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Manifesto for the future of Latin-American photobooks

Walter Costa constructed a manifesto about the future of Latin-American photobooks. It sums up the discussions that took place last March 2019 during the enCMYK Photobook Festival Costa curated for the Montevideo Center of Photography.

Note of the editors: This manifesto can be read along with his article 'Break the Cycle. Latin American photobooks and the audience', published by Trigger.

Door Walter Costa


08 nov. 2019 • 5 min

Sustainability or (Not)everything exists in order to end up as a (photo)book

-It’s not the end of the world: there are photography projects that don’t fit the book format. Listen to them.

-Selfish publishing: the book is a medium of communication. If you want to communicate with yourself more than the readers, what you need is a personal diary. Listen to yourself, honestly.

-If you don’t do, you don’t understand: experiment by making (many) dummies, it’s crucial in order to understand what you can ask a photobook.

-Instagram is another thing: a book persists in time and needs time to be developed.

-Sustainability is collectivity: you will never have the same experience as editors, designers and graphic producers together.

Accessibility or know your audience like you know yourself -There is no shortcut without work: go out the photography world, take the risk of connecting with new audiences and languages. It’s all but easy, but it’s necessary.

-We craft stories: try to show the audience that photobooks contain stories like comics and movies do.

-The reader is your shepherd: a photobook is a space of artistic freedom and experimentation, but be careful not to intimidate those that have never read one or guess they can’t.

-Quantity doesn’t define accessibility: don’t think about how many copies you will print until you ponder who will be your readers.

-Less prizes, more reach: a photobook works when it reaches up its audience, not necessarily when it wins an award.

-Charge less, buy more: keep a fair price for your photobook, it will reach more shelves.

-Be an ant: however small it may be, every effort is important in order to get closer to our beloved readers.



Collaborate with them since the very first steps of your book project.

-Pay the bills: to fairly remunerate all the professionals involved in the editorial process -not only the printer- it’s sustainability too.

-Local and honest: value materials and techniques that you can find in your area. They are part of your identity.

-Adapt or die: to renounce some desires, work with local professionals and evolve together during the process is what transforms frustrated expectations into sustainable practices.

-Break the circle: don’t start an editorial project without considering its circulation from the very beginning.



Rebelliousness or let’s read photobooks to our children before bed

-To think is rebellious: photography doesn’t change the world, but photobooks can be tools to foster discussions related to urgent topics that matter society.

-Readable products, close topics: don’t forget that the book was born as a democratic format, work in order to connect photobooks with the real world.

-I want you to consume what I do: be careful not to impose what you do. Be humble and passionate.

-More miscegenation, more dialogue: photobooks can be fed by hybridism with other languages and media, circulating through them and getting closer to new potential photobook lovers.

-Rebel with a cause: remember that including artivism strategies in your publishing practice can generate photobooks that are beneficial to specific groups of people.

-Honour the sacrifice: respect the trees that have been cut in order to become paper, to publish doesn’t mean vanity, it means to make public.

-Creative engines: stay tuned to what happens around you, work with more people, work horizontally, discuss your ideas to generate efficient publications, with a clear message and a defined audience.

Walter Costa is a photographer, independent editor and teacher specialising in photobooks. After five years in São Paulo, he’s now based in The Hague, working between Europe and Latin America while attending the Master’s in Photography & Society programme at KABK

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