I recently had a great opportunity to share my love of photobooks with some like-minded souls at the first Photobook Club London event.
I'd discovered the club earlier this year and was particularly taken by a project that the force behind it, Matt Johnston, had initiated based on a book that had really fired my imagination back in my New York days, Invisible City by Ken Schles. Matt and Ken created a "digital resource" effectively enhancing the experience of the original work with interviews and notes. A real treasure.
OK back to the event. The Photobook Club idea has spread far and wide around the world. Formats range from Bring Your Own Book, sharing its personal significance, or more formally discussing a "book of the month". I'm pleased to report the first London meet-up took neither course.
Hosted at the marvellous Ti Pi Tin space in East London we were able to spend time perusing the photobooks on display and pick one, or more, off the shelf that took our fancy to discuss with everyone else. The choice is intriguingly diverse. Japanese miniatures bound by silken threads, idiosyncratic self-published pamphlets, heavyweight tomes from the major publishers all vied for my attention.
Between chatting to the other attendees my attention was caught by a navy blue cloth-bound book. The subtly embossed cover listed names, like a roll call of lost souls. Inside I found a collection of portraits, consciously stylish, but for me at least with a more personal, deeper connection. The mood had an elegiac quality, informed both by the title, Nothing Lasts Forever, and the subject itself, the transition from youth to something, somewhere else. I had no knowledge of the photographer, Tyler Lebone, or of the book beforehand so when I came to discuss it with the group it was wonderful that someone could tell me yes it was a fashion photographer's study of his friends and, in addition, they were from South London, place of my roots. OK not so challenging but a great way of broadening my usual diet of monochrome urban grit. Not so good for digestion.
Anyway around the table we became gradually more confident to express and discuss our thoughts. I'd like to think it was very much in the spirit of the Photobook Club idea. Everyone had something to contribute. Everyone came away a little richer. Can't wait for the next one.