Michael Mack, Publisher
Introducing the Selectors for the MA/MFA Phase of Graduate Photography Online 2019: we talk to publisher, Michael Mack.
Tell us about your job? What does your core role at MACK involve?
As the publisher I pull together the list of books every season. That’s the fun part, alongside making the books with the authors. The rest of my job involves running a small business in a challenging industry.
How did you make your way into the career you're now in? Did you always want to work in a field that involved photography?
I was originally a lawyer in the City. I escaped to work in the arts and found my way to photography through an interest in the medium. Books became my focus when I realised I was less interested in prints on the wall versus the multitude of possibilities opened up with photographic reproduction and the book form.
How do you decide on what makes an interesting photograph or photographic project?
It is almost entirely a subjective process but the obvious combination of striking images and engaging content is hard to ignore.
As regards the photographer's statement, what are the most important things for you to know about the work? When it comes to showing their work outside of University, have you any tips on how graduates should prepare their work and the supporting material that accompanies it?
It is relatively inexpensive to make dummy books and this is an ideal format for presenting work. I put a great deal of emphasis on the accompanying statement - it does not have to be grammatically perfect but should embody the ideas behind the work and the photographer’s own perspective.
In your view, what are the kind of qualities that completing a degree course in photography should endow an individual with? Aside from specifically technical skills, what is the difference that having a demographic of emerging photography graduates makes in the world?
Independent thinking, being a self-starter and self-belief. You have to accept that working in the arts will involve a great deal of rejection at the outset - you need to be thick-skinned and determined.
What are the challenges you see facing graduates from photography degree courses as they make their way into the world at this point in time?
There are a huge number of graduates and everyone with a smart phone believes they are a photographer. You have to bring to the table something that marks your out as different.
What advice would you have for someone interested in working in your area of photography?
Make books! Just get involved in every level of book production, from editing, through design, production and the nitty gritty of what publishing is about: audiences, and how to reach them.