This year we invited over 20 institutions around Australia and New Zealand to nominate a student photobook for this list.

We are excited that eight photographic courses responded and that we have an opportunity to showcase these photobooks in this Antipodean Photobook Blog post.

The participating colleges and universities:


STUDENT OF the Bachelor of Creative Arts and Design (Photography) course at Charles Sturt University Wagga WAGGA

Luke Fazekas is a 2020 CSU photography graduate. Usually residing in Beijing, Luke found himself stuck outside of China and had to improvise and experiment with alternate camera gear in 2020. Luke takes an interest in documenting the streets when abroad and has a strong passion for traditional darkroom technologies.

Backyard Brownies is a photobook series containing images of friends, family and backyard compositions. The series focuses on appreciating time with others and valuing the luxury of a backyard in times of isolation and lockdowns. Backyard Brownies has been captured with a 1920s Kodak Brownie and developed and processed with darkroom techniques and materials from home. The final result is a home-made, hand-crafted Coptic bound photo book documenting 2020.

Since undergoing a book making elective at CSU, I discovered that producing zines and photobooks is a way of fully completing my photography practice. Having a physical object, you can hold and appreciate is a way of fulfilling the whole process. For me, learning book making and binding skills has been the final component needed to produce and present imagery in my style.

CSU has given me the chance to explore and create with the flexibility to work around other commitments. The photography lecturers have given me license to go down any chosen avenue with full support and guiding me along the way with their years of knowledge, I appreciate their input and hard work. My photography degree has provided a well-rounded insight into the history of photography and an extensive understanding of contemporary photographic practices.


Book details: Unique one of a kind family edition – Not for sale



Dr James T. Farley

Lecturer in Photography & Director of H.R. Gallop Gallery.



FROM THE Bachelor of Design (Photography) course at MASSEY UNIVERSITY, WELLINGTON NZ.
Aden Meser – To be a man

Aden Meser’s story about trans identity is moving and timely. It is a personal documentary in the strongest sense, presenting the journey of transition through a complex visual and textual narrative that places family and his community of peers at its heart.

Here’s what Aden says about the book:

To Be a Man is a photographic exploration of my own life as a transgender man – filled with self-portraits, relationships, community, family and medical/social transition. The book was influenced by other trans artists such as Chella Man, Amos Mac and Miles Mckenna who share their transition stories online and help others in the community come to terms with their own identity.


Massey University offers photographic study at undergraduate level (Bachelor of Design Honours) and postgraduate level (MFA, PhD). The language of the photobook and photo-zine features strongly.

Massey, in collaboration with PhotoForum NZ, runs the biennial Photobook NZ Festival in Wellington.



David Cook

Senior lecturer, Whiti o Rehua School of Art and Ngā Pae Māhutonga – The School of Design, Massey University



FROM THE Photojournalism/Documentary major IN THE BACHELOR OF PHOtography Program at PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIES COLLEGE, MELBOURNE.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


When the Sun Sleeps elegantly illustrates Clare’s feelings of both nostalgia and loathing for the place where she grew up – Warrnambool a rural Victorian coastal town. Unlike the usual oversaturated phone pictures made in tourist towns, Clare’s colour palette is subdued and the mood sombre. Poignantly, the book is punctuated by tender portraits of local inhabitants – many linked to Clare’s life.

Here’s what Clare says about her book:

When the Sun Sleeps is a photographic exploration of the small Australian coastal city of Warrnambool and the stories embedded within its social and environmental ecologies. Growing up in the area, I felt torn between staying and leaving, travelling and dwelling between city and country. This project documents another side of Warrnambool, with notions associated to monotonous remote living and the people who embrace this lifestyle, beneath the grey skies, stagnant streets and desolate coastline.

The work depicts an honest contrast to the usual touristic and cliched imagery of my hometown, while investigating clashing ideas to both question and celebrate rural living through long-form documentary and the traditions of photography that responds to place. When the Sun Sleeps is a research driven project that pushed me to read and understand more relevant scholarly texts, that were based around the psychology of place attachment. Photographers including Abigail Varney (mentor), Vanessa Winship and Tim Carpenter visually influenced the series.


