Karim Skalli and Nicholas Packer
University: Norwich University of the Arts
Statement: I’m Karim Skalli, 22, currently living in Norwich but originally from Hull. I am a photographer with a preoccupation for observational and documentation photography. Through my work I am exploring my own identity through my relationship with spaces, objects and people. I am particularly interested in how we perceive the so-called every day and by creating ambiguous imagery I can hope to challenge perceptions of the banal and how our lived spaces and places are formative of our identity.
What is your favourite photobook by another photographer? I have a few, I really like Carl Bigmores' Between Two Mysteries photobook; it's really well binded and the project itself is really interesting. Then there's Lydia Goldblatt's book Still Here, which has a very intimate feel about it and is really well presented. However, my all-time favourite photobook is Illuminate by photographer Rinko Kawauchi. The book itself is presented beautifully, along with the binding and the layout of the imagery, how they flow. Everything about it is perfect, if you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend doing so.
Direction: I started really taking notice of photography in college when I picked it up as a subject and people started taking notice of my work. From then I studied it at university and now take pictures all the time, it's become part of my day to day life. My route in to book making came when I met my friend Nick Packer at university who was studying publishing. We shared similar interests and ideas and it didn't take long for us to collaborate on work. We made a few drafts books at our time at university but nothing really significant. When it came to my final year we decided we were going to really sit down and discuss properly about making a photobook. We spent time looking at influences for photobooks, looking at designs that would best fit my work and narrative and looking at fonts, paper and binding for the actual book which was a really enjoyable process. When it comes to collaborating, I think it's really important to have a relationship with one another, that way you can get across what you want and bounce ideas of each other and it becomes more enjoyable rather than stressful.
Considerations: There's something more personal about a book; it's yours, it's a narrative of your work. A book offers a much more expansive and in depth look at a body of work than a print. With the quality and texture of the paper we wanted something really natural and a real feeling to set the work on, rather than something synthetic and unnatural.
The binding was one of the most important aspects for us. We wanted something that wouldn't limit how people viewed the book so having it lay open flat allowed for the images to be viewed effortlessly - the viewer doesn't even have to hold the book to take the images in.
Inspiration: The main influence was photographer Rinko Kawauchi and the intimacy and simplicity to her work. We liked how she binds her books so that the pages lay flat, making it easier for the viewer to see the images side by side.
It was important to represent the images inside, the quietness and stillness to them, so we looked at how artists used their books to represent their style, looking at photographers such as Stephen Gill, Alec Soth and Todd Hido to name a few, all visual influences of mine.
Interior: In terms of layout the idea was just to make the absolute most of the images. There wasn't a chronological order to the work, so that allowed for setting a pace to the book ourselves and matching images that used similar ideas and complemented each other visually, making each image work to its full potential whilst also having the book work as a whole piece itself.
Advice and Future Goals: In terms of book making, I'd say have a go, get involved with a publisher, enjoy the process, look in to new ways of showing your work. If working with people isn't your thing then have a go making your own, I know a few photographers I studied with did it by themselves and equally enjoyed the process. The Guardian did a great piece on self-publishing and how it's becoming more popular with photographers today; this helped me understand more about the area and if I were to go down it.
I'm currently working on new projects and exhibiting but am looking to create another photobook soon. I want to eventually make a few of these books with the aim of distributing them, hopefully getting some exposure and interest in my work.