Understanding a Photobook: Paragon Book Gallery | PHOTOFAIRS

Understanding a Photobook: Paragon Book Gallery

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Founded in 1942 the Shanghai-based publisher Paragon has adapted over the past 80 years to secure its place at the cutting edge of the publishing world. Believing the photobook is the mode of expression to ensure a particular artwork becomes something more, the reputable publishers tell us more.  

The term ‘photobook’ is recent. What is your definition of a photobook? 
 
A photobook is a collection and presentation of the results of a photographer's work of transforming the fleeting things of everyday life into images and the background of these images into a physical medium that can be preserved and disseminated. It can be easily multiplied as needed and kept for a long time, which allows it to be enjoyed at any time and any place.

What is it about the book form that is particularly appealing to you?
 
With the development of photographic technology and evolving social needs, photography has become a special "language" for expression, along with major changes in people's demand and reliance on it. 
 
Spanning across a wide range of content, photography expresses and documents evolution of the physical world, nature and life in a more realistic and intuitive way. Photobooks can play a role in preserving such states for a long time to come. We need to disseminate the completed photos by means of photobooks.

What makes a photobook work? 
 
With their unique visual language, photobooks can directly attract and stimulate people’s visual senses, allowing readers to grasp the content without having to read long paragraphs. Photobooks can come in a variety of forms, in a combination of images and words for example, to allow people to receive more information than just the visual cues.

Please share your tips on how to 'read' a photobook? What and where should the viewer pay attention to?

Besides enjoying the images, we should also pay attention to the events and things behind them, the narrative, the intentions and issues that the photographer is trying to convey.

What's the one bit of advice you would give to artists looking to make a photobook?

The society today has entered the age of images, where almost no one can live without them. When we are presented with photos, the key is to understand what each image can do and when we collect them into a photobook what narrative it may form and what thoughts it may convey beyond the visual communication. The question is how to use the photobook to recreate and re-express the artwork and let it become something more.

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