Book for sale? – In the future


Instagram: @clare.jellie


This publication was made throughout the Bachelor of Photography final year folio subject at Photography Studies College, Melbourne in the Photojournalism/Documentary major. Student projects are driven by in-depth research and work is made continuously across the year with critical review from staff, peers and guests and guided by an external mentor. Students are encouraged to create outcomes that are linked and expand across the formats of exhibition, book and the digital platforms.


Dr Kristian Häggblom

Educator: MA Photography Course Convener, Photography Studies College


A photo honours student at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne.
Jake Nerimovsky – All that is Solid Melts to Air

Jake wanted to use images to process his growing sense of disillusionment and despair for future that feels increasingly precarious. He wanted to think about the way that things he once depended upon have come to liquefy. Absolutes evaporate in a culture where the parameters of truth are ever more elastic, contorted by new forces of post-millennial capitalist culture.

He uses book form because sequence and rhythm are important to the way his images communicate. It also provides him with an opportunity to present his work to a viewer in an intimate context that aligns with the gravity of the conversations he seeks to initiate.

Jake Nerimovsky comments on his book:

All that is Solid Melts to Air is a photo documentary project that aims to share the felt experience of precarity that pervades contemporary life. I consider that elements of fiction are paramount in communicating a closer representation of truth in reality. I made this book as a way to visualise affects that are real but invisible within the contemporary cultural landscape. Having made 4 photobooks throughout my studies, I’ve found that the photobook form is the most appropriate method for me to communicate an idea or story.

My influences for this book comes from artists Lieko Shiga, Trent Parke, Christian Patterson and Katrin Koenning. I’m interested in making handmade photobooks and this is my first attempt at creating something by hand. The project is still ongoing and I aim to make a revised version in the future.


Book details: An edition of 3 all of which have been sold



In the short history of Photo honours at RMIT we have had a number of our graduates recognise the opportunities provided by the book format. Students have seen that making books allows them to enact encounters with their audience that is more comprehensive and intimate than those afforded through exhibition alone.


Dr Ray Cook

Lecturer in Photography


A Student of the Arts and Design Degree at Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
Jacob Hamilton – Second Son

In his photobook Second Son Jacob Hamilton explores the landscape from his position as a New Zealander of Maori, European and Cook Island descent. Acknowledging these cultural connections allows him to manoeuvre fluidly through various materials, mediums, and time frames.

The book is strong in both self-portrait and landscape images which along with an innovative layout work to rehabilitate a sense of disconnection between land and self. He cites Daido Moriyama’s ‘New Shinjuku’ and Coley Brown’s ‘Deeper than Night’ as two photobooks that were instrumental in the conception of his own work.


Second Son was made within the framework of the BCE, a three year full time, arts and design degree run by Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland. Within the programme students choose both a major and a suite of supporting electives to extend their interests.

The strength and status of the contemporary photobook means that there are always students who are engaged in this as a primary medium to communicate their ideas.

The programme celebrates the success of Jacob’s book and Saynab Muse’s Imaanshaha which have both become Photoforum publications within the last two years.


Allan McDonald

Lecturer Photography

John Tiger Shen – 他乡(Taxiang)

John Tiger Shen  – Taxiang (他乡)

John Tiger Shen is a young Chinese / New Zealand photographer living in Auckland, Aotearoa. Through much of 2020 he was able to navigate lockdowns and bubbles to work on his Honours year project Taxiang. The body of photographs explores the experiences of the wider Chinese community, many of whom live in the North Shore suburbs of Auckland.

John gained intimate access to the interior spaces of his subjects and produced a sensitive communal portrait of the people he encountered. The carefully posed portraits are complemented in his photobook by a series of equally well observed and subtle interior views that provide further insight into the lives of his subjects.

John draws his inspiration from, amongst others, Alec Soth and a new wave of Chinese photographers and their publication of books such as Chen Ronghui’s Freezing Land and Zhang Xiao’s They.

