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Background

The Observers is an online publication featuring visionaries in photography and photo books that inspire their work.

We've interviewed over 50 visionaries and curated 200+ photo books. Guests include Pete Souza, Joel Meyerowitz, Makeda Best, Kevin Kelly, George Lois, Tyler Mitchell, Martin Parr, Shaniqwa Jarvis, Kathy Ryan, Elliott Erwitt, Jonas Akerlund, Miranda Barnes, Jamel Shabazz, and many more.

Built with my co-founder, Wesley Verhoeve.
Illustrations by Jeffrey Phillips.
Logo and wordmark by Zuzanna Rogatty.

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"You are so lucky to be living in a time when photography books are abundant. On days when you feel like you’ve got nothing to say, flipping through a book of photographs can charge you with the desire to go out and shoot. But, it’s not about making photographs that look like other artists’ work. It’s about finding a comparison between your impulses and theirs, which can serve as an encouragement and inspiration for you when you’re out on the streets. I've used books my whole life as a photographer. I've used them as a resource to inspire me." 
— Joel Meyerowitz

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Kathy Ryan has been the Director of Photography at The New York Times Magazine since 1987.

Kathy shares editorial insights, why her photography is simply about a love for light, and five photo books that inspire her.

"The best portraits are the ones where the craft doesn't outweigh the character of the sitter. At the same time, the character of the sitter isn't going to really come across and be powerful enough, unless the craft of the photographer or the portraitist is strong enough. I like when I look at portraits that live between the two. It's like a high-wire act sometimes. Really great photographers have to walk that, where they bring all of their facility with making pictures to the task."

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Why photo books?

The project was inspired by our shared love for physical books  because they provide us with an undivided and quiet space to learn. They slow us down, which is important in today’s digital world.

A photo book pushes you to observe and learn through the great work of others. We study the greats because originality can be achieved only by knowing what came before us.

Through this project, my partner Wesley and I had the incredible opportunity to interview over 50 visionaries and curate over 200 photo books.  

We learned that these objects are as personal and important as any other artifact in a photographer's life. These books helped them find their voice and purpose. 

Check out the project.

PROJECTS

CraneTo weave words is to sew worlds.

MatchRe-emerging in the universe they created.

COLLINS IDEASEditorial publication for a globally renown strategy and design company.

The altMBATeam Headshots

Connect the DotsStrategies and meditations on self-education.

The ObserversThe Observers is an online publication featuring visionaries in photography and the photo books that inspire their work.

CreativeMorningsShaping voice and building systems in service of the world's largest in-person creative community.

Contact

Email: hello [at] pauljun [dot] me
Twitter: @pauljun_
Instagram: @pauljunbear

© Paul Jun 2021