Momento Musings

Uncensored! Open Photobooks


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OPEN CATEGORY WINNER: The World Is Yours by Michael Kai

Book Description: Commissioned photography is photography designed for a specific purpose, usually to tell or to sell us something. Consequently, its visual language tends toward familiar, unambiguous imagery; blue skies, smiling faces, busy city streets. By contrast, THE WORLD IS YOURS explores the unplanned, the unconventional and the unexpected. Captured over a period of ten years’ work and travel, the images in this collection combine the characteristic precision, clean lines and bold colours of Michael’s professional work with an offbeat, quirky sensibility and the spontaneity of documentary photography.

In an echo of Rene Magritte, the images are framed and presented in groups of four. Skylines, landscapes, humans and animals, the commonplace and the surreal sit comfortably side by side, their proximity and common threads of colour suggesting an additional layer of meaning. In this way, THE WORLD IS YOURS presents a series of spontaneously captured, visually engaging images and leaves the rest as a riddle. The viewer is invited to explore photographs rather than interpret them, to uncover their stories and shared themes, and to take a fresh perspective on the everyday.

Judges Comments: It is a creatively adventurous work with stunning, conceptual images and an unpredictable design … Conceptual structured images with consistent technique. Clean unobtrusive design. Adventurous and creative … Stunning images. Design is completely inappropriate for the content and the cover is unrelated to the interior. Outstanding photography with extremely sleek design. Narrative lacking slightly, but as a package still works overall … The design is interesting as there’s less of a thread, less of a formula … The book works as an ‘exhibition’ of photography but lacks interest as a physical object … Would benefit greatly from tighter editing and curation … The cover doesn’t reflect what you find inside, it doesn’t make you want to look inside … Unpredictable (in a good way).

Photographer Biography: Michael Kai is a Melbourne-based photographer. Born in a town close to Berlin, Germany, Michael spent two years as a documentary photographer in post-war Kosovo before pursuing further studies in Germany and Australia. Since 2005, Michael has worked primarily as a commissioned photographer. His distinctive style incorporates a striking balance of colour, a clean, graphical approach to composition and the use of negative space to frame clear focal points, creating images that are both simple and visually arresting.

 michale Kai
Photographer: Michael Kai
Title: The World Is Yours
Design: Micha Kumpf
Printed at: Momento Pro

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 FINALIST: At Water’s Edge by Paul Blackmore

Book Description: At Water’s Edge explores the relationship between humanity and its most vital natural resource. This extraordinary body of work spanning 11 years and 14 countries provides a global look at how water flows through the spiritual and physical daily lives of people around the world. The photographs poignantly illustrate the unfolding drama of the global water crisis and how it is affecting those caught up in it: a billion people without access to clean water, another four billion without an adequate supply. Against this dire backdrop, the work also celebrates the quiet, yet essential connection with nature that water offers us.

Judges Comments: Atmospheric, captivating raw photography. Design creates visual variation. Limited narrative is appropriate … Excellent photography with quality design. Inappropriate font selection loses a point … Great connection between the images, narrative and design.

Photographer Biography: Sydney based photographer, Blackmore’s many photo essays and stories, published in such international media as Time, L’Express, Le Monde and Geo, have established him as a much sought-after collectable photographer. He has gained prominence through his exhibitions at Camera One New York, Stills Gallery Sydney, Perpignan France and the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne. In 2010 a series of photos from At Water’s Edge were exhibited at the esteemed Biennale D’Limage France and in 2012, at the Leonardo Museum Salt Lake City. Blackmore is one of a new generation of photojournalists – reporters of reality –whose elegant, coherent and enduring observations function as both valuable records of social change and stunning fine-art images.

paul blackmorePhotographer: Paul Blackmore
Design: Sharon Little
Retouching: Ghinny Lau
Published by: T&G Publishing

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FINALIST: Chasing Tjanongombe by Ben McRae

Book Description: Chasing Tjanongombe is a book that documents our time with one Himba family in northern Namibia. It is a culmination of 5 years of travels to the area which saw us be totally immersed in the Himba culture and to experience many different facets of their lives and culture. The narrative and images explores the way in which the Himba balance traditional village life, their beliefs with an ever encroaching western beliefs and medicine that dictates how the villages chief (Tjanongombe) is treated in his battle with cancer.

