Landskrona Foto Library or The difference between a photography book and a photobook

Since the art of photography was invented in 1839, millions of books have been published illustrated with photographs. That does not make them “photobooks”. Over the same period of time, tens of thousands of books have been published dealing with dedicated to, or dependent on photography. These are not automatically “photobooks” either.

The first photography books were manuals of a technical nature describing how to take photographs, since the process and the apparatus required were complicated. The books did not contain any photographs because screen printing had not yet been invented, in other words it was impossible to print halftones. After a time, books were illustrated with pasted-in photographs. One of the first Swedish examples was Molins fontän (“Molin’s Fountain”, 1866). But it wasn’t a “photobook”, more a “photography book with the feel of an album”. Over the next two decades, a handful of “photography books with scientific ambitions” were published. They contained 8–10 pasted-in photographs of stranded whales, cloud formations and rune-stones. In addition, “toilet yearbooks” were published with a single pasted-in photo, usually of an actor or one of the little princes of the time.

Eventually, printing processes such as photogravure, intaglio and offset were developed. Print runs increased, as did the number of photographic images in each book. What we mean by a “photobook” today is a phenomenon that arose internationally around 1930. Photographers created books together with dynamic designers/publishers. Now it was about pairing and putting photographs against each other, to create an expression above and beyond the photographs by means of rhythm, cropping, layout and typography. About fifteen years ago the world saw a dramatically increased interest in photobooks. Martin Parr and Gerry Badger published The Photobook: A History in three volumes, and Christie’s in London began to hold special photobook auctions. (Important lesson: 75–90% of the economic value of a photobook lies in original protective cover being retained – whether or not it shows a photograph.) Today, the interest in the photobook as a bearer of culture is greater than ever. Landskrona Foto embraces this development, for instance through the annual Landskrona Foto & Breadfield Dummy Award.

Per Hemmingsson Collection.

In 2018 Landskrona Foto acquired Per Hemmingsson’s (1937–2017) collection of photographic literature. It is one of the finest and most extensive private collections of photographic literature in Scandinavia, covering the history of photography from its birth to the present day. Hemmingsson was a photo historian, critic and author. In 1971 he played an important role in the establishment of a photographic museum – as an independent department of Moderna Museet in Stockholm. His expert opinions were respected and valuable for museums, auction houses, antiquarian book dealers, and a new generation of Scandinavian photo historians.

His working library consists of about 2,000 books and brochures, not counting magazines. The collection covers and reflects topics such as Photography Collections and Museums, the Anatomy of Photobooks, Optics, Art and Photography, Still Life and Figure Studies, Style and Fashion, Interiors, Cities and Landscapes, Wars and Disasters, Everyday Life and Social Documentation, Portraits etc.

Our growing collection of books is housed in a beautiful room next to the exhibition hall. Out of 4000, there are currently around 1000 books on display.

Opening hours

Per Hemmingsson’s collection constitutes a significant part of Landskrona Foto’s reference and research library. There are older rarities with pasted-in photographs, published in just a few copies, along with the very latest international photobook releases. The library is open during the opening hours of ongoing exhibitions.

Landskrona Foto collaborate with Landskrona City Library and and part of Landskrona Foto Reference and Research Library, will be made available at the city library. Through the library’s generous opening hours and the librarians’ specified knowledge, more people will have the opportunity to take part in this unique collection. The entire photo library will also be searchable nationally.