The Photo-Diaries of Mick Williamson
Publishing the archive of a photography legend.Late in 2022, we (The Silverhill Press) began discussions with the filmmaker Rod Morris about designing and publishing a book to celebrate the work of British Photographer Mick Williamson. As well as many years of teaching and professional practice, Mick has exhibited his photography in solo and group shows nationally and internationally. He has a huge fan base but has never previously published his work as a collection. Rod had planned for some time to make a feature-length documentary-style film about Mick and creating an accompanying book was the natural next step.
An important part of Mick’s ongoing photographic practice since the mid-1970s has involved the daily use of a small half-frame analogue camera which forms the majority of what was to become “The Photo-Diaries of Mick Williamson” so we had a huge archive work to consider and with the initial selection undertaken by Mick, Rod and Ian Land, editor of The Silverhill Press. A mammoth task - there are over two million negatives in the archive. Eventually, between 120 and 160 images were chosen, with the entire selection process itself being filmed by Rod. The crowdfunded for the production and print quickly reached and exceeded its goal (Mick has a lot of supporters!) and the content was handed over to me for the design stage in early 2023.
I was fortunate that Mick felt he trusted me enough to paginate and sequence the book myself, choosing to present each image as close as possible to the original print size - building consistent colour-correct borders around each one and creating a layout that was carefully paced with regular visual breaks - rational image grouping and an even visual pace and texture. Some images grouped naturally into pairs or short sequences, some were clearly standalone. The layout of the book itself was deceptively simple but highly controlled and after much discussion, we went for hard covers with a single wraparound image and title motif designed to visually echo the form of an aperture or focus ring of a manual camera lens, and suggesting Mick's own eye.
The support text was written by Paul Hill and Professor Susan Andrews and I found space to format Mick’s entire CV and his extensive exhibition and publication archive.
We printed the book ourselves digitally at Silverhill press with the covers supplied and bound at an outside resource in Stevenage. The book sold out its initial print run of 300 copies at its launch in Folkestone and at the second launch event in Hastings, with Rod’s film premiered and shown at both sites - along with more prints and a full layout of the book with talks and presentations from Mick and Rod.
There will be a further show later in the year at the Photographers Gallery in London and the book is available from us online. It’s already become one of our most successful imprints and continues with excellent feedback and very strong sales.