In this day and age, everybody who owns a smartphone with an integrated camera can snap pictures at any given moment. In addition, popular and fast-growing social media networks like Instagram are providing a platform to post these photos online for the whole world to see, like and comment on.
One could argue that photographers and photo books have become obsolete – yet, photo books have actually seen a boom in the digital age. The secret of a successful photo book lies in its narrative: more than just a series of images thrown together, the book tells a story through the eyes of the photographer; as such, the pictures become a powerful tool to convey a message. In November, a photo book exhibition organized by Goethe-Institut Indonesien in collaboration with PannaFoto Institute, the Japan Foundation and Afterhour Books, showcased more than 200 titles with stunning photography from Germany, Japan and Indonesia.
“When we organized the first exhibition of photo books from Germany in 2008, we realized that a collection of photo books can tell and show something about a country, so people came here to see a part of Germany,” Christel Mahnke, Head of Information and Library at Goethe-Institut Indonesien, said at the exhibition opening.
The exhibition was accompanied by a 5-day workshop with publisher and photo book expert Markus Schaden and Indonesian photographers Bobby Haryanto and Andi Ari Setiadi. During the workshop, ten pre-selected Indonesian participants created their own photo books. The Goethe-Institut also hosted two discussions in the month of November; the first featured Markus Schaden who spoke about photo books as a visual culture, Romi Perbawa gave insights into his photo book “The Riders of Destiny” during the second event.