The Intent (From Brad)
I have been enthralled with the photobook medium since the late 90s. I do not see the photobook as a simple vessel for photography. I see it as a medium that can be understood as the final message. The book suits me as a medium, and I know my relation to the intimacy of art, politics, and life through the medium of the photobook in a way that differs from exhibitions, for example. There is a power in photobooks that is not easily replicated, and I want to champion that in as wide of a way as possible.
The past decade has seen a tremendous boom in the production of photobooks, as illustrated recently in Clément Chéroux's Aperture's Photobook Review. This boom points to institutions beginning to take the photobook as a profound medium, and I believe that we are entering into a new (post-pandemic) second wave of interest. I think that there will be a retrenching of the market in this climate and that we will begin to re-examine edition size as well as cost, audience, and participation within the medium. There will be challenges. Paper supplies are going through some fluctuation regarding shortages that will inevitably slow production and raise costs. At the same time, there are more and more ways to print books in smaller runs that may prove realistic to the size of the market.
There continue to be exceptional publishing houses and self-publishing ventures that add new layers to the book and produce superior thought-provoking material. We should also critique how the culture of the photobook, with its events, awards, talking heads, fairs, etc., complicates, praises, or obfuscates more significant issues defined by the pursuit of producing books and culture. There are relevant discussions regarding portfolio reviews, criticism, and inclusion that merit further conversation. All of these topics will be explored during the course.
We have invited over 50 artists, designers, writers, and publishers to lead our inaugural Nearest Truth year-long photobook course. The course aims to walk participants through making a photobook over one year. We believe that every step of the process should be considered with a heavy emphasis on the beginning of the bookmaking process, which concerns concept, research, project scope, text, archival material, and the more significant questions posed as to how we perceive the photobook, its content, form, and audience.
Far from being a general workshop in which only the technical mechanics of production are discussed on a one-off meeting, we will emphasize what makes a great photobook through historical analysis and tutorials by leading professionals over a year. There will be a heavy emphasis in the first quarter of the workshop from artists explaining their work and approach to books.
How Does It Work?
As we want to engage with as many people as possible, we have opted to create three program variations that will overlap between Zoom courses, private mentoring, and physical workshops. There will be three options that will hopefully suit individual needs. The physical workshops will be limited to 26 seats. They will include access to the Zoom courses, a one-to-one1.5 hour private mentorship meeting with Brad Feuerhelm each month, and attendance at the physical meetups in Germany, Turkey, and Greece (read below for details). The Zoom courses will be available to these 26 participants and up to 60 more Zoom-only participants. The final variation on the course will be an option for Zoom-only participants (limited to 10) to opt for the Zoom-only course with an additional 1.5-hour private mentorship session with Brad.
General Admission: The Zoom Component
We will allow up to 60 students for our Zoom course in addition to our 26 physical workshop participants. We will add ten seats for the Zoom/Private Mentorship participants. We reserve the right to increase the Zoom-only participants should that need (doubtfully) arise. We have already confirmed over 70 hours of Zoom courses with professionally relevant artists, publishers, writers, and bookmakers to lead classes relating to the medium by showing examples from their work and speaking directly about how they see their role with the book itself. These courses will feature a monthly meeting of up to 4 (1.5-2 hour) sessions with top industry artists, publishers, designers, writers, and makers. These will mostly be live and take place on the last Sunday of each month. There will be a few tutorials that will be pre-taped. Questions will be allowed, but they will be considered by the admin only and issued as such to each speaker at the end of the lecture. The Zoom course will not offer feedback on your work. The cost for this course is less than the physical workshop and mentorship components as it takes place online only and is lecture-based, and is less interactive.
The Zoom Component with Private Mentorship
This component functions similarly to the Zoom-only course. Up to 10 participants will be given the same access to the Zoom-only course and a 1.5-hour mentorship session with Brad Feuerhelm per month. This module is meant to provide access to the lectures and offer a small feedback loop over the year to get general reflections regarding work in progress related to books. This is suggested for individuals leading up to producing work down the road and who are not ready for the entire course. It is also a course that would be helpful to individuals who have some experience in producing books but want more insight and direct feedback as they seek to make new work. It is a flexible course and accommodating.
