Photo Book Selections 2023

The Harvey Milk Photo Center is developing a collection of photo books from Bay Area artists within the David Johnson Reference Library. Here are the selections from the 2023 photo book open call.

Stow Lake: Images from a Man-made Lake by Mitsu Yoshikawa

About the Artist: Mitsu Yoshikawa was born in Japan. He studied photography under Peter Stackpole at Academy of Art College in San Francisco, and moved to New York City where he worked for Yomiuri Newspaper and as a freelance photographer. After several years, he accepted a nine-month assignment taking photographs in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka for airline travel magazines. Following that assignment, he returned to Tokyo, where he continued to work as a freelance photographer and expanded his experience to include photographing, editing and publishing yearbooks. He photographs nature and wilderness scenes of the San Francisco Bay Area with large format cameras and also started using digital photography recently.

About the book: When I look at landscapes closely, I see the myriad details and subjects that, together in the thousands, create the total landscape. Though often ignored, these small pieces, individually, convey strong messages—sometimes with greater intensity than the total. I try to find these strong messages hidden in the details and bring them to the surface, and to the notice of people. Each photograph contains thousands of bits of information, but the photographer has to create messages, through the images selected, to the audience. More importantly, each photographer has to create his or her own messages by choosing the best tools and equipment to capture the right momentum for the subject and message.  Large format cameras are the best for me to use to capture the subjects and convey the messages I want to convey.

Artist’s Website:

Instagram handle: @mitsu.yoshikawa

‘Unfolding: Color of Life – Old Delhi’ by Laila Nahar

About the Artist: Laila Nahar is a lens-based artist in California, USA. She lived her life in stark cultural contrast, born and brought up in Bangladesh and eventually migrated to the US in her late 20’s for pursuing higher studies in Engineering. Laila recently retired from the high-tech industry after 24 years to devote full-time to the passion of her life as a photo and book artist.

Laila is primarily a self-taught photographer exploring belonging, memory, cultural and collective identity. Lately, she has become increasingly fascinated with hand-made photo book making.

Laila had solo exhibitions from the ‘Memories from Bangladesh’ series in Steps Gallery (Arizona) and Nelson Gallery (California). Photographs from this series are in permanent collections of ASU and UCDavis photography Museums.

About the book: Not every experience appears in my mind as a book, some does and for some I become the part of that story that can only be narrated in a book. As I walked the old city of Delhi it was life at its infinite wondrous variation. Each nook and each corner are at its unique existence, yet no one would exist in its glorious beauty without the rest. A story of one linked to another and none losing its identity. It is a spectacle of color, fragrance, sound and above all the depth of life. Nothing is orchestrated, yet all are sung from the invisible strings of a great tune. I get pulled and submerged into its comforting depth.

This is a book that symbolizes the unfolding, folding and linkage of life. A life that is vibrant without the pretense of ornamentation. It is a life of struggle, unadorned, and revealed; and it surrounds us, and it penetrates us. The book-form unfolds and depicts the color of life-waves. The juxtaposition of the photos and colors tries to bring the sense of vitality, and the structural element opens up an entry into a world of people, places and the many activities that make up life.

Artist’s Website:

Instagram handle: @naharlaila

Chas Chas by Luis Cobelo

About the Artist: Luis Cobelo Born in 1970 in Acarigua, Venezuela. Artist. 

He grew up and became a photographer between Venezuela and Spain. 

After a long and consolidated career as a photojournalist carrying out documentary projects in the Americas, Asia and Europe, which were published in magazines in Spain, Europe and Latin America, his work is currently based on art and the production of photobooks and exhibitions. 

His focus is on fantasy, magical realism and Latin American popular culture, where he generates stories from his personal perspective, reflecting on the process of transforming the everyday into the unusual, from the tragic to funny and vice versa.

Inspired by literature, popular culture, cinema, poetry, myths and traditions (including lies and gossip) he relies on the use of different types of realities that could well be magic tricks (without being a real magician), to create parallel worlds tailored to his own expectations.

He is based in San Francisco (California)

About the book: “Chas Chas” is a magic word, a magic trip. It’s a personal tribute to the city of Buenos Aires, through a particular and poetic neighborhood called Parque Chas.The project is inspired by an Argentinian comic book series of the same name that Luis Cobelo read 32 years ago. The comic reveals, in several chapters, the adventures of a writer who was told that fantastic and extraordinary things happen there. 

The reason that “out of the ordinary” things can take place is because the center of the neighborhood was architecturally constructed similar to a spider’s web or a labyrinth. So, that’s why they say that if you enter into that concentric form, you may never leave and magical things can happen to you. Many say that this is the reality and not what is out there. Essentially, in Parque Chas everything is possible.

