Podcast: Aperture Publications and the Contemporary PhotoBook

Of course, there are several renowned photography book publishers, but if you know just one name in photo book publishing, it should be Aperture. Edward Weston, Diane Arbus, Stephen Shore, Sally Mann, Deana Lawson, and Martin Parr are just a few of the artists who have had at least one of their most significant books published by Aperture Publishing. Book publishing is just one of the ways that this non-profit organization, founded by Minor White and others, supports the art and craft of photography; they produce their quarterly magazine, host exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions, sponsor book and portfolio awards, and publish The PhotoBook Review and the Aperture blog.

On today’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we welcome Lesley Martin, Creative Director at Aperture and Publisher of The Photobook Review. Who better to speak about the process of photography-book publishing and, in general, the state of the photobook community today? With Martin, we discuss the important books from their 2019 catalog and how their editorial team decides which projects to publish each year, how large the runs will be and the costs associated with publishing in the US and abroad. We also examine what distinguishes Aperture—their non-profit status, the platform they create for artists, their collaborative philosophy, and the need to balance contemporary photo projects with compilation and themed photo books, classic editions and works about photography. We also ask about the impact of Amazon on their book trade and general questions on the current state of the photo-book business.

In the second half of our show, we discuss the recently announced winners of the Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards. This important award has three categories: Photography Catalogue of the Year, First PhotoBook of the Year, and Photobook of the Year. We ask about the criteria for judging in each category, about the subtle distinctions between a good photo series and a good photo book and clarify who can submit to the contest. Finally, we ask Martin about some of her personal dos and do nots when it comes creating your own photography book. This is a very enlightening conversation for those interested in creating a photobook and for anyone curious about what goes into running a successful editorial house.

Guest: Lesley Martin

“Brooklyn: The City Within” by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb
“Brooklyn: The City Within” by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb
“Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph” by Deana Lawson, Essay by Zadie Smith
“Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph” by Deana Lawson, Essay by Zadie Smith
“Immediate Family” by Sally Mann
“Immediate Family” by Sally Mann
“Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph” Fortieth-anniversary edition by Diane Arbus
“Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph” Fortieth-anniversary edition by Diane Arbus
“The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion” by Antwaun Sargent
“The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion” by Antwaun Sargent
“Walter Chandoha: The Cat Photographer,” Interviews by David La Spina and Brittany Hudak
“Walter Chandoha: The Cat Photographer,” Interviews by David La Spina and Brittany Hudak
“Border Cantos” by Richard Misrach
“Border Cantos” by Richard Misrach
Allan Weitz and Lesley Martin © John Harris
Allan Weitz and Lesley Martin © John Harris

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves

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