My name is Tim Heubeck and I am a photographer based in Germany. I run a website and Instagram channel; all under the name of wasteoffilm (links at the foot of this article). Photography, for me, is less about what the things we are familiar with look like and more about everything that lays under the surface; everything we cannot express and fail to see in our daily life.
Working on long-term projects and focusing on black and white film photography has enabled me to bring back the physicality of art, and revealing the only true way of showing a photograph: through print. Since 2015 I have exclusively focused on self-publishing books. To date, six publications have resulted; spanning work from nearly a decade of constant observing and photographing.
In my last article on EMULSIVE, I discussed some aspects of the photobook in general and self-publishing specifically. This article is aimed to build some of the ideas, while giving some more insight into my latest book “A Place To Be“, self-published and released in January 2020, the book contains 130 photographs over 188 pages.
Creating something that lasts
When thinking about whether or not to publish your work, you will, at some point or another, think about the big question of: why? For me personally, the answer is manifold. For one, a book is something inherently physical, which will stand the test of time. In years to come, when the next big social media platform has hit, you will still be able to pick up your book and view at the photographs; they’re still there, exactly in the way you once designed the book. Second, creating a book will enable you to delve much deeper into the meaning of your photography. It will allow you to question the essence of your work, and, thus, can be the next step towards evolving as an artist.
Next, once the book is printed, there is nothing you can change; things are set in stone. This can be extremely liberating, too. For me, finishing a certain publication always feels like putting the end to a certain time of my life, which is ultimately documented forever. This has been especially the case in my latest project. Believe me when I say that I could go on and on about the why of publishing but I think, too, that everyone has her/his own reasons. And, whatever those might be, they should not hold you back from pursuing this path. They should help you embark on this journey; a quest to artistic evolution.
Your first book won’t be perfect
The creation of a book requires many skills: sequencing of images, layout, designing the cover, etc. You will be the one responsible for executing many or even all of the tasks required to produce a book. View this as an opportunity to put your photographs into a fitting context, as you ultimately determine how your work will be presented, and as such perceived by the viewer. For example, the size and position of the photographs on the spreads will largely determine its impact on the viewer. This is a powerful tool; don’t underestimate it.
Putting your images in the right sequence can be quite the challenge. You will most likely begin with too many photographs, which you will need to narrow down dramatically by finding, for example, common themes. Some photographers will pay great attention to how their work is sequenced, while others on the opposite spectrum simply do not care about this.
No approach is superior, I believe. You will have to figure out what the goal of your publication is, and, consequently, how it should be designed. At the beginning, all of these tasks may feel like a burden. Nevertheless, you will soon discover that things will never be perfect – they don’t have to be.
My latest project: “A Place To Be”
Once in a lifetime, I feel, everyone needs to go on his/her own journey to solitude in order to filter out all of the noise that usually surrounds us. This quest will certainly be hard, especially getting used to be surrounded by only yourself throughout most of the time. Nevertheless, once you are beyond a certain point, where your thoughts, fears, and everything you have been holding back during all of those years finally begin to surface, you will begin to realize the reason and importance of such endeavors.
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Maybe this break from the mundane life is necessary once in a while, to be reminded of who you are and what it really is you want from life. Maybe our modern-day life just does not allow us to discover this truth anymore. Maybe we have lost a part of ourselves by making us somewhat numb to our true inside.
Experiencing Japan for myself has been something I had dreamed about for a long time. But my first stay was totally different than planned, and, almost suddenly, I found myself lost in Japan; unable to find my hotel. Having finally found the hotel, the journey was about the start.
The first days began to blur; there was an incredible yet not overwhelming amount to take in. I just started walking with no clear direction or goal in mind, guided by my interest. As if it didn’t matter what time of day it was, I was always out, there was always something to see and to discover; ultimately, to document. Some of the photographs of my first trip to Japan were compiled in my fourth book “Memories from another world“.
A few months after this first trip, I booked a flight to Tokyo again. I just felt like I needed to. And this is when it clicked inside my mind: This is the place I can run to when everything feels like it is getting too much; when I need to discover a new truth, one so far from everything I knew to this day. Finding solitude was the purpose of these journeys.
The starting point for all of these journeys was always Tokyo, from where I made my way through numerous of Japan’s prefectures and islands. Over the years, the train has taken me to various larger and smaller cities of Japan; mostly traveling south of Tokyo. Finding myself in Nagano, Toyama, and Ishikawa prefecture as well as on Kyushu island – where not many western people make their way – I was far removed from everything I was familiar with. It was exactly during these times when I got so caught up in just being, that I nearly forgot that this was not my regular life and that there will come a day when I need to return back home.
Over the course of my travels to Japan, I have met many strangers, seen many intriguing places, shot hundreds of rolls of film, and traveled many thousand miles through the country. Ultimately, these journeys have enabled me to be the person I am today, by realizing who it is I am. After developing and viewing all of the photographs taken throughout my travels to Japan, it feels like they were taken by someone else, in a different lifetime. I do not seem to be able to remember many of these moments. Some days, I began to doubt that it was even me who took these photographs in the first place.
My sixth publication “a place to be” ties these journeys together; it is a document of what I saw, or maybe what I wanted to see during this time of my life. Putting this body of work together, I realized that it was a necessary closure. This period of my life is ultimately over. Still, I know for sure: There will come a time when I will feel the urge to escape again. And Japan will be this place for me to go to; my place to be. You can find more information about and contents from the book on wasteoffilm.com and copies of the book are directly available through my shop.
Thanks for reading!
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I really enjoyed this article and your photographs. Thank you.
Some nice images there! Some of them remind me of Ralph Gibson. (compliment)
I find the hardest thing about making a book is the editing. Trying to find the right images to lay along side each other, trying to get them to tell the story thats easy for the viewer to understand. Its more difficult than actually making the images in my opinion!
Making a book is an art form in itself!