Brown Owl Press Dispatch #1

Brown Owl Press Dispatch #2: Q&A

Hello! This email probably finds you in isolation from the dreaded coronavirus. I'm at home for the foreseeable future so have a lot of time to work on Brown Owl Press stuff. Over the next few week we shall offer online portfolio reviews, still need to figure out how that works exactly. If you're interested, please send us an email and we'll figure something out. We can still post orders, for now at least.

How do you decide who/what to publish? Should people send an email to pitch or an Instagram link?
Officially we don't accept unsolicited submissions. When we still did, our inbox was flooded with a lot of work that was just not suitable for Brown Owl Press. It was clearly just sent to every publisher without research and it was exhausting to deal with. So now, we may not officially accept unsolicited submissions but if someone thinks they're a good fit for BOP I'll still look at the work. Tell me 

What makes for a good photobook?
Wow, what a question! I suppose a good photobook is one that makes you want to keep turning the pages until the end. That's probably too simple an answer, however it was my immediate response. As a designer I do look for a layout that helps the work flow and not detract from the message being transmitted.

Does Brown Owl Press have a preferred aesthetic?
This question was asked a few times, so I've condensed it into one. The short answer is no. We just publish work that speaks to us. Obviously my biases are going to be the main selector, so I'm more likely to be interested in poetic work over straight documentary. The major exception to that would be for music scenes that interest me. None of the photographers we've published could ever be considered brash - Jackie Roman's Old Domino is probably the most 'direct' work we've published but it's far from obnoxious. It is, however, a pretty tight document of a short-lived music scene in a specific area. 

What tools do you use to design your books?
Adobe InDesign. Will occasionally design the cover in Photoshop but it's 95% InDesign now. 

Do you think Brown Owl Press publishes enough photographers from minority backgrounds?
As Brown Owl Press does almost everything remotely I quite often haven't met the photographers we work with. So, in many cases I don't know the ethnicity, in some cases the gender and almost never the sexuality of the photographer. Sometimes it comes up, sometimes it doesn't. Of the eighteen titles we've published, nine have been by female photographers and (at least) four have been by photographers of colour. This is all something I've noted after the fact, none of the work was chosen because of who the photographer is, all of it was chosen because I liked the work I was shown. So, if we don't practice positive discrimination, hopefully we'll naturally get a good balance of backgrounds in the people we publish. So far, so good.

The photography world (be it photobooks, galleries etc) massively under represents photographers from minority backgrounds. We can't fix this but we can certainly not perpetuate it. 

Photobooks that influenced you?
Niagara by Alec Soth was the first book that really hit me hard. The Euro Visions book by various Magnum photographers (photo essays based on the newest European states) inspired me greatly. Liz Kuball's California Vernacular certainly made me realise how could photozines could be. Some of her work had previously been printed in a group zine called  Get Off My Lawn and I loved that zine too. Not sure why Brown Owl Press has never put a group zine out. Maybe I will!

Upcoming books
We have several books at various stages of production by Hans Nøstdahl, Isa Gelb and the long awaited title by Jenny Riffle. It's coming, I promise! It'll be worth the wait. 

Call for essays
There's semi-regular feature on the Brown Owl Press blog of short essays by photographers, collectors and publishers talking about a single photobook that means a lot to them and why. If you would like to take part please email for details.

Still available
We recently published Beware of Trains by Brian David Stevens, In Between Breakdowns by Rosie Kliskey and Framework Vol I by Al Palmer. Copies of all are still available. 

Things wei've enjoyed lately
- Jörg M. Colberg's essay on Rinko Kawauchi's Utatane
- Steady Income band 7" on Pond Life Records
- The work of Clara de Tezanos.

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or opinions please don't hesitate to get in touch.


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Brown Owl Press · BOP HQ · The Towers · Somewhere In The Ether, BOP1 · United Kingdom

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