Some Thoughts from Stanley Barker
"The only criteria we use to determine what we publish is that the work has to be excellent."
What motivated you to set yourself/ves up as a publisher?
We both studied photography at University and had both gone on to work for a print on demand publishing company, where we met. Most of our conversations whilst working together revolved around books and art and eventually lead to us discussing setting up our own publishing company. In 2014 we saw Tod Papageorge's 'Studio 54' on display at Paris Photo, Thomas Zander was showing the work and we loved it, so we approached Tod and a book was created. We then went onto work with Bill Henson, Larry Fink, Karen Knorr, Stephen Shore...[caption id="attachment_23" align="alignnone" width="652"] People in Cars by Mike Mandel[/caption]
What are you looking for in a book you are considering publishing? How much is it a matter of your taste/enthusiasm and how much does it depend on the marketplace?
The only criteria we use to determine what we publish is that the work has to be excellent. If something is truly great then there will be an audience there. Once we have found a project we then do think about the best ways to bring it to the right audiences, to make sure it has the best chance of being successful.[caption id="attachment_49" align="aligncenter" width="1201"] Women's Market by Tom Wood[/caption]
What do you try to do that is different from what a mainstream art book publisher is trying to achieve?
There are similarities in what we are doing and how we work, but whereas a mainstream book publisher might look at their profit from each title at the expense of the quality of the product, our focus is on creating a unique product, using quality materials and print techniques that embody the work, so each of our books look and feels special.[caption id="attachment_50" align="aligncenter" width="314"] Novokuznetsk by Nikolay Bakharev[/caption]
What do you know now that you most wish you'd known before you started?
I think we both wish we’d undergone some kind of business degree before starting! We started from a passion for books and photography, and although Gregory has over 10 years experience within the photography sector working for a photography magazine, and I was Head of PR and Marketing for brands such as Leica and Prestel publishing, we still have had to learn some of the business elements along the way.
You started your own publishing enterprise at a time when digital and social media is transforming the landscape for photography. What do you feel is the distinctive contribution that books continue to make to the development of the medium?
A good photography book is something you can spend time with, and that can enrich your life. We see digital and social media as a supporting element, allowing the photographer and publisher to tell audiences about the work with the aim of getting the physical copy of the book in peoples hands for them to really enjoy. You can’t enjoy a post on Instagram in the same way as holding a copy of a book you love.[caption id="attachment_51" align="aligncenter" width="1130"] Belgravia by Karen Knorr[/caption]
Which other publishers do you follow with most interest?
Editions Xavier Barral and TBW are both making really interesting books at the moment.
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?
A Criminal Investigation by Watabe Yukichi, Passing Through Eden by Tod Papageorge and Hotel Oracle by Jason Fulford are books that we go back to most. They all combine expertly crafted images with a deep understanding of the effect that sequence and narrative can have on images. Stephen Gill’s Night Procession which was released at the end of last year was also a revelation.
The books published by Scalo in the early 2000’s were wonderful. Walter Keller seemed fearless in his choice of artist like Bill Henson, who we have been fortunate enough to collaborate with over the past five years.
[caption id="attachment_53" align="aligncenter" width="222"] Night Procession by Stephen Gill[/caption]
What new titles or initiatives can we look forward to from you over the next year or two?
We are currently working with a selection of amazing photographers - Christopher Anderson, Mona Kuhn, Esther Teichmann, Tom Wood, Mark Steinmetz and Thomas Boivin, who approached us during Offprint last year with a wonderful body of work on Paris.[caption id="attachment_54" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Bushes and Succulents by Mona Kuhn[/caption]
More generally, what are your hopes and fears for the future of photobooks?
We hope people continue to collect and love photography books.