Arthur Herrman and Jeroen Kummer
(Kummer & Herrman)
Making photographs is an independent and often solitary practice. So it’s not surprising that many photographers are cautious when it comes to exhibiting or publishing their projects—they may want to have as much control over that as they do over the images. But one could also say that a photographer’s work isn’t finished until it has found its final form of presentation. Whether this is as an exhibition, book, or other medium, photographers often realize at this stage that their project could benefit from adding someone else’s expertise—another perspective. In our opinion, this can be the big advantage of working with a designer.
When Lesley Martin invited us to act as guest editors for this issue of The PhotoBook Review—the first designers invited to do so—it didn’t take long for us to say yes. We were flattered, but we also knew it would be a great opportunity to add yet another perspective to the flourishing practice of conceiving and producing photobooks. In particular, we wanted to focus on the large number of projects in which content and design decisions come together and reinforce one another.
We believe togetherness and mutual reinforcement are key for creating a successful project—especially in its realization in book form. When you find common ground with other people, to play, search, question, and debate, you simultaneously build trust between you and your collaborators, and create space to reflect, breed ideas, and think freely. These words may sound big, but we strongly believe the outcome always reflects the process of creation. That’s probably why the projects we identify with most strongly are very often the result of a sustained, long-term, collaborative processes. Taco Hidde Bakker talked to six groups of collaborators about the books they created together and how collaborating can push your work to the next level, beginning on page 10.
Of course, this issue also focuses on the role of design and designers. Starting on page 6, designer Ania Nałęcka discusses her involvement with Sputnik, an international collective of documentary photographers from Central and Eastern Europe. This issue also includes an interview with the legendary designer, publisher, and gallery owner Willem van Zoetendaal (page 4), who has been one of our big inspirations as we’ve set off on our own journey.
A huge thank you to all the contributors for their dedication and generosity, as well as to Lesley Martin and the entire Aperture team for their trust and patience. We hope you will enjoy this issue. In its diversity, it forms a powerful argument for collaboration—and that’s exactly what we had in mind from the very first start. Creating damn good projects requires teamwork, partnership, and collaboration. So, let’s team up!
Arthur Herrman and Jeroen Kummer are the cofounders of the Utrecht-based design office Kummer & Herrman. They both studied graphic design in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and began by working in print. K&H, established in 1998, has developed into a multidisciplinary office with expertise in print, spatial, and interactive design. The office has received international acclaim for its work, often in the field of documentary photography—including for its collaboration with Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen, of The Sochi Project. K&H also designed a comprehensive book of Hornstra and Van Bruggen’s work in 2013, The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus (Aperture), which will be released in a new edition this fall. Herrman and Kummer both lecture at HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. K&H has received numerous nominations and awards, and, in 2014, won a Dutch Design Award for The Sochi Project. kummer-herrman.nl
The PhotoBook Review is a publication dedicated to the consideration of the photobook—focusing on the best photography books being published, from the coffee-table book to the handmade artist’s edition, and on creating a better understanding of the ecosystem of the photobook as a whole.