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Photo of San Quentin State Prison, found in a thrift store. Photographer unknown.

2013 will bring with it many new things and revelations. Among them: proof that the Mayans were full of crap and also, the Prison Photography photobook.

Some of you with your ears to the ground have known this announcement was coming, but it is exhilarating for me every time I think about a PP book. I’m proud to make a formal announcement.

The book, with the working title American Prisons: Photography In The Era of Mass Incarceration, brings together in 120 pages the research I conducted during Prison Photography On The Road and will also draw on previous work here on Prison Photography.

This week, Kevin Messina, founder of non-profit publishing house Silas Finch, and I laid out the format, the target-audience and the goals for the book. Silas Finch has published the work of Daniel D’Ottavio and Simon Hoegsberg. Raymond Meeks collaborated with Silas Finch to produce the Orchard series – three books of the work of Deborah Luster, Wes Mills and Mark Steinmetz. It is expected that the prison photography book will be – in terms of edition size – Silas Finch’s largest project to date.

In addition to the standard version (priced reasonably to secure as wide a readership as possible and stay true to the spirit of PPOTR), we’re producing a limited edition run of 100 books. Furthermore, plans are afoot for an App/digital version, which will include more images, audio of photographer interviews and potentially content from beyond American shores.

Portland based book maker and friend Rory Sparks (head honcho at EmSpace) is consulting on printing and design.

The planned publish date is September 2013. It’s going to be a busy year bringing together the work of 40+ photographers and penning words to do their work justice. My task is to frame four decades of American prison photography within a thesis that remains powerfully committed to social justice and accessible for all readers.

Part activism and part journalism, we intend the book to be a beautiful object. The images will dictate the mood and the narrative. Images are the main focus; they are the hook. My words will follow in an essay giving the 80+ pages of photography a context. Although it’s a historical survey we want to avoid producing something akin to an exhibition catalogue. It’ll be a fine balance, but if we achieve make it then we might just create a photobook that’s compelling and unique. It may even chart new territories.

Now, to work.

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