Authorship and the contemporary photo-book

Cook, David (2011) Authorship and the contemporary photo-book. In: Expanding Documentary: XIIIth Biennial Conference 2011, 7-9 December, 2011, Auckland, New Zealand.

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Whereas the film industry is well-endowed with a history of discussion around the collaborative nature of its practice, there is comparatively little written about the collaboration of disciplines involved in the production of photo-books. Publications are the products of complex interdisciplinary processes and negotiations. A range of image-makers, designers, writers, editors and publishers potentially have some claim in authorship. However, a survey of contemporary photo-books shows that the authorship of a text is conventionally associated with only the producers of images and words. The role and voice of the designer as a producer of meaning/text remains largely unaccounted for, apart from rare exceptions like Bruce Mau and Rem Koolhaus’s S,M,L,XL (1995). This paper discusses issues of authorship and collaboration by following the journey of a photographer, writer and graphic designer in the process of producing River Road: Journeys Through Ecolgogy, a photo-book published by Rim Books in 2011. This book takes an intimate look at New Zealand ecology from a bicultural perspective, opening up spaces for dialogue on ecological themes. Authors are David Cook (photography), Wiremu Puke (text) and Jonty Valentine (graphic design). In the construction the manuscript the three authors embark on a process of action research, actively reflecting on the dynamics of authorship throughout the project. They describe an on-going process of briefing, negotiation, brain-storming, reflecting, compromise and innovation. The authors draw on previous experiences in the media, and engage in dialogue with other publishing practitioners. This action research project takes an insider’s look into collaborative relationships in the creative and produciton phases of authoring a documentary photo-book. The paper questions some assumptions, and exposes some aspects of authorship that tend to be less explicit in conventional photo-books.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords that describe the item:Documentary, Authorship, Book, Designer, Photographer, Writer
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions:Schools > School of Media Arts
ID Code:1605
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Deposited On:19 Jan 2012 00:07
Last Modified:14 Jun 2012 23:21

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