David Gray delivered a talk on why he chose to be a self-publisher, and the challenges he encountered. The talk was given in two parts – relating to the two differing perspectives he had to adopt for this process: as the photographer, and as the publisher.
He talked through his photographic projects, and the self-reflection and criticism that was necessary to allow the work to progress; aiming to each time improve the delivery to the viewer, whilst still maintaining and celebrating the ideas which he felt were key to his style.
When discussing book publishing, David identified four predominant areas to be considered for production: design, the product package, paper, and printing. And he had many tips on how to tackle them; the sum of which was firstly to keep organised, and secondly to build a strong relationship with those that can provide these services. Here the idea of trade for trade was highlighted – all companies need pictures, pictures we can provide in return for discount, also paper and printing manufacturers eager to test out their paper and keep sample copies. An additional third point would be to consider learning things yourself – becoming self-sufficient, it’s not possible in all circumstances, but David did teach himself how to frame prints.
Following the talk and the question, the class had more of an informal ‘Off the record’ conversation with David. He mentioned a few other things that are important to a photographic practitioner – the significance of finding something untouched and with a personal connection to explore. Also the advice to keep up with self-driven projects after graduation – even if they’re not selling they will be profiting.
“Try to think of it as commissioning yourself, or at least aim to make your money back, and then you’ve managed to get your name out there without losing anything.”
- David Gray
Overall, David was a very encouraging practitioner to talk with, especially from a student’s point of view. He provided a talk which emphasized the necessity for hard work and disciplined effort with projects, but at the same time the importance of enjoying the projects and pursuing the ideas that you are passionate about, and as David summed up – be strict with yourself, and have fun.
You can find a longer write-up of David’s talk by George Rippon here