Markus Andersen just got himself a nice book done, here is a preview of the book and some insights about the issues he had to face and overcome and a few tips for approaching publishers.
I am Markus Andersen, a Sydney based photographer that specialises in documentary / street / conceptual art photography. I have been exhibited both nationally (Australia) and internationally and my work is held in both public and private collections.
In 2015 year I opened a major exhibition of my black and white work at the Australian Centre For Photography titled “Mirrored” with Turkish photographer Elif Suyabatmaz. I use a variety of mediums when shooting, both analoge and digital. Rage Against The Light is my first published book by T&G publishing.
What Inspires you?
As a creative person many things inspire me, however it is the natural world that makes me want to create. In essence, the life that unfolds in front of my eyes – light raking across a broken down fallen tree, the sight of a huge storm front hitting the Sydney coast or the smallest elements of our world – bees buzzing, a lost helium balloon rising slowly into the sky or listening to water falling on rocks etc. Things that relax and clear my mind.
Tell us more about your Book “Rage Against The Light”
The title of the book was drawn the from Dylan Thomas poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” and the refrain “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. In my book perhaps “light” can symbolise life and “darkness” death or the struggle as a photographer to control harsh ambient light.
From my perspective the “Rage Against The Light” book images reflect how the people of the city (or suburbs) scurry about, immersed in their own world, moving through rivers of darkness and light created by the urban and natural environments (both hard edged architecture and the organic world).
The imagery in the book is drenched in darkness, a thick perfect dark, broken only by the sledgehammer like light of the Australia sun – striking subjects, illuminating movement and actions. How did you settled on making a book? I contacted the publisher directly with a proposal for a book which did not come to fruition, fortunately some of the work morphed into “Rage Against The Light”.
I found the publisher was after unique ideas, a narrative, or an unusual concept behind the work, something possibly not seen before, something a little different. It was then a matter of focusing on a unifying concept for the book. This involved editing hard into the work, cutting it down then working out sequences and structure. This is a very fluid process and it can change very quickly, sometimes moving the book’s visual story in a new direction.
Once a final sequence was agreed upon the final images (both film and digital) were then prepared for printing. Whether the image was shot on film or digital there was to be a unifying vision for the included images – gritty, dark, dynamic. Working with a publisher like T&G and with curators I have learned what is liked, that is to be able to see is the “photographer” behind the camera in the photos (metaphorically speaking), the personality of the creator of the work coming through in imagery on the page.
In my opinion a physical photo book is a completely different experience to a digital image or digital book. You have a relationship with a physical photo book, it becomes an object in your world, or a piece of art in itself. A physical book is a unique sensory experience; the feel of the paper, the binding, the smell of the pages etc. What were some challenges and how did you overcome them?
Personally, I found the most difficult aspect when creating in a book was the editing and sequencing. Having to drop great images because they either did not align to the concept or they were simply difficult to place within the body of images. No single image is too precious to discard or cut for the greater good of the overall work so I had to be prepared to drop certain images I may feel an affinity toward.
Understanding how and why some images sequence and some do not was eye opening. To keep visual relationships as subtle as possible within the overall narrative of the book, however still linking visual elements from image to image. Also, that sequencing a book is different to an staging an exhibition as there tends to be more images which need a clear cohesive structure from the very first image to the closing page.
Any tips for approaching publishers?
If you are thinking of approaching and submitting your idea to a publisher, do some extensive research . Get online and Investigate what they currently publish, what they have previously published, whether your work fits into their catalogue and if the books they publish are in the style / format that you pre visualise for your book.
Also, try to research the who would be the correct person to contact in the publishing house dealing with submissions. Additionally, double check if the publishers specialise in only fine art photo books and if photo books are just an off shoot of their overall output.
With major publishers it is difficult to find the extact person to contact who can make a decision on submissions (or even advise you of the correct procedure on how to submit your idea). So in my opinion, mid sized / small publishers would be your best bet for success as an emerging photographic artist. If your work is strong, the basic idea is sound (and has a market) then they will be more likely to get back to you.
Don’t be afraid to call or contact directly, you never know, your images and concept may be exactly what they are looking for. I believe publishers are looking for photographers whose work features a unique story, or a dynamic concept or maybe interesting narrative.
Approaching a publisher with just a “best of” collection of images or some random street images (without a binding idea) probably would not get you a reply (as they have probably seen it all before). When submitting be prepared if possible to have some pages already sequenced and ready to roll. Less is more, only show a small, ultra strong selection to impress!
If the publishers are into your work and concept and wish to move ahead with a book then, depending on the publisher you may have to fund the book in full, or the publisher partially invest in the book or if they truly believe in you as an photographer of the future then they may support the project completely.
If you DO get a publisher but you have to fund it (in full or partially) then a Kickstarter campaign is probably the best way to raise awareness and funds.