John Tiger Shen’s statement about his work:

Taxiang (他乡) stands for foreign land in Chinese. Similar to the term ‘Hiraeth’, which is used to describe homesickness or nostalgia, or the feeling of longing for a home that never was.

As I set foot in this country, our family first settled in the suburb of Northcote, this is where I would integrate myself to this country. This would also be the reason I choose to set the ground boundaries of Taxiang to be based on the Northshore.

Moving to New Zealand at the age of 9, I found it difficult to truly identify myself in either of the two cultures. Since the start of my primary school till the end of high school, the environment shaped me to think from a more western perspective, but as I moved on into university my surroundings changed drastically as I started to engage more with the Chinese community. My perspective once again has shifted, leaving me wondering about my identity.

Spending half of my life in Auckland I have witnessed the growth of this complicated community over the past 10 years. What drove this project is looking at a collective group of Chinese people who sacrificed their previous life in China to move to this foreign land and using their journey to understand the community.


Taxiang (他乡) is available from the photographer for NZ$30 plus postage.


INSTAGRAM: @johnshenphotos_


Whitecliffe College delivers a Photography and Media Arts specialisation within the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree as well as BFA(Hons) and MFA pathways. In 2015 the Photo Media department established a semester long photobook project as part of the third year of the BFA in response to developments in photobook publishing around the world. In the same year that the course started Whitecliffe had two student finalists in the NZ Photobook of the Year Awards, one of whom received a Self-Published Commended place (The Inbetween by Georgia Periam, 2015). Whitecliffe students have continued to make photobooks and to be finalists in the ANZ Photobook of the Year Awards. The Year 3 Photobook course is now a well-established part of the Photo Media offering at Whitecliffe and is widely recognized within the NZ photobook community as being one of the only courses specifically dealing with the photobook.

Whitecliffe’s Photo Media department staff include the photographers: David Cowlard (Programme Leader), Caryline Boreham and Anton Maurer and over the years the photobook course has had input from artists, photographers and designers such as Solomon Mortimer, Simon Devitt, Anita Tótha and Jonty Valentine.


IG @whitecliffe_photomedia

David Cowlard

Programme Leader – Photo Media


FROM AN Honours Undergraduate Submission at Ilam School of Fine Arts at Canterbury UNIVERSITY, Christchurch NZ.
Summer Robson – ABC for Sluts

ABC’s for Sluts  is a humorous and subversive book. Its modest size, materials and form – of which assume the look and feel of a very traditional paperback novel – belie its strong and oftentimes uncomfortable, or at least confronting content and message. Making good use of humour and employing stylised, theatrical images alongside simple text definitions of sayings or terms used within one Christchurch strip club, Robson’s goal is to assert an agency of voice and sense of pride for herself and her fellow co-workers. In doing this, and especially when taken alongside other facets of her larger body of work, the book is both provocative and educational. It plays with cliché, tropes and innuendo in a contemporary and oftentimes surprising way. Its main strength resides, in my mind at least, in its assertive voice. This voice does not try to ‘sell’ a profession or lifestyle, rather provokes the reader into dialogue. In its combination between text and image, ABC for Sluts makes me question the absurdity of many things often considered taboo but that ultimately come down to basic human nature and unquestioned social conditioning.

ABC’s for Sluts forms one part of a larger, ongoing body of work, Get That Bread. The book includes images that loosely illustrate slang words used by those who work alongside me within the sex industry. Overall, the book aims to contribute to discussions surrounding sex work and sexuality by investigating areas of empowerment and expression of personal freedoms.

Summer Robson comments on her book:

Negative experiences have caused me to be cautious when telling people of my involvement in the industry – the taboo and often confronting nature of this project has been intimidating. I have been laughed at, ridiculed, discriminated against, and disowned by those that I considered to be close friends. The stigma surrounding my line of work has led me to fear that I will not be accepted or respected by people when they find out what I do for a job. In my practice, I question where the stigma comes from, and I now yearn to contribute to progressive and inclusive discussions that might affect change. In short, I want to speak from within and from a position of empowerment. My passion for this project comes down to my feminist view that women deserve to have full autonomy over their bodies. Feminists have fought for these rights and have come so far, but the fight far from over.



