Open International Photobook Exhibition 2016

If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of entering some of your photography into an exhibition, then this is the perfect opportunity. The Royal Photographic Society is holding a new photobook exhibition, open to photographers of all abilities, so we sat down with RPS member, Brian Steptoe, for some insider details.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a long-serving member of the Royal Photographic Society. I was awarded their Fellowship distinction in 1988 and Fenton Medal in 2007. I am lead member of a small team organising this photobook exhibition for the Society. It follows a pilot exhibition held in 2014 and will be the first open to all.

For those that don’t know, what is the Royal Photographic Society and how did it come about?
The Society was founded in 1853, soon after the invention of photography. There are now over 11,000 members across the UK and Overseas, both amateurs and professionals. The Society has a wide range of activities, among which is an annual print exhibition, open to all, not just to members. This had its 158th exhibition this year.
You’re currently working on a new photobook exhibition for the RPS that anyone can enter. Why did you choose photobooks over any other medium?

Interest in photobooks as a method of presentation of work has risen exponentially since 2000, encouraged by the publication in 2004 of The Photobook: a History, the first of now three volumes, by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger.

What was the inspiration behind the exhibition concept?
Annual exhibitions of photobooks are now held in Europe at Arles and Paris in France, at Kassel in Germany and in Vienna among many others. The Kassel exhibition is shown in other cities around Europe. The Paris exhibition is shown in New York and Los Angeles. There hasn’t yet been any similar photobook exhibition held in the UK and setting one up to complement the RPS Print exhibition is timely. The guidelines for submissions for the Society photobook exhibition are based on those of these established exhibitions.

There are three selectors that will choose which 20 photobooks make the short-list—David Campany, Lucy Kumara Moore and Dewi Lewis. What made you choose them?
These selectors all have wide experience of photobooks; each with different backgrounds. David Campany writes about and teaches photography at BA and MA level. He has published several photobooks, the most recent being The Open Road, published in 2014 by Aperture, New York. Lucy Kumara Moore is Director of Claire de Rouen Books in Charing Cross Road, London, who specialise in photobooks and fashion books. Dewi Lewis runs Dewi Lewis Publishing, founded in 1994 and well-known internationally as publishers of photobooks.

What do you think makes for a successful photobook entry?
It needs to have a theme or subject and have content with images that have been selected and sequenced to support this. It should not be just a collection of the author’s ‘best’ photographs. Text may be included if required.

How do you enter and what’s the deadline?
Full information and an entry form is online here. The submission deadline is 31 July 2016. The exhibition is announced now in order to give prospective entrants time to create their photobook, if they haven’t already made one previously. Books made since 1 Jan 2014 are acceptable, to ensure submissions are contemporary rather than long-past work (the date refers to the creation of the book; the content may or may not be of earlier date).

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