In this special episode the first of an irregular series of talks with non-photographers involved with photography, Grant Scott speaks with founder/curator/artist/publisher Craig Atkinson about his publishing project Cafe Royal Books. They discuss the pressures of the long form project, publishing decisions, marketing and the impact Cafe Royal Books has had on British documentary photography.
Craig Atkinson/Cafe Royal Books
Based in Southport, England, Craig Atkinson is a senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Central Lancashire. He founded Café Royal Books in 2005 and new booklets are published frequently, typically one per week and in short runs of 250 copies which are sold both directly and through bookshops in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, Japan, Canada and Switzerland. The booklets have a consistent print quality, paper and layout, laid out to a grid system, of usually 36 pages in length, slightly under A5 size and predominantly black & white and affordable. The booklets predominantly document social, historical and cultural change, including themes of youth, leisure, music, protest, race, religion, industry, identity, architecture and fashion, using both previously unpublished work and photographs from archives. It has published work by over 100 photographers, including John Benton-Harris, John Bulmer, John Claridge, John Deakin, Ken Grant, David Hurn, Chris Killip, Daniel Meadows, Tish Murtha, Jim Mortram, Martin Parr, Simon Roberts, Homer Sykes, Ed Templeton, Arthur Tress Janine Wiedel and Grant. In 2022 Café Royal Books held a retrospective exhibition titled Café Royal Books, Documentary, Zines and Subversion of 500 publications and 127 prints of work from those books at the Martin Parr Foundation. www.caferoyalbooks.com
After fifteen years art directing photography books and magazines such as Elle and Tatler, Scott began to work as a photographer for a number of advertising and editorial clients in 2000. Alongside his photographic career Scott has art directed numerous advertising campaigns, worked as a creative director at Sotheby’s, art directed foto8magazine, founded his own photographic gallery, edited Professional Photographer magazine and launched his own title for photographers and filmmakers Hungry Eye. He founded the United Nations of Photography in 2012, and is now a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, and a BBC Radio contributor. Scott is the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019), and What Does Photography Mean To You? (Bluecoat Press 2020). His photography has been published in At Home With The Makers of Style (Thames & Hudson 2006) and Crash Happy: A Night at The Bangers (Cafe Royal Books 2012). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was premiered in 2018.
Dr. Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was first screened in 2018 www.donotbendfilm.com. He is the presenter of the A Photographic Life and In Search of Bill Jay podcasts.
© Grant Scott 2023