The Limited Physical Workshop
Participants joining the physical workshop will be given a monthly 1.5 hour tutorial with Brad Feuerhelm from Nearest Truth in addition to the physical workshops and Zoom-only sessions. This component is limited to 26 seats and will be reserved as first come, first serve. The participants (up to 26) who apply and are accepted to the physical workshops will meet three times in person throughout 2022-2023. Two of these physical workshops are themed related to the parts of bookmaking that present the most need to be held physically and will be outlined below. Each of these meetups will occur in Germany, Turkey, and Greece in that order. The final meeting will be related to a symposium on the photobook in which participants will present their work to publishers directly in Athens.
1) Neu Ulm, Germany, September 2022. A 5-day physical workshop on sequencing and editing. The workshop will be led by Laia Abril, Alejandro Cartagena, Bieke Depoorter, and Christian Patterson. Brad Feuerhelm from Nearest Truth will also be working with the team on editing and sequencing. The workshop will take place on university grounds in Neu Ulm. Participants may shoot in Germany, but the focus will be considering sequence, editing, and possible book designs that will best accommodate your project. We will work on the university's premises and will have access to printing and projecting equipment as well as fully outfitted classrooms
2) Istanbul, Turkey. January 2023 5-day Production and Printing Management course with Nelson Chan and Melike Tascioglu. This chapter will give participants complete exposure to the physical production of books. At this point of the course, which is the halfway mark, participants will be preparing their work for pitching, self-publishing, etc. This is the most hands-on and technical consideration for the course. Istanbul is one of the capitals of photobook printing presently. We will be working directly with a printing house for this workshop. Nelson and Melike will lead the group through file preparation, InDesign, color correction, production, and all of the technical work needed to secure the correct printing for your book. They will go through all associated procedures. We will visit and work with local printing houses.
3) Athens, Greece, Late April, Early May 2023. Pitching to Publishers. We have invited eight well-known and respected publishers to come to Athens for a long weekend. Participants who have signed up for the physical workshops will have the opportunity to learn directly from the publishers and what they look for in submissions and will be given a presentation from each publishing house. On the second day, participants will pitch their work to these same publishers, who will provide them with written feedback on their work. It will be a rare access point for the physical attendees to PITCH THEIR PROJECTS DIRECTLY TO THESE PHOTOBOOK PUBLISHERS IN PERSON.
What We Will Cover During the Course
The course will be divided into segments. The first portion of the course for both Zoom and physical workshop participants will focus on intention, conceptual beginnings, research, the use of archival material, and text.
The second portion of the course will focus on design and will be geared to continuing your work and making decisions about the physicality of the book and who your audience will be. Participants will be given access to several well-placed designers who will run tutorials and speak about their process.
The third and following segment of the course will continue to think about editing, layout, and sequencing. It will be led by several professionals whose work indicates a deep knowledge reflecting the topic. There will be a continued concentration on existing material, and we will discuss strategies, outcomes, readability, and strategies of fine-tuning work to accommodate the form of the book.
The final portion of the course will concentrate on production, printing, binding, distribution, pitching, press, text, and strategies from self-publishing to crowdfunding. This portion of the course will focus on practical matters and how best to get your book visible. We will discuss awards, reviews, etc., with professionals who have been through the process and who can shed light on the best approach to avoiding pitfalls once your book is produced. We will be joined by professionals on the publishing side for this.
There will be a heavy emphasis on zoom meetings during this course. The last Sunday of each month will be scheduled as our day of meeting on Zoom. I will run an extensive course of up to 4 different lectures per Sunday. We will amend some holiday schedules by stacking lectures on the Sundays prior to or following a holiday with extra tutorials. These days will not be flexible and will be locked in. If you cannot make the day, you will not have the opportunity to see the course. The classes will be recorded but will not be made available directly. We will do our best to accommodate the viewing of these classes later. Part of this has to do with our contractual obligations to our instructors.
COURSE BEGINS SUNDAY MAY 1, 2022
Price for Zoom Only General Admission
Over 70 hours of Zoom tutorial, 60 Seats available
Early Bird 1100 Euros
Ends March 1, 2022, Payable March 1
Thereafter 1400 Euros Payable in Two Instalments
Payment 1 of 900 Euros Payable March 1
Payment 2 of 500 Euros Due September 30
Price for Zoom General Admission AND 1.5 Hour Monthly Mentoring Session with Brad Feuerhelm
Over 70 hours of Zoom tutorial, 1.5 Hour Monthly Mentorship Session,10 Seats available
Early Bird 1550 Euros
Ends March 1, 2022, Payable March 1
Thereafter 1850 Euros Payable in Two Instalments
Payment 1 of 1250 Euros Payable March 1
Payment 2 of 600 Euros Due September 30
Price for Zoom, 1.5 Hour Private Mentoring Session, and Physical Workshops
All 70+ Zoom Hours, 1.5 Hour Monthly Mentorship with Brad Feuerhelm, and 3 Physical Workshops in Germany, Turkey, and Greece, 26 Seats Available (MAX)
Early Bird 3350 Euros
Ends March 1, 2022, Payable Immediately
Thereafter 3950 Euros Payable in Two Instalments
Payment 1 of 2750 Euros Payable March 1
Payment 2 of 1200 Euros Due September 30
*Please note that this price does not include flights, hotels, or food at physical workshops.