Judges Comments: Incredible anthropological study but could be more tightly edited. The author’s passion for the project was evident through every element. Perfect synergy between text and pictures … The photographer really connected with the people and didn’t represent them just as objects … Photography and design both perfectly executed. An ambitious book but a more sophisticated design would enhance the overall package.

Photographer Biography: Ben is a photographer based out of Wollongong on the beautiful New South Wales, South Coast. Whilst he is at home he focuses his attentions on capturing the beautiful seascapes and lush hinterlands that surround his home, but his real passion in photography lies in Africa. Ben’s regular travel to Africa and his subsequent photographic journeys have seen him drive thousands upon thousands of kilometers through all of southern and eastern Africa in search of that perfect image.

Ben McRaePhotographer: Ben McRae
Title: Chasing Tjanongombe
Printed by: Momento Pro

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FINALIST: Interview With A Cockatoo (Or Two) by Leila Jeffreys

Book Description: Interview With A Cockatoo (Or Two) is a portrait book of Wild Australian Native Cockatoos photographed over two years. The Cockatoos all show wonderful characters and expressions.

I imagined what it would be like to ‘Interview’ The Cockatoos. It’s a playful notion that the Cockies can’t speak our language so instead they answer each question with their expression, body language and markings. It is ultimately a format to celebrate these beautiful birds while also using our imagination to think how they would respond to the interview.

Judges Comments: Engaging, humorous narrative and easy layout design. Clinical photographic style lacks variation … Photography and design both perfectly executed … Stunning photography. Tidy design but completely inappropriate for the content. Cover is disengaging … Humorous approach to bird photograph

Photographer Biography: Leila Jeffreys if a fine art photographer. She is represented by the Olsen Irwin Gallery in Sydney Australia, the Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong and her artworks can be seen hanging in Jonathan Adler boutiques across the US.

Throughout my childhood I was surrounded by wildlife thanks to my Dad who loved to travel and took us to many wild and wonderful places. I loved the animals I would encounter. I thought of them as furry and feathered ‘people’. It was how I formed a relationship with them from a very young age. Now that I’m an adult, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing than spending a day with some birds, getting to know them, them getting to know me and finding a way to cut through our differences until we’re left with one animal photographing another.

jeffreysPhotographer: Leila Jeffreys
Title: Interview With A Cockatoo (Or Two)
Retouching: Jacob Ring
Design: Todd Sheldrick
Text: James Roden
Printed by: Momento Pro

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FINALIST: Near Death + Imagined Landscapes by Peter Whyte

Book Description: “Near Death” investigates the structural beauty of dying botanical specimens. These objects are very familiar to the point of iconic in their living state. But as death nears, their structural complexity and beauty is accentuated.

“Imagined Landscapes” explores further the notion of landscape. I attempt to create landscapes in my studio, manipulating my palette of variables – light, shadow, form. While these ˜Imagined Landscapes’ are devoid of specific place, they possess the familiarity and soul of somewhere I feel I have been. I produced this book after a solo exhibition at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne, September 2012.

Judges Comments: Beautiful photography. Images are well presented. Opposing details are nice, but typography is heavy handed and spoils the overall tone.

Photographer Biography: Peter Whyte is a photographer and graphic designer living and working in Hobart. For 30 years he has been photographing the best of Tasmania’s food and wine, industry and architecture, people and extraordinary places, plus commissions nationally and internationally including in Italy, New Zealand and The Republic of Kiribati. Peter’s fine art practice has coexisted and been honed by the demands of his commercial work. A HeadOn 2013 associated exhibition of the work in this book will open at Gaffa on June 13th – 25th.
Peter Whyte
Title: Near Death + Imagined Landscapes
Text: Ashley Crawford
Printed by: Blurb

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Stay tuned for the next installment of Uncensored! coming soon to a screen near you.
Head On Photo Festival, Australia’s largest photo festival and the world’s second largest festival.


  1. Pingback: Uncensored! Travel and Landscape Photobooks | Momento Musings

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  4. Lovely selection of photobooks. Aspiring wannabe photobook designers / creators take note – there is elegance in simplicity. Note how all the the finalists make great use of white space and simple layouts in their photobooks. The biggest amateur mistake is trying to do TOO MUCH with your layout. Don’t try to squeeze too many photos onto a page (of course there are always exceptions to the rule), and forget overly fancy borders and designs – these may appeal to you now, but usually look dated very quickly!

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