dinsdag 10 augustus 2010

Roots of the Runtur by Rob Hornstra Photography


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Bucking The Trend: Rob Hornstra Finds Success Publishing Photo Books

by JOHNNY SIMON on MAY 17, 2010 · 

Rob Hornstra at NYPH
Go to a meet-up of photographers anywhere in the world and you’ll likely hear a similar refrain: Print is dead.  Photographers are so convinced that the practice and business of printing photos on paper, be it for a newspaper, magazine or book, is so obsolete, that few even see themselves as just still photographers.  But at the New York Photo Festival this weekend, some photographers, with their feet firmly planted, refused to let go of their beloved photo books and shared how you can do it to.
Dutch photographer Rob Hornstra, a veritable wunderkind of the Dutch photography scene, has been making high quality, limited edition photo books of his documentary photo projects since his art school days only 5 years ago.  His first publication, Communism & Cowgirls, documents the decline of the traditional Soviet lifestyle and the Westernization of Russia.  Throughout the weekend, he exhibited his work alongside other Dutch documentary photographers in the DutchDoc!Space satellite exhibition in the Galapagos Art Space in Dumbo.
The Dutch photographers shared a similar analog ethos as well as an enthusiasm for doing work that is extremely personal to them, and important for the public to appreciate.  But most important about the Dutch photographers was their DIY sensibility that told photographers not to wait for editors and publishers to find their work but to go out there and make it themselves.

Hornstra's "Roots of the Rúntur"
Hornstra, who headlined the second installment of their three part DIY workshop, spoke about the financing and the marketing of photo books, and how feasible it still is for photographers.  Though he believes the market is small and compact, there is always room for a book if it is of high quality content and materials.  A believer in “slow journalism,” Hornstra feels the photo book still holds a unique place for telling stories.  As his Dutch colleague Petra Stavast said in the first part of the DIY series, a photo book allows the photographer to direct the storyline, as the whole piece cannot be quickly viewed at once, as opposed to an online gallery of images.
Though the photo book is Hornstra’s preferred medium, he made no effort in downplaying its seemingly prohibitive costs.  The first edition of Communism & Cowgirlscost roughly €7,000 for its first run.  Hornstra raised much of the initial funds by pre-selling his books and guaranteeing his initial benefactors credit in his book.  The first people who helped fund this project were accumulated into a list and received the earliest news of his recent projects.  Soon, as Hornstra’s popularity grew, his small list of dedicated fans grew into something sought after, and increased the demand of his books. Communism & Cowgirls was originally printed in a limited edition of 250 books.  His next project, Roots of the Rúntur, was a limited edition of 500.  His 2007 book, 101 Billionaires, was an edition of 1000.  In a time of a diminishing print industry, Hornstra has found exponential success in a dying medium.

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