Freya Najade

UniversityLondon College of Communication

Graduation: 2009

Websitewww.freyanajade.com

Statement: My series Along the Hackney Canal is a meditation on the varied landscape found near the waterways that meander through East London. I began to explore the canals and bordering sites, shortly after I moved to Hackney in 2007 and falling in love with this area. I started photographing very much on a just for fun basis; eventually about two years ago I became more serious about it and the idea emerged of making a photo book about the canals. 

Along the Hackney Canal photobook

Along the Hackney Canal photobook

What university did you attend and when did you graduate? I did my Masters in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at London College of Communication in 2009.

What is your favourite photobook by another photographer? I love the book Dalston Anatomy by Lorenzo Vitturi, which is about Ridley Road Market. Ridley Road Market is a market very close to where I live in Hackney. I love the pictures and the sequencing as well as the cover, which is made of cloth you find on the market.

From the series Along the Hackney Canal

From the series Along the Hackney Canal

Direction: I made my first self published photo book (If you are lucky you get old) during my Masters. In If you are lucky you get old I tell stories of five elderly people, with whom I spent time in the U.S. I decided to make a book because I felt that it was the perfect medium to bring these stories to life. A book allowed me to order the images into a story line, to create moods by juxtaposing certain pictures and also to combine images with text. Since this book and editing process I always lay the photographs of a project I am working on out as a book – be it virtual or physical. That doesn’t mean that I necessarily intend to publish the series as a book, but it helps me to shape a narrative by playing with edits and with text. I made another physical book dummy for my Hidropark project, and for Jazorina and Along the Hackney Canal I created very simple virtual books using a Blurb template. I showed these in portfolio reviews at Format Festival and at Offspring Photo Meet, where both books got picked up by publishers (Kehrer Verlag and Hoxton Mini Press). 

From the series Along the Hackney Canal

From the series Along the Hackney Canal

Considerations: I love photography books and I can spend hours in photography bookstores! While at the time when there was no internet it was much more about the images and content it is now – in addition to the pictures – so much more about the physical object, meaning the design of the book, the quality of paper, cover, size etc. In my opinion, books need to be in our days much more special in order to find an audience, respectively, a person willing to buy it. 

Along the Hackney Canal photobook

Along the Hackney Canal photobook

In term of the design process of Along the Hackney Canal, I didn’t have to make as many design decisions as with Jazorina because Hoxton Mini Press’ books have the same size and appearance within one series, so I knew what to expect when I decided to publish with them. A reason I wanted to bring my book out with them is that I loved many of their previous books and their approach to make affordable but beautiful photo books about East London. I like the fact that they use uncoated paper and also that the books are rather small; I am not a big fan of large photo books. Also I like the binding of the books and that they make a special edition in a cloth covered box which includes a print. 

Along the Hackney Canal photobook

Along the Hackney Canal photobook

Interior: The process to design the interior of the book has been very smooth. We had the designer Friederike Huber working with us, and also Martin and Ann from Hoxton Mini Press and me had some input. We agreed very quickly on favourite photographs, the title, the front cover and that it would be a good idea to include a map in the book to show the area where the pictures were taken and also to have an introduction at the beginning. Friederike chose largely the sequencing of the images, which I thought worked very well and she also had the idea that the images shouldn’t be rigidly next to each as a metaphor of the flow of water. 

Along the Hackney Canal photobook

Along the Hackney Canal photobook

Inspiration: As mentioned I really enjoy to spend time in photography books shops looking at other photographers’ work e.g. in Claire de Rouen or during photo festivals at Cosmos-Arles, Photo London etc. There are some publishers like MACK or Silas Finch who I find particularly inspiring and also certain photographers who continuously bring out books, which are just spot on like Christina de Middel or Ricardo Cases.

From the series Along the Hackney Canal

From the series Along the Hackney Canal

Advice and Future Goals: In terms of tips of finding a publisher, I think portfolio reviews are great opportunities to get in contact with publishers (and also with other people from the photo industry) with whom it is usually difficult to meet up, also it is a great opportunity to get feedback on your work.  

Places which offer good portfolio reviews are:

Before choosing a publisher it is quite important to research well, which publishers you are actually interested in and to find out who is the audience of a particular publisher. Also you need to think about whether your book fits in their program and if you like their design and feel of the other photo books. 

I feel extremely lucky that I was able to publish two photo books this year. Both of them have kept me very busy! For next year I have a few exhibitions planned, a residency, and I would like to start a new project, but it’s too early days to talk about it.