Thursday, December 13, 2007

out of print

i was surprised to read that Hellen van Meene has called the adolescents she photographs "objects to direct and guide," and "simply material for me." i like the juxtaposition of her nonchalant-sounding attitude and the care, trust, and exactness that comes across in the relationship between the photographer and the subjects in her images.

i saw a single, damaged copy of Portraits by Hellen van Meene at Aperture, and asked if they had any undamaged books in stock. they checked and said no, but I that could order one online. oops—their website says "Temporarily Out of Stock," but Photo-Eye and others say "Out of Print." i hope they are reprinting. i don't know too much about the photography book publishing business, but it is always disheartening to realize that great monographs often have initial print runs of 2,500 - 5,000 copies. photographs and images seem so universal to our lives today, but obviously the market for art photography in book or print form is infinitesimally small.

it reminds me of poetry (which i think might have more in common with photography than photography has with other visual arts, but that's another topic). poetry is a familiar form to most folks, we read it in school, but most contemporary poets would be happy to sell 1,000 copies of their book.

still, when i see books like Hellen van Meene's and Alec Soth's Sleeping by the Mississippi drift out of print, i do hope that second printings or paperback editions are on the horizon.

(update: a very nice person found me a copy of van Meene's monograph. :-)

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