O L I V I A   S T R E T T L E


Workshop: Matt Johnston
Saturday 19th March 2022

Yesterday on the 18th March, I attended an in-person workshop at university with Matt Johnston. It was a small, optional session in order to understand more about the photobook and its production, as well as taking a look at some examples Matt had brought in to share. 

Matt Johnston is a photobook specialist and writer as well as the assistant professor in photography at the School of Media and Performing Arts at Coventry University. Based on his website, over the last 10 years, he has been spending time reseraching around the contemporary photobook, post-millenium. 

The session began prompty by Johnston giving us a brief introduction into his career and where his love for the photobook came from. It was really interesting to hear about a topic that I already am passionate about myself and be able to speak with someone sharing that same interest with a lot of knowledge around the subject. The session was very hands on by us gathering around a table to pass around photobooks he had brought in. We could all get a feel for the physical books and gain inspiration for our own current work. We were asked to predict the price ranges for the books from £300 to free. It was a fun, interactive activity that shocked many of us as we wouldn’t have necessarily put those high price tags on certain books due to their size, weight and context. The session was very interactive and allowed for us to take the time of spreading out books and passing them around - each getting a feel for the pages. It made me consider how I would like my photobook to be experienced, whether that is in an enclosed sleeve to be unveiled, secured in a cardboard cover like ‘Postcards From America’ (which we looked at in the session) or perhaps keeping it simple and ambiguous. 

After we had discussed many areas of the photobook, we had the option to speak one on one with Matt for some feedback on our own dummy books we had each brought with us. I jumped at this opportunity as my work being viewed by new eyes, only leads to new and improved feedback from a different perspecitve.

Some of the comments I recieved from Matt include:
- Consider collaborating with a writer for small lines of text within the book
- The hand binding works well with a project so personal and calm
- Displaying it in a case, sleeve or even tied shut will strengthen that personal/enclosed emotion

Overall, the session was extremely beneficial to not only my current area of study but also with future projects and careers involving production and publishing. I am glad I attented the talk due to it sparking new ideas and giving me the motivation to explore new ways of displaying/curating my book. It also helps with networking and meeting new people within the industry.

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Find out more - https://www.mjohnstonphotography.co.uk




               Images taken during the session