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Interview with Rafal Milach, author of Black Sea of Concrete

Grand Prize Winner, Photography.Book.Now 2009


Black Sea of Concrete

What is the background on this story?

Black Sea of Concrete is a part of group project shot by eight photographers from the Sputnik Photos collective. We were assigned by a Belgium-based NGO, Altemus, to photograph contemporary Ukraine. In December 2008 I started my trip at the Russian–Ukrainian border and the Ukrainian Black Sea coast. The beauty of the landscape side-by-side with overwhelming and omnipresent Soviet architecture struck me. I wanted to shoot the story in wintertime when the tourists are gone and the landscapes are raw and empty.

Five years have passed since the "Orange Revolution" — when Ukraine gained independence from Russian influence — and I found people have already lost the hope for change. The coast showed me how strongly Ukraine is attached to its Soviet past.

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How long have you been photographing?

I’ve been in photography for more than 10 years. I didn’t get my first camera at the age of five... It was a lucky coincidence that I got involved in photography. I’d been studying at the Academy of Fine Arts and wanted to become a graphic designer. At the Academy I met one of the best Polish documentary photographers, Piotr Szymon, who taught me how to approach people and how to frame the real world. It opened my eyes to what was going on around me.

How do you usually work?

In my daily work I shoot with digital SLR cameras. I shoot all of my personal projects on film with medium or large format cameras. They make me quiet and think twice about what I want to shoot.

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How did you react when you heard you had won the Photography.Book.Now competition?

I’m really happy that the Black Sea of Concrete story was awarded the Grand Prize. I love photography books because they respect photography and give them proper exposure. Books force you to spend time with them, which I like. In addition they are the real objects you can touch and relate to.




Interview with Kurt Tong, author of People's Park

Category Winner, Editorial — Photography.Book.Now 2009



People's Park

Kurt, give us a little background on the People’s Park work.

Looking through my family photographs, apart from the customary family portraits in front of Christmas trees and behind birthday cakes, most of the photos were taken during day trips out at various parks. I vividly recall these parks. The penguin bins, the bumper cars, the trains and the ice cream stalls are so clear in my mind: these are the little snippets that make up my childhood.

Inspired by my family snapshots, the photographs in this project explore recreational spaces found in China. In 1958, when private ownership was banned, many existing parks were renovated and new parks were built all across China. Over the years, they became main focal points of cities, where families had outings and couples met.

China is changing at a staggering pace. Shopping and the Internet have replaced bumper cars and Ferris wheels. With disuse, many of the People’s Parks have fallen into disarray. I wanted to capture these spaces in China before they disappear.

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How did you get started?

I have been into photography since I was a young teenager but I got into it again seriously when I was working for various NGOs in India. I was getting enough work so I decided to become a full time photographer. After a few years, I found myself almost on autopilot when I was shooting and I wanted to expand my knowledge of photography beyond what I was familiar with. So I did an MA in documentary photography at the London College of Communications in 2006.

How do you usually work?

For personal projects, I mainly shoot with a large format camera as I just love the process and working methods involved in making images with this format.

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How do you feel about being selected a winner of the PBN Competition?

Having these highly respected and experienced judges pick me as the category winner really confirms that I am on the right track. It has given me enormous an confidence boost to continue to the next project.




Interview with Joshua Deaner, author of i sell fish.

Category Winner, Fine Art — Photography.Book.Now 2009



i sell fish.

What’s the back-story on your book; how’d you get started?

I decided to make the book i sell fish as a way of reorganizing and reevaluating the work I have created so far. I have had many ideas and projects, which never seemed realized. Perhaps this collection of images and writings is a recreation of a moment from a crazed dream!?

The journey begins with my birth and chronologically brings the reader to the present. Over the course of 350 pages, this book became a form of closure for me, a self-examination of sorts. As described on the cover of i sell fish it includes various findings, images, formulas, memories, desires, poems, obsessions, and lies. This book is a glimpse into my world.

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Why was this work important to you?

I am always curious of the passage of time. This project became a visual record of who I am and where I am going as an artist. These “feelings” will survive longer than me and can hopefully be shared in the future.

How long have you been in photography?

I started taking photography classes in high school and enjoyed watching my brother work in the darkroom at home. At that time I got my “education” from the bookshelf at a local bookstore. This piqued my interest and led me to the study of photography at RIT. Fifteen years later I am still in search of mystery and dreams.

Why’d you get involved?

As a therapeutic way to express my ideas, wishes, and desires.

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What do you prefer to shoot with?

I am less concerned with the actual camera but more with the tones and feel of the images and objects. In these pages I have used everything from an 8 x 10 camera, Polaroid camera, video camera, digital camera, photocopier, found letters, and even a point and shoot camera.

What's your reaction to being selected a winner of the PBN Competition?

It is scary and difficult when making such personal work and putting it out there. You never know how it will be received. I am thrilled by this recognition and excited to share my imagery with a larger audience. I have been smiling for days.




Interview with Dennis Kleiman, author of Volume One

Category Winner, Commercial — Photography.Book.Now 2009



Volume One

Why did you decide to make this book?

I’ve always carried around a Polaroid scrapbook, which is just what it sounds like — a bunch of Polaroids taped into a book. This book always got a great response, because it wasn’t so “precious” as the big 11x14 portfolio. It was small (about 7x10), and had all my handwritten notes about each job in it. These books would eventually fall apart, and there was really no way to duplicate them. Plus, they were one of a kind.

With Blurb, I was finally able to capture the essence of the book. By designing some pages to have multiple photos, using outtakes from jobs, and by scanning my handwriting, I basically was able to recreate the “>feel” of my old books. And of course, now I’m able to have as many Blurb books as I do portfolios.

And in some ways the Blurb book surpasses the one-of-a-kind feeling that the Polaroid books have. I was able to really design each page, and I wasn’t limited to the actual size of a Polaroid. So some pages have full bleeds, and others have a few smaller shots per page. The title Volume One is kind of tongue in cheek. I thought it sounded sufficiently weighty and lent a certain false legitimacy to the work. I mean, c’mon: it’s just fun pictures of musicians. I thought about having a sub-heading that read, “An incomplete compendium of A-list musicians by a B-list photographer.” Perhaps the next printing will bear that title.

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How did you get started in photography?

I’ve been a working photographer for about ten years, and before that I assisted. I got started because I couldn’t get a job in journalism after graduating from college.

I was always into music, so I started sneaking my camera into small shows, and trying to shoot band portraits. I linked up with a friend who ran a small music magazine, and shot for free while assisting.

How do you usually work?

I still prefer to shoot what some old-timers like myself refer to as film. Most of my clients prefer digital, so I’ll shoot film on my own projects. And I’m not much of a gear-head: I like using my Hasselblad that was given to me by my great-uncle, who used it to shoot weddings in the ’60s and ’70s. I also do most personal work with a 4x5. Digitally, I’m using Canon.

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What was your reaction when you heard you won?

I’m absolutely thrilled and kind of shocked that my work stood out among so many strong entries, and I’m honored that some of the heavy hitters in the industry gave my book the thumbs up.

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