some outlets consider that the growing understanding of what constitutes a book-worthy photograph is also changing the profile of the typical photography book buyer. For example, MOMA Retail, which includes the five MOMA design stores and bookstores in the United States and Tokyo, as well as an online store, does not generally carry practical books, but makes occasional exceptions for impulse purchases. Norman Laurila, book manager for MOMA Retail, gives the example of 104 things to photograph (Chronicle, 2014), which he said fetched bargains at $16.95, as opposed to the $30-70 price shoppers typically expect to pay for a conventional photo book in the store.
Roly Allen, publisher of Ilex, which Octopus acquired in December 2014, says museum stores are ideal outlets for photo books. “You grab people when they’re feeling inspired and creative, and smartphones in their pockets are the easiest way to express that,” he notes. “A book that takes advantage of this moment can really go out of the store,” adds Allen, citing 2014 Social photographyby Daniela Bowker, as one of these titles.
Meanwhile, sales of art, architecture, design and photography books are on the rise. According to Nielsen BookScan, nearly seven million units were sold in the category in 2014, an increase of 4% over the previous year. AmMo’s Crist says the expanding photo book market has helped boost sales of The Instagram Book and gain distribution at youth-oriented outlets like Urban Outfitters. He hopes for a similar reception for The Instagram Book, Vol. 2“It’s a photography book for non-photographers. For me, the best thing would be for people to pick it up and it would allow them to take their own photography more seriously.
Abrams’ Rebecca Kaplan agrees, and she thinks readers “who may not have been interested in photography books in the past are now more exposed to the art form every day,” which means mobile photography books “just add to that accessibility and interest”. .”
Along with publishers accepting Instagram posts as material worthy of serious consideration, they are also introducing educational books aimed at helping amateurs and professionals improve their photography skills, not by buying cameras. more expensive, but by rethinking the way they use their Phone (s.
The iPhone Photographer, recently published by Amherst Media, is a portfolio-style book by Michael Fagans. Each of the 60 main images is presented on two pages, with text explaining how to use the apps to add creative color effects, simulate photographic emulsions, and more. In August, the publisher will publish iPhoneography Proby commercial photographer Robert Morrissey, who explores the basic functions of an iPhone camera, as well as advanced applications and techniques.
by Frank Gallaugher The photographer’s iPad (Ilex, Oct.) shows photographers of all skill levels how to get the most out of their tablets. Gallaugher, who is also a specialist editor for Ilex, explains that the aim of the book is to map out a “fundamentally useful workflow” to guide photographers through creative editing and safe sharing of their work.
Other books focus on advanced smartphone features. The art of iPhone photography (Rocky Nook, 2013), by Bob Weil and Nicki Fitzgerald, includes explanations of nearly 100 photography-related apps, plus in-depth tutorials on landscape, architecture, and street photography. And The Mobile Photographer (Amherst Media, 2014), by Robert Fisher, focuses on how to improve smartphone photo shoots using GPS, remote shutter and weather apps available on Android phones and tablets.
This Android-focused title also underscores the fact that while Apple products are getting a lot of attention, the opportunities are ripe.
beyond this popular brand. San Francisco-based educational publisher Peachpit has found a niche publishing photography books for Android users, like Colby Brown’s Android Photography (2013). “Android handset makers have tried to differentiate themselves from Apple in the quality of their cameras,” says Peachpit editor Paul Boger, adding that “Google has, through its devices and services, done a very good work to nurture the photography community”.
But Peachpit doesn’t completely avoid Apple. The Photo Book for OS X, by Jeff Carlson (May), shows readers how to take photos on iOS devices, as well as how to edit, store and share images. Boger views these how-to books as offering specific instruction and more general inspiration for photographers. The proliferation of Instagram and other visual social media platforms, he says, has made budding photographers equally keen to learn “how to take ‘cool’ images with all the devices they have and share with friends” than to master the technical skills. In addition to addressing traditional technical concerns, Carlson’s book provides details on how to share images on social media.
As the lines between professional and amateur photography blur, publishers will continue to find new opportunities and new audiences. “We really are all photographers these days,” says Payne of Chronicle. “I’m excited about how it’s democratizing. It brings a lot more people to the party.
Below, more on the subject of photography books.
Camera Ready: Photography Books 2015
A version of this article originally appeared in the 04/06/2015 issue of Weekly editors under the title: Going Mobile: Photography Books 2015