I can already hear you thinking: “What does a photobook (what, like a family album?) have to do with how I enjoy my photography?”
A lot, my friend, a lot.
Let’s say, you dreamt that you were in a party full of strangers, and somebody who reeks of tequila comes up to you and asks, “Hey, have you seen the work of Ryan McGinley?” You wake up easily—like a five-year-old being asked to bathe—because, let’s be honest, not many ask about photography like a favorite film or a book you just read. Not even when they’re wasted.
This is what photographer-slash-Fotosemana superwoman Wawi Navarroza hopes to change with Thousandfold, an active space for contemporary photography tucked away in Taguig and founded to expand visual literacy locally. It’s a small educational hub equipped with a library that could change how we talk about this overlooked art form.
Not the family album kind
We still live in an age where Google recognizes the search word “photobooks” as albums loaded with wedding and baby photos. (Trust me, I checked.) Real life sadly doesn’t fall far behind.
Photobooks, as Thousandfold describes it, are “author works in photography.” Or just tactile, artistically produced proofs that this photographer lives and creates. So why would you need some others’ memories in your bookshelves? Simple: you’ll want it. Oftentimes, it’s about the aesthetic. But later, you’ll crave them for the vision.
“[These books] are an outright manifestation of what artists have going on for them. Photobooks and ‘zines are more accessible for their production,” believes Wawi. “In the digital world, we have thousands of images and we don’t know what to do with them. When you see [these photos turned into] an object, it becomes loaded with history.”
Okay, maybe it is still some sort of album. Far from its kitschy and cheesy counterpart, however, these books are long, visual alternatives to a lazy sit-down session scrolling through your Instagram feed.
How to pick the best books
And now this begs the question: Which ones are good?
It’s a subjective matter, but Wawi thinks the better photobooks lead you to a place you haven’t been before. “A photobook is a world of its own. A good photobook is well-designed, well-sequenced, well-edited—with every page a decision made by the creator,” she says. “Successful photobooks, for me, feel like [being] illuminated [after reading them.]”
By “illuminated,” it could mean different things to different people. But what it ultimately does is make us talk. The more photos we see, the more things we have to tell. It’s a cycle that gets art going. In case we all forget, a wordless book can still hold meaning—and even be your next conversation piece.
Photos by Acushla Obusan
Thousandfold Manila. Warehouse 509 VFP Building 2, Veterans Road, Veterans Center, Taguig City. Open on Thursdays to Sundays, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information on admission rates, visit their website.