How would you describe the specific flavour and interests of your blog?
JL: 5B4 is specifically about photography books and art publications. I write reviews and commentary about new and old titles, some rare and out of print. I usually post two to three times a week.
Are comments allowed?
Describe your own background in relation to photography and why you decided to start a photography blog?
JL: I have been an artist/photographer for the past twenty years and 5B4 grew out of my obsession with books of photographs. Books have always been an important part of my understanding and education with photography starting in art school in the late 1980s. I started writing 5B4 as a way to exercise my mind a bit and to try to more fully understand what these books mean to me and why I have surrounded my life with them. I always tell people 5B4 is more for my own benefit than for my readers.
In your experience what have been the highs and lows of blogging? Are there any particular pitfalls to owning a photography-related blog?
JL: 5B4 grew very quickly in readership and has been praised by people I highly respect in the medium so on one level it has lent to a confidence with my writing which I never expected since I hadn't written before I started 5B4. Besides connecting with a world-wide audience of people also passionate about books, it also provides me with direct feedback regarding the types of scholarly books I publish with my own publishing company Errata Editions.
The cons are few and mostly have to do with comments. I allow comments and invite them as one aspect of doing the blog is for my own education and having my views challenged so that I can possibly understand a work more fully. I was hoping that my writings on 5B4 would inspire a dialogue of intelligent ideas and different view points. The drawback with being so democratic is that people hiding 'anonymously' can say whatever they want. That invites comments that tend to be far off topic, and some that are extremely insulting to either the artist/book I write about or even me personally.
What are your top three picks from the world of photography in the last 12 months?
JL: They would be books of course. (1) Bertrand Fleuret's Landmasses and Railways (J+L Books). I have spent quite a bit of time with Landmasses since I bought a copy and find it still offers a variety of challenge and interpretation. The best books make you pick them up more than a few times and I have kept Landmasses within arms reach for several months.
(2) Jurgen Bergbauer's Studien nach der Nature (Fotohof). This title caught my attention due to the avant-garde design and quality of the book's materials in paper choice and printing. It is very design heavy and is hard to categorize as strictly a "photobook" but it was one of my favorites of the year. A book of roadside stone "typologies," its design and concept are fully realized but never overpower the actual images which is usually the case with such studies.
(3) Krass Clement's Novemberrejse (Gyldendal). Krass in my opinion is one of the great under-appreciated photographers of his generation and this book, his most recent, demonstrates why he should reach a larger audience. It has a pretty classic book form but the photographs and sequencing are simply brilliant.
If you could only subscribe to one blog (other than your own of course) which would it be and why?
JL: Believe it or not I actually don't spend a lot of time online or looking at blogs. I check in occasionally to a few other book blogs but I find Doug Rickard's American Suburb X a consistent source for really good original content.