The photography studio within the Ilam School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury has a longstanding interest in teaching aspects of photobook, zine and publication conceptualisation, design and production. Acknowledging the important role publications have in the packaging and widespread distribution of photographic bodies of work – the proliferation of new digital printing technologies and online sales platforms have revolutionised the way artists can engage on an international stage  – students are taught to think about the form of the book as integral to the communication of their ideas, rather than simply a vessel to present a series of images. To this end, the programme at Ilam introduces students to the history and culture of the photobook world within the second year of study. A semester-long to conceive of and produce a body of work in the form of a photobook is prescribed in the third year of study.



Tim J. Veling

Senior Lecturer in Photography


FROM THE Bachelor of Photography – Photo Art Major course at Queensland College of Art, Griffith UNIVERSITY, Brisbane.
Rhianna Phillips 555


This little handmade book feels like a treasured memory. The artist combined family archive photographs that concern her paternal family farm and reconstructed a speculative narrative. Reading through the pages I can almost feel my bare feet sinking in the soil on this farmland.

Rhianna Phillips’ artist’s statement:

Using vernacular photography sourced from both my family and personal archive I am attempting to pull together frames of time and memory to form a singular reconstructed narrative. The narrative thread concerns my exploration of my paternal family’s collective memory of our family farm. I look closely at the relationship between this collective memory and place. Place holding presence and consciousness and even a memory of its own. My family and I are an index of the farm and it is imprinted with our memories.

Louis Lim

Photobook Guest Lecturer and Coordinator of LiveImage printing Lab @ QCA

PLEASE NOTE: As of the end of the 2020 academic year Photography Degrees are no longer offered at the Queensland College of Art.


FROM THE Master of Photography Program at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne.
Morganna Magee – All the Things Unsaid

Morganna Magee’s photobook All the Things Unsaid is a sublime phycological investigation of deep and dark psychological processes and the capacity of the camera to facilitate healing. Magee’s transcendent images of forest and animal familiars provide succour that supports the viewer to absorb the unyielding gaze of family allowing each other to be seen again.

A statement from Magee about her work:

All the things unsaid explores a personal narrative of reconciliation with my family through the process of making photographs. I use the camera as a conduit for reconciliation with my family from whom I have spent a decade estranged. This project explores the ruptures caused by grief and loss and aims to explore the cathartic possibilities of slow photography to pull affects from the body into the image. Through visual interpretations of these ruptures and their impacts, the project seeks to acknowledge that grief is a state of being that not only shapes familial and personal identities but alters ways of seeing.





The Master of Photography is designed for photographers, artists and creative industry professionals to advance their skills and enliven their practice. It is the
only of its kind in Australia. Taking two year full-time, the program is scaffolded to support the development of both photographic thinking and scholarly practice.
The program culminates with a resolved presentation of a signficant body of work, supported by exegetical writing that contextualises and analysises the work
produced. The photobook is a powerful format requires intelligent choices and sensitive design that contains an effective challenge in the context of a master of
photography project.


Dr Alison Bennett
Lecturer in Photography
Program Manager, Master of Photography
School of Art



A STUDENT of the Photojournalism/Documentary Major in THE Bachelor of Photography at PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIES COLLEGE, MELBOURNE
Josh Smith – Lignite


Lignite depicts Victoria’s Latrobe Valley as dystopian terrain that could be anywhere in the world. The stark B&W imagery is made even bolder by the sophisticated and contemporary book design. The project makes use of cinematic influences to create a dialogue on how we inhabit – and often abuse – the environment.

Lignite examines ecology and place in the modern industrial landscape of the Latrobe Valley – a landscape which has been shaped by decades of environmental discourse and mistreatment due to the region’s extended coal mining history. The mining of brown coal (lignite) was the Latrobe Valley’s lifeblood for generations, though its production and consumption not only benefited the local economy but also inevitably cost the stability of human health and the environment.

