Interview with Iain Sarjeant
"I want to make exciting contemporary
photography accessible to as
wide an audience as possible."
What motivated you to set yourself up as a publisher?
Well, to be honest I never really set out to be a publisher! About 5 years ago I set up an online blog (and now IG feed too) called Another Place with the aim of showcasing photography projects that explore our relationship with ‘place’ – contemporary landscape photography in the widest sense. It was really just a place to share work that inspired me with a wider audience. AP grew in popularity quite quickly, gaining a large following and I began receiving many submissions. I found myself enjoying the role of curating content for the site. After a few years, I came up with the idea of developing Another Place as a small publisher as well – releasing a few of the projects as small limited edition photobooks. My background is in both photography and graphic design so it seemed a natural progression. And so Another Place Press was born…[caption id="attachment_64" align="aligncenter" width="555"] Out of the Ordinary vol. 2 by Iain Sarjeant[/caption]
What are you looking for in a possible publication? How much is it a matter of your taste/enthusiasm and how much does it depend on the marketplace?
I’m looking for cohesive projects, well thought through and executed. Of course personal taste does comes into any decision to publish – I need to feel the work resonates with me and inspires me. But I try to embrace a range of styles and subject matter.
In terms of marketplace, I don’t have much in the way of funds to work with, so each book needs to be economically viable. I do choose some projects or photographers that have a relatively high profile, that I know there will be an interest in. I try to use these titles to allow me to release more unknown work that I feel deserves a wider audience. It’s a balance. But all work is chosen initially on the strength of the work, and not it’s likelihood of commercial success.[caption id="attachment_57" align="aligncenter" width="483"] Gap in the Hedge by Dan Wood[/caption]
What do you try to do that is different from what a mainstream art book publisher is trying to achieve?
Key to what I am trying to do with Another Place Press is affordability – I want to make exciting contemporary photography accessible to as wide an audience as possible. While we might produce occasional larger books, I am committed to smaller titles.
We also operate a publishing model where photographers pay nothing towards production, and in fact receive royalties on every book sold. As a photographer myself I know how difficult it is to make a living, so I’m keen to find a way of collaborating that financially benefits both publisher and artist.
[caption id="attachment_58" align="aligncenter" width="700"] A Shaded Path by Elliott Verdier[/caption]
What do you know now that you most wish you'd known before you started?
How much time it would eat up! Although it wouldn’t have stopped me doing it! I love working closely with photographers to see their work in print. But it’s definitely a labour of love!
As a photographer myself, perhaps the most challenging aspect of publishing is the effect on my own personal work… it doesn’t leave much time for developing and working on new projects.[caption id="attachment_59" align="alignnone" width="700"] Out of the Ordinary vol. 1 by Iain Sarjeant (now sold out)[/caption]
You are a very active photographer yourself and publish your own projects as well as other people's. How – if at all – do you approach publishing your own work differently from other people's?
I didn’t set up APP as a vehicle for publishing my own photography – the idea was always to work with a range of photographers. But I had received numerous enquiries about whether my ‘Out of the Ordinary’ series was to be released in book form and I sensed there was definitely an audience for it. It seemed sensible to consider publishing it through APP.
In terms of the process – I try to keep the approach very similar to any of our book projects.
It's interesting that you started your own publishing enterprise at a time when social media is transforming the landscape for photography – and you yourself are very active there. What do you feel is the distinctive contribution that books continue to make to the development of the medium?
It’s true that social media is transforming the landscape for photography, but photography in printed form seems as popular as ever. Publishing is as accessible to photographers as it has ever been – it’s great to see so many small publishers like ourselves producing books, as well as a flourishing self-publishing scene.
In my view the book is the perfect medium for a cohesive body of photographic work. It allows the artist to present the work exactly how they wish it to be viewed. Sensitive design can add to, and enhance the work – making the book as an object an important part of the project and a work of art in itself. Preparing a body of work for publishing is also an incredibly useful process for the photographer - thinking about exactly how the images work together, what they are trying to say, and working with a designer to see that message realized. The editing & sequencing stage of any project is in my view as important as creating the work.[caption id="attachment_60" align="aligncenter" width="508"] TTP by Hayahisa Tomiyasu, published by Mack[/caption]
Which other publishers do you follow with most interest?
I keep a close eye on a wide range of publishers and enjoying following their new releases. Of course the well established publishers like Mack & Hatje Kanz consistently produce wonderful books, but often it’s the newer, smaller presses that interest me the most.
Publishers whose books I am particularly enjoying at the moment are Overlapse, The Velvet Cell, FW: Books, Tide Press, The Eriskay Connection and The Ice Plant.[gallery ids="19,45" type="rectangular"]
Which photobooks from the last couple of years have impressed you most? Looking further back, which earlier photobooks do you find yourself going back to for continuing inspiration?
Personal favourites from the last couple of years include ‘The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer’ by Amani Willett, ‘The New Village’ by John Spinks, ‘Rift/Fault’ by Marion Belanger and ‘The Transverse Path’ by Mike Slack. All combine wonderful photography & design.
In terms of classics, I constantly return to ‘American Prospects’ by Joel Sternfeld and ‘Uncommon Places’ by Stephen Shore. Simply wonderful observations. The work of Mark Power is also a great inspiration to me.[caption id="attachment_62" align="aligncenter" width="344"] Icebreaker by Mark Power[/caption]
What new titles or initiatives can we look forward to from you over the next year or two?
We’ve some fantastic new titles programmed in for the next 12 months including books by Brian David Stevens, Cody Cobb, Missie Prince, Marion Belanger and Amanda Harman.
We’re also looking into a couple of new initiatives but I can’t say too much about that just yet… watch this space!
More generally, what are your hopes and fears for the future of photobooks?
I think we’re going through a golden period of photobook publishing at the moment. Through the internet and social media it is possible to reach a wider audience than ever before. Despite fears, books are as popular as ever and many photographers see the photobook as the best way to present a body of work.
But the large range of photobooks now produced makes it difficult for publishers to sell enough copies of each title to make them financially viable – so finding ways to reach audiences outside the photography & photobook collecting community remains an important challenge going forward.[caption id="attachment_63" align="alignnone" width="700"] Out of the Ordinary by Iain Sarjeant vol. 1 (now sold out)[/caption]