Our interview with photographer Larry Fink is the first in a series of conversations with Photography Book Now (PBN) 2011 jurors. Fink has been a constant presence in the photography scene for over 50 years, with one-man shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney in New York. He has taught for nearly 41 years and has twice been a Guggenheim Fellow.
Blurb: Please describe what makes a great photography book to you?
Larry: Rhythm and purpose.
Blurb: Do you have any advice for photographers working on book projects?
Fink: A book is forever but you not at all. Be patient; career is a blip. The meaning of life is forever, an open book so to speak.
Blurb: What is a favorite photography book that you own or have seen from the last few years?
Larry: Mitch Epstein’s Power: concise, crafted, minutely magnified. The book is startling in its comprehensive maturity. Lee Friedlander’s America by Car, it’s over indulgent, gloating in self-love and visual brilliance. As usual, there’s no purpose, save for seeing, which in Lee’s case is visionary besides being sometimes boringly arbitrary.
Blurb: What is the most exciting aspect of the photography scene right now? How do books tie into that?
Larry: That it continues and thrives up against mighty odds. The odds are that there are a trillion pictures taken each day, but people, both serious practitioners and amateurs, persist in coding the mysteries of the instant.
Blurb: How do you think entering competitions can further a young photographer’s career?
Larry: Folks get to see your work. If you win, of course it starts to amble down the path for acceptance.
Blurb: What was the first photography book you made/published?
Larry: Social Graces, Aperture (1984)
Blurb: Has your approach to putting together a photography book changed over the years? If so, how?
Larry: My approach to everything has changed over the years. “How” requires a long answer, but it’s not for right now
Blurb: Is there anything we didn’t ask you that you think would be helpful or informative to anyone entered in or thinking of entering Photography Book Now 2011?
Larry: Don’t be seduced by the sins of ownership, meaning that just because you did it doesn’t mean it’s good. See question and answer number two “advice for photographers working on book projects.”
Blurb: Thank for talking with us, Larry. If anyone wants to check out the PBN judging criteria as explained by Darius Himes, our lead judge, take a look at this video and be sure to get your book submission in by July 14, 2011.