Throughout the formative stages of Lignite, I found myself deeply interested in the way’s industrial infrastructure and man—made objects assert a presence within the natural landscape. There were certain characteristics to these kinds of scenes that seemed vaguely dystopian to me. At the time I was ingesting a vast quantity of old films; like Werner Herzog’s Where the Green Ants Dream, Peter Weir’s The Cars that Ate Paris and Ted Kotcheff’s Wake in Fright. As a result of subjecting myself to films of this nature, I feel that I began to subconsciously view the Latrobe Valley and its open cut mines as an extension of these worlds. Combining this sentiment with a narrative that speaks to the region’s history of coal mining and its subsequent impact on the natural landscape was when I felt the project begin to take shape.

Lignite finds deeper contextualisation within a history of mine fires that have led to an increased risk of health-issues and mortality amongst the population – specifically, the Hazelwood fire of 2014. This fire burnt for over forty days and blanketed the region in a cloud of toxic smoke. Additionally; from the increasing redundancy of coal mining within the Latrobe Valley, emerged one of Victoria’s poorest socio-economic regions. The project engages its subject matter with a rhetoric that looks at human accountability within the spaces we occupy.


Instagram: @jos.smth




Book For Sale?: – Not Yet


This publication was made during the Bachelor of Photography final year folio subject at Photography Studies College, Melbourne in the Photojournalism/Documentary major. Student projects are driven by in-depth research and work is made continuously across the year with critical review from staff, peers and guests and guided by an external mentor. Students are encouraged to create outcomes that are linked and expand across the formats of exhibition, book and the digital platforms.



Dr Kristian Häggblom

Educator: MA Photography Course Convener, Photography Studies College, Melbourne


Doug Spowart …..PHOTO: Victoria Cooper


In the contemporary world anyone is, or can be, a photographer. Digital technology has disrupted the film and the darkroom and the need for trained technicians to wrangle out of chemical technologies a high quality result. The camera has also been subjected to digital transformation that has turned every photograph made and printed into a masterly Zone System perfect result.

Now that anyone can master the technology where does this leave photographic education? While I must concede that digital technology demands that training must be undertaken to master the range of expected outcomes required for commerce, family and art. The true purpose of contemporary photographic education must be centered on the development of visually aware people capable of creating highly successful communication in the form of still images, sequences and video.

Today’s academically trained photographer will transcend the milieu of ‘photomakers’ by their ability to tell stories in their photographs through representing what is before them through unique, innovative and conceptually profound viewpoints.

For the teacher the challenge will not be about mastering technology but rather these aesthetic capabilities. The answer as to how the mind, eye and the image can be honed and developed could be found within the idea of the photobook. Rising from obscurity 20 years ago the photobook has become a behemoth in the world of both trade and personal publishing.

The making of a photobook requires the development of a concept, planning and coordinating the creation of images, photo editing – not only digitally but also the sequence of images that are being considered. The bookmaker will need to articulate their ideas and perhaps write components of the book or collaborate with others chosen for that task. Ancillary knowledge and skill in areas of typography and book design, capabilities for collaboration, understanding the prepress, binding industries and time management will also be required.

The photobook then becomes a holistic or capstone assessment task for any photographic training institution. And through this process the student will not only be able to provide evidence of skills and knowledge and but also their achievement in creating and presenting a significant body of work.

May many other institutions offering photography studies consider embebding photobooks in their training and assessment strategies.


.Dr Doug Spowart

BIOG: Doug Spowart has for over 50 years collected photographically illustrated books and in 2012 completed a PhD on the topic of self-publishing in the digital age. He has extensively researched, judged and commentated on the photobook in Australia and New Zealand including a presentation at the 2017 Vienna Photo Book Festival.

As publisher and content producer for the Antipodean Photobook Blog he promotes internationally activities, events and publications emerging from our local region.

Spowart curated a collection of Australian and New Zealand photobooks to extend the Martin Parr collection of Antipodean photobooks in Tate Britain. And in 2019 he coordinated World Photobook Day events at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.



Please let us know what you think about this post …

Feedback is always appreciated …!






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s