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Digital Subscriptions > Antiques Trade Gazette > 2341 > Camera ready artwork

Camera ready artwork

The photobook genre is almost as old as photography itself and can be collected at all price points, as Bonhams’ Matthew Haley reports

Halfway between a photo album and a printed book lies the photobook.

In the age of Instagram, when almost a million images are shared across social media every minute, leafing contemplatively through a photobook allows for a deeper appreciation of the interaction of image and text. Yet this is a relatively young collecting field.

Whereas early photography itself began to receive serious curatorial and collecting attention in the 1950s and ‘60s, photobooks – published in multiple identical copies with an imprint and letterpress text – had to wait until the 1980s to come under the microscope of academics such as Helmut Gernsheim, Lucien Goldschmidt and Weston J Naef.

Thirty years on and discoveries are still being made, scholarly work is still being done and it remains a fruitful area for collectors to forage.

The term ‘photobook’ is a wide-ranging one: the photo historians Martin Parr and Gerry Badger describe it as “a book – with or without text – where the work’s primary message is carried in photographs”.

The Victorian era

However, the focus here is on books which have original photographs pasted in – a format which began in the 1840s and had largely tailed off by the last quarter of the 19th century.

In fact, the photographic print, the photo album and the photobook were triplets, emerging into the world at the same moment.

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About Antiques Trade Gazette

Published every week since 1971, Antiques Trade Gazette is affectionately known as ‘the Bible of the antiques trade’. A long tradition of authority, integrity and accuracy, makes it the essential read for everyone who loves antiques. With a subscription to Antiques Trade Gazette, you’ll stay ahead of all the developments in the art and antiques market, plus you’ll enjoy • A comprehensive auction calendar – see when and where every sale will be happening • Exclusive interviews with dealers, giving you the inside track on the trade • Breaking news on key industry developments • Secrets, stories and tips from leading specialists and collectors • Top lots advertised by auctioneers • Previews of the best art and antiques fairs and markets • Special supplements focusing on specific collecting areas

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