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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A photobook is a book whose primary content is photographic. It may or may not have text. Many show the work of a single photographer


Early photo-books

Early photo-books are characterised by their use of photographic printing as part of their reprographic technology. Photographic prints were tipped-in rather than printed directly onto the same paper stock used for letterpress printed text. Many early titles were printed in very small editions and were released as partworks to a network of well-informed and privileged readers. Few original examples of these books survive today, due to their vulnerability to light and damage caused by frequent handling.

What is arguably the first photo-book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843–53) was created by Anna Atkins. The book was released as a partwork to assist the scientific community in the identification of marine specimens. The non-silver cyanotype printing process worked by pressing actual specimens in contact with light-sensitive paper; hence the word "impression" in the book's title.

The Pencil of Nature (1844–46) was produced by William Henry Fox Talbot, who had invented of the Calotype photographic process in 1839. Although significant as the first negative/positive photography process, the Calotype was also envisioned as a commercial prospect for the reproduction of images in books through mass publication. Anticipating commercial success, Fox Talbot established purpose-made printing premises in Reading to carry out the reproduction of his book. The Pencil of Nature was released in six parts between 1844 and 1846, to an initially promising list of private subscribers whose numbers dwindled, causing the premature termination of his project.

Julia Margaret Cameron created the first photo-book to illustrate a literary work. The 1874 edition of Tennyson's Idylls of the King contained twelve Cameron images that had been specially created, but reproduced as wood engravings. Cameron sought her own publisher, creating a new version of Idylls of the King, containing her original photographs as albumen prints, which came out in December of the same year.

In Japan

Japanese photography

Photographers such as Shinzō Fukuhara were producing photography books in the 1920s. The postwar years brought low-priced photography books, such as the many volumes of Iwanami Shashin Bunko. From the 1950s onward, most Japanese photographers of note have had photobooks published.

However, the simplest Japanese translation of photobook is shashinshū (Template:Nihongo2), and the shashinshū section of a typical Japanese bookstore is full books of photographs of little or no documentary or artistic merit but instead conventional portraying currently popular celebs. Many are of cheesecake models (guradoru) famous for little else, or porn starlets (nūdoru) who also appear in "adult" movies; others are of singers, television personalities, professional sportswomen (often wrestlers) and so forth. They can contain as few as 15 or as many as 120 photos.

They are very popular with fans, as they are a good source of high quality photos of a popular celebrity. A musician may release a small photobook with an album or single release.

Vernacular photobooks

Storing digital images in traditional photo albums means printed copies and the pages of an album. With photobooks, a real book with its own images and texts can be created. The resulting book is printed on digital color printers and bound.

Professional printing and binding services offer free software for easy creation of photobooks with professional layouts and individual layout capabilities. Because of the integrated design and order workflow, hardcover bound books with customized pictures and text can be produced very cost-effectively.

Publication dates of some photo-books


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Photo-book" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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