Payments will be due upon acceptance for early bird seats and by March 1 for all other participants. If we do NOT sell the necessary amount of workshop seats, all monies will be returned immediately. We will announce the confirmation of the workshop by the end of March/beginning of April, at which point we will go forward, or refund all purchased seats. The reason for this is to ensure that early bird seats and regular confirmations of seats are sincere and that there are no pull-outs or backtracking close to the final date. As there are many moving parts to this workshop with a hefty outgoing of economic activity, it is crucial that those who sign up commit fully. In alignment with this, refunds are not possible, BUT we will do everything in our power to sell your seat forward and remit this fee to you if you cannot attend for practical reasons.
Please understand that we want to be as transparent as possible and that we wish to avoid any problems on either end of the economic transaction for the program. We expect our participants to be all in so that we can deliver the best program possible without being mired in complications arising from refunds etc. Suppose the physical workshops are complicated by pandemics etc. In that case, we reserve the right to move those dates for the physical workshop forward or to offer similar experiences via Zoom, etc., with the instructors outlined in the program. The program is designed in such a way as to prohibit these problems to the best of our ability.
List of confirmed names involved in the program (STC) at the time of this post on December 17
Jack Whitefield, Bryan Schutmaat, Geert Goiris, Vasantha Yogananthan, Cécile Poimboeuf-Koizumi, Mark McKnight, Paul Guilmoth, Hannah Darabi, Amak Mahmoodian, David Campany, Verônica Freiras, Jack Latham, Ben Brody, Tania Franco Klein, Juan Brenner, André Príncipe, Kim Beil, Odette England, Alys Tomlinson, Chloe Dewe-Mathews, Michael Ashkin, Martin Amis, Lola Poprocka, Lina Scheynius, Anouk Kruithof, Koenning/Protick, Calin Kruse, Urs Stahel, João Linneu, Judith Black, Katja Stuke, Gloria Oyarzabal, Jo Ractliffe, Christian Patterson, Simon Baker, Alejandro Cartagena, Sophie-Charlotte Opitz, Stefano Stoll, Ahndraya Parlato, Klaus Pichler, Valeria Cherchi, Martina Hoogland Ivavnow, Federico Clavarino, Raymond Meeks, Matilde Søes Rasmussen, Mark Power, Yoshi Kametani, Lisa Barnard, Maja Daniels, Alan Huck, Jermaine Francis, Katja Stuke, Tereza Zelenkova, Tine Guns, Max Pinckers, Sarah Boris, Jörg M. Colberg, Nelson Chan, Melike Tascioglu, Nicholas Polli, Hans Gremmen, Eleanor Macnair, Sunil Shah, Diane Smyth, José Pedro Cortes, Josef Chladek, Andreas Gehrke, Kenneth Dickerman, Fryd Frydendahl, Juan Orrantia, Emilie Lauriola…so far
Publishers Involved: VOID, FW: Books, Chose Commune, Loose Joints, Stanley/Barker, Hartmann Books, Trespasser, …so far
A note about diversity: We have made substantial efforts to enlist and include a wide range of diverse voices in this program. We have outreached to around 100+ individuals from around the world. We made a particular inquiry asking for more inclusion from the BIPOC and Asian community. Some of these voices responded positively to our call, while others could not. We realize that the list could benefit from greater diversity but would like to point out that concessions that may be unread in viewing the general program were tendered to a reasonable degree. As the program unfolds, we will continue to try and enlist more diverse voices. We can add as we go, particularly with the Zoom sessions, and will do so accordingly. This should be acknowledged lest our work is seen as antiquated, insensitive, or insincere. It is also vital to look at, dismantle, and deconstruct the industry to inquire about these more significant issues regarding the audience and production of the photobook medium. Respectful suggestions on this topic and any other are welcome if tendered sensibly.