Producing A Book with Steidl

Steidl are perhaps one of the best known, and most respected publishers of photo books. Gerhard Steidl started working as a designer and printer in 1967. He soon built up a reputable clientele and the first Steidl book was published in 1972. Watching a film about how the company produces these books was fascinating. I didn’t realise just how involved in the process the photographer is, and how much Steidl is able to express his opinion to the photographer; if he doesn’t like an idea or where the photographer wants the book to go, he will say so and sometimes in very crude terms. He is constantly adjusting the colours of the photographs, and flying all over the world to show photographers prototypes of what their books can look like. The most important thing to Gerhard Steidl and the photographer is the quality of the book and this was very evident in the film that we watched today. In the film we saw a lot of Joel Sternfeld making a book – from showing Steidl how many photos he wanted in the book, to saying how he wanted the images to look like they did on his iPhone screen when he was taking them, to adjusting the colours on the test prints.  I recognised this photographer’s name but I had never seen any of his work before so I was interested to see what his photographs would look like once he had decided on how his book would look. To be honest, I found the style of the documentary quite boring but the subject matter was very interesting to me. The production of books is something that we don’t really know much about, unless you work in that industry so it was an insight into something that I didn’t know that I was ignorant about.

More information about Steidl can be found on their website:

The images are the main components of any photo book but words are just as important. In Image Text-Text Image it says “Text and image can complement one another, the text precisely specifying an event depicted in the image by naming it, for example. The text may just as easily work against the message of the image.” I think that this is something important to remember and something that was emphasised a lot in the documentary. The words and images have suit each other, otherwise they work against each other.


Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now

It’s not often that I visit an exhibition that makes me cry. Often I find that I have no emotional connection to photographs and I like them from a purely aesthetic standpoint. But this exhibition was different. As soon as I stepped through the door to the exhibition in Somerset house I could feel emotion pouring out of the photographs. The genocide in Rwanda happened the year before I was born so I knew nothing about it. The first time I visited this show I felt like I was missing something so I went and did a bit more research about it, and I think that helped me connect to the photographs more this time. The photographs themselves are full of colour, even when depicting something less than pleasant and the photographers showed their love for this torn country through their images. Most of them have never had any formal training, yet they are some of the best photographs I have seen. Perhaps not technically the best, but I connected to them so much more than any other photograph I have seen. Some of the photographs were filled with such despair and hopelessness, whereas others contained hope and happiness. I thought that the variety in the way of presenting the photographs was excellent and kept the exhibition from feeling monotonous and samey. IMAG1693 IMAG1688 IMAG1697 IMAG1713 IMAG1720 IMAG1722 IMAG1727 IMAG1746 IMAG1748


Photographers with work in Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now:

Andrew Esiebo
Brendan Bannon
Jenny Matthews
Timothy Chester
Claudia Ingabire
John Mbanda
Cyril Ndegeya
Jean Luc Habyarimana
Yves Manzi
Fabrice Musafiri
Jacqueline Rutagarama
George Baryamwisaki
Jean Bizimana