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Bookmarked: The photo book reinvented

On Saturday, the fourth annual Photo Book Fair will showcase new forms of the old stalwart—with a focus on Philly talent

As a photographer, I've always preferred to see my photos displayed in groups; one photograph never seems to hold enough power, no matter how much tension it contains. Unlike film or even literature, a photograph can't quite adequately convey the melancholy of time. And because photographs borrow so heavily from the real world, they struggle to transcend it.

But group photographs on a wall and now together single images are given complexity and narrative possibility. Better still, put them in a book so that they can be explored and consumed intimately.

The photo book, alas, is photography's enduringly authentic medium.

It's also changing—to reflect technology and democratic access to publishing as well as the widely heterogeneous art scene. On Saturday, all this will be celebrated at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center's fourth annual Photo Book Fair at Crane Arts in South Kensington. The idea, says the event's organizer Chris Gianunzio, is to underscore the diversity of photographers, photographic material, and publishers.

The Photo Arts Center, he says, is interested in showcasing "projects that are strong regardless of the content, process or aesthetics involved."

Most of the editions available at the Fair are printed in press runs of 1,000 or less. "One of the goals of the fair is to bring together traditional publishers with more experimental publication projects and endeavors," he says. "Another goal is to foster a local interest in publications, but we also aim to create a community of book makers locally and abroad."

The Fair will present books published by Printed Matter, of New York, Mack, of London, Light Work, of Syracuse, Public Fiction, of LA, and Little Brown Mushroom, of St. Paul, among other national and international publishers, bolstered by a rather strong showing of Philadelphia photo book publishers and photographers who make their own books. You'll be able to look through and purchase books published here by Megawords, Vox Populi, the ICA, Bodega, Stephanie Bursese, and Dominic Episcopo. Photographer Bryan Graf, who lives part time in New Jersey and who has exhibited frequently in Philadelphia, will be on hand at 3PM to sign his book Wildlife Analysis, published by Jersey City's Conveyor Arts.