Photo book ‘rich with pathos’ scoops award

07 April 2016
SM F16 - composite

Long hours spent collating and hand-folding pages has paid off for student Solomon Mortimer after winning the inaugural New Zealand Photo Book of the Year Award (Self Published) with his work entitled F.16 G3 20/25/30.

The University of Auckland postgraduate student from Elam School of Fine Arts, whose work focuses on social documentary, employs obsolete photographic technology – including a 6x7” film camera to capture images, which are then hand-printed onto silver gelatin paper in a darkroom.

His winning book, which consists of a selection of test strips recording a year of his darkroom work, documents the rigorous process required to make images in this way.

The Award established by Photobook New Zealand and Momento Pro is intended to celebrate excellence and innovation in photo book creation, and to showcase the work of New Zealand photo artists to a growing local and international audience. There are two distinct categories, Self Published and Trade Published.

To create his self-published book, Mortimer scanned his work, designed the publication, and sourced and delivered his favourite paper stock to his chosen printer, before collating and folding every page to save on costs. The limited edition work was then finally bound.

The judges assessed the entries in four areas: photography – quality of vision and sequencing of images; design – layout, typography, cover art, narrative flow; format – suitability of materials and presentation for purpose; and lastly audience – suitability for exhibition, sale or collection.

They described F.16 G3 20/25/30 as ‘rich with pathos’, saying “the work uses analogue technology and processes to interrogate the concept of photography, the nature of perception and the impermanence of things. The design is edgy and cleverly plays with the contrast between positive/negative, light/dark and ying/yang. Its construction is also intriguing, as the layering of pages opens it up to multiple readings.” 

Mortimer, in his final year of his Masters of Fine Art, wins $2,000 plus $5,000 worth of printing. The last of his 40 copy print run of F.16 G3 20/25/30 has now sold out at the Los Angeles Book Fair.

Media queries to Miranda Playfair, m.playfair@auckland.ac.nz