Guest Editorial & photography (copyright 2019) by Christine Riedell •
After a whirlwind attendance at Paris Photo 2019, and the auxiliary photo book exhibitions, Polycopies and Offprint, all in Paris from November 6, 2019 through November 8, 2019, I came away with a much-energized knowledge of the state of photo books for 2019. I spent three full days at Paris Photo 2019, housed in the Grand Palais, and a few hours in the concurrent exhibits at Polycopies, housed in the ship Concorde, which is docked in the Seine, and Offprint, which takes place in the Beaux Arts.
The weather was crisp and chilly, sunny, and perfect for traveling from one exhibition to another. Everyone was in a festive mood, and Paris was electric with Photo Fever. During my visit, I met photo book publishers and sellers, as well as individuals who self-publish and sell their books themselves, from around the world. All were eager to share their photo book making and publishing experiences with me.
First on my schedule was Paris Photo 2019. Paris Photo had 231 exhibitors, from photo book publishers and photography galleries worldwide. There was never a dull moment, with photo book signings, artist talks, ongoing documentary movies about photographers, catered drinks and light meals, special exhibits, and photo book awards.
A particularly festive moment came on Wednesday when the Paris Photo staff pushed an over-sized cart through the exhibition, and presented every booth with buckets of champagne. This event broke the ice and turned the day into one of celebration.
I observed much photo book selling, photo book ordering, and generally, a great time for networking and socializing. All of the events take place throughout each day. The exhibition is open to Professionals on Wednesday, and then opens to the public on Thursday. The events which are ongoing Thursday through Sunday, are well organized and scheduled so that a participant can attend the artist talks, book signings, award ceremonies, movies which interest them. It’s particularly electric to come face to face with the most important photographers in the world at their book signings. The Grand Palais was filled with photography stars, all circulating the exhibition hall for four days and casting positive energy wherever they went. Paris Photo 2019 had over 70,000 visitors during this time.
I squeezed in visits to Offprint and Polycopies into my Paris Photo schedule. Offprint is held in a large hall at the Beaux Arts, in the stunning area of Saint Germaine in Paris, very near the Seine. There are 160 exhibitors at Offprint, which all appeared to be photo book publishers, sellers, and even individual book publishers selling their own books.
It is much smaller, less scheduled, and more intimate than Paris Photo. It also hosts artist talks and interventions and was open Thursday through Sunday.
Polycopies is unique in that this photo book event is housed in the Concorde, an intriguing ship that is docked on the river Seine. This year there were 51 photo book exhibitors on board. Polycopies hosts book signings all day Thursday through Sunday.
The tables are arranged circulating the inside of the Concorde, making for a cozy, intimate, and delightful meeting area for photographers and participants. Polycopies opens on Wednesday night with a giant party hosted on the Concorde. The Concorde has a small bar, where drinks are served, and next to the Concorde is a cafe, making for a very pleasant venue. One could easily spend an afternoon or evening at Offprint and Polycopies. There are also other book events going on throughout Paris during Paris Photo as well.
Next year I will plan to stay for more days, five instead of three, so I can get to all events and spend more time at each.
Christine Riedell’s 2019 self-published photo book “For Going Out I Was Really Going In” (investigating the gardens surrounding Paris) was previously reviewed on PhotoBook Journal. All photography for this article copyright 2019 Christine Riedell.