Many years later, Luis decided to travel thousands of kilometers to see it for himself. But what really took him there was the desire to discover if the following saying which he heard about this mythical neighborhood was true: “Everything you ever lost in life, exists in Parque Chas”.

And yes, it does.

“Chas Chas” It reads like a graphic novel or a mystery story, with many layers of internal and external references. The flow of images conjures a smile-inducing dream logic that feels strangely rooted to the alternate reality of street life in this fantastic place.

All of this happens through Cobelo’s hallucinatory playful eyes, who move through the implausible stories a thousand times told that became real, only for those who want to believe. It is a snap, an intangible place where whoever and whatever was lost, will be found. Can be for everyone, except for those who want to know how magic tricks are done.

NOTE: in the exhibitions, this work includes the performance/presence of Pilar, Luis Cobelo’s sister. 

Artist’s Website:

Instagram handle: @churrito and @chaschasluiscobelo

Diptychs by Jocelyn Liu

About the Artist: Jocelyn Lui’s photo practice focuses on documentary-style observations of chill views (or tranquil landscapes) and quiet, overlooked moments. She was introduced to film photography in high school and has been making images in her spare time ever since. Currently, her favorite camera is the Olympus OM-2n.  

About the book: Diptychs is a photo zine that explores image sets of landscapes and portraits made primarily in the Bay Area. In it Lui plays with negative space, horizon lines and alignment to help complete the image sets.

Artist’s Website:

Instagram handle: @jocelyn_lui

Darkroom by Phyllis Christopher

About the Artist: Phyllis Christopher’s fearless and tender photographs fuse lesbian sex and queer protest against the backdrop of a city in flux. Relocating to San Francisco from her hometown Buffalo in the late-1980s, Christopher began to collaborate with her subjects to make images in which documentary and performance converge.

About the book: Dark Room brings together fifteen years of Christopher’s work, negotiating street, club, and studio, with camera in hand, to compose a portrait of a community simultaneously defining radical articulations of queer lesbian sexuality and defending its bodily autonomy in the face of right-wing politics, the AIDS crisis and urban gentrification. Reproducing photographs of startling intensity and sensuality alongside new writing by Susie Bright, Laura Guy, Michelle Tea and an interview with Shar Rednour, Dark Room is a heartfelt record of Christopher’s devotion to an analogue tradition, to the pleasures of photographs and the community that made them.

Artist’s Website: 

Instagram handle: @phyllischristopher

Postcards from the Pandemic by Candice J. Jacobus

About the Artist: Wanderer, stroller, flâneuse. Photographer Candice J. Jacobus roams the world looking, noticing and making images of people, and the places they inhabit.

An observer of street life, whether in her home of San Francisco or in cities around the world, Candice searches out the byways and markets where locals carry on their public, or not so public, lives. Often, it’s not the individuals, but the doorway they may emerge from, or the corner that they may round that captures her eye. Sometimes a window beckons, what is happening within? Often it is the ghost of a being converging with time past and future in a shop window.  Always there is the sense of a human presence.

About the book: Looked at from a distance of nearly three years, the empty city could be the result of any number of modern disasters, but it was a plague. Images from tourist-mecca San Francisco’s suddenly childless playgrounds, vacant transit hubs, and cable carless streets could speak to a nuclear disaster, but instead they are Postcards from the Pandemic.

Included in the book are also many images of the masked strangers Candice Jacobus encountered in her wanderings: everyday folks with handmade protection against the unknown menace.

Artist’s Website:

Instagram handle: @cjverite

Harvey Milk Photo Center Photo Book Open Call 2024 (TBD)

Bay Area Photobook Collection The Harvey Milk Photo Center is developing a collection of photobooks from Bay Area artists within the David Johnson Reference Library and invites artists and publishers from the Bay Area to submit their books for consideration.

The selected books will be displayed in the David Johnson Reference Library at the Harvey Milk Photo Center in San Francisco. In addition, the books will be featured on our social media and will go into the permanent collection at the Center. Five books will be selected per cycle and will be judged by a committee from the Center.

Our aim is to promote and showcase a wide variety of photobooks. We are interested in photobooks independently or commercially published, including handmade, self-published, book dummies, zines, limited-edition publications, and other printed matters. Books that feature the work of more than one artist are also eligible for submission.

Submissions open Date TBD.

Notifications will go out TBD.

Please submit the following below:

1. Your artist statement and a short description of the book including number of pages, approximate number of photos, dimensions, and materials
2. Six to ten images of your book
3. An up to date CV
4. Your website and social media handles

Click here to apply