BURN MAGAZINE: Rebecca’s Response

Here’s an excerpt from Rebecca’s response today on Burn Magazine to a comment by photographer Brian Frank. To read all the comments ––and the Q&A with Alex and Rebecca conducted by David Alan Harvey –– visit:


BRIAN FRANK: I would love to hear some of the processes you went through to edit, organize and then find a publisher for the book. I think that could be a wonderful topic of discussion for many people here [on Burn Magazine].

REBECCA NORRIS WEBB: Alex and I strongly believe in what we often call “intuitive editing,” in which we try to use the same eye that photographs in a spontaneous and intuitive way as the eye that edits one’s own work intuitively.

For Violet Isle, we didn’t see this as a collaborative project until the spring of last year.  It just so happens, soon after we made this decision, we were scheduled to teach a workshop in Peru, and started working on the edit each afternoon of the workshop when the participants were out photographing.  We started the edit the way we always do when editing each other’s work –– spreading out the photographs (on the floor, on a wall, or on a table) –– and then starting to “play” with them, making relationships with images until they begin to talk to each other formally, poetically, thematically.  We discovered during this Peru workshop that this was an ideal task to complement teaching, since teaching often leaves us quite exhausted, emotionally and creatively, and we often find it difficult to photograph our own projects after spending hours each day talking and looking at other people’s work.  But, as we found out in Peru, during a workshop we also happen to be in the perfect mindset to edit our own work.  In addition, it’s helpful to edit a book away from New York and our hectic schedule and our studio, and those day-to-day details that eat up so much time in a photographer’s life.  Anyway, at the end of the workshop, Alex and I showed the participants our first sequence of what ultimately became Violet Isle, and their comments were extremely helpful.  We finished editing the book in two other workshops –– one in Cadiz, Spain, the other in Venice, Italy.

As far as trying to find a publisher for this rather unusual joint book, we first approached a large, rather traditional art and photography book publisher.  Although there was strong initial interest in Violet Isle, it became clear the project was too off-beat for such a mainstream publisher.  We’d heard about a creative, new small publisher Radius Books –– and had met Darius Himes, one of the publishers –– who’d shown us a beautifully printed book they’d done of Mark Klett’s photographs.  So Alex and I decided to show our Violet Isle book dummy to Darius and the other Radius publishers. Interestingly, the very quality of the work that the larger, more traditional publisher saw as a weakness or detriment –– Violet Isle’s uniqueness –– was the same quality that Radius saw as one of the book’s strengths.

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One Response to “BURN MAGAZINE: Rebecca’s Response”

  1. Peter Eavis Says:

    Just a note to say how glad people will be that you’ve got this site going. You have a large body of followers on Flickr, many of whom have been inspired by your work.



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