Interview: Eanna Freeney – Passionate About Urban Photography
Eanna Freeney is a Irish photographer based in London, UK. He’s also the founder of The Velvet Cell publishing house, an independent publisher of limited edition photography books. The Velvet Cell Books was established to give a platform to similar photographers who are passionate about urban photography. It was founded in 2010 and ran for a year as an online magazine before going on to print artists books. To date it was published the work of seven photographers, from all over the world, including New York, Amsterdam, Madrid, Vienna and London.
Name: Éanna Freeney
Place of residence: London, UK
Food: Anything thats edible
Why did you set up The Velvet Cell?
Back in 2010 I was growing increasingly disillusioned with mainstream photography. For me there seemed to a lot of replications and it rarely, in my experiences, diverged from standard landscape or portraiture. Not that this is a bad thing but I felt that my own personal preferences in photography wasnt much represented yet I knew of lots of urban photographers. So I endeavoured to try to change the scene by myself and set up The Velvet Cell. And this is where we are at today.
What are the objectives of The Velvet Cell?
The main objectives of The Velvet Cell are to celebrate the work of great photographers. We are not distinctly here to represent either amateurs or professionals but at the moment it seems semi-professionals are doing a lot of great work out there. We are interested in photographers who are interested in as much of whats behind the photograph as well as the photograph itself. We aim to give a platform to urban photographers, and purposely leave that as vague as possible to include as many artists as possible. I want, when people pick up a book or check out the website, that people feel they are seeing something different.
The Velvet Cell specialises in urban based photography, why exactly this kind of subject?
Urban photography can only be defined really in relation to what it’s not. While portraiture deals with people as subjects, and street photography with the amblings of everyday life, urban photography can be interpreted as the artist sees fit and certainly overlaps in many places with other genres. How I would define it is as interested in the workings of the urban environment, whether physically, mentally or otherwise. For me it is a genre massively influenced by great photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz who was interested in the city as a structure and rarely shot at street level, preferring instead to capture the skyline and its shapes and forms, and Brassai, who’s project ‘Paris De Nuit‘ is a personal favourite of mine. Often urban photographers deal with issues of alienation, loss of identity and other themes in the urban environment.
Can you tell me something about the process of making a book? How long does it take from the initial spark until you’ve got it in stores?
The actual process of making the book can take quite a long time before everything is perfect. I usually have quite a few artists in mind who I’d like to work with and I am always getting contacted by others too which is always nice. The process begins with a dialogue with the photographer before we go on to decide what type of book and what theme we will follow. I usually spend a while then designing and trying to find the right printer for the job. After getting the book back then from the printers I need to update the website and write up a message for our subscribers. As we are a young company, not yet a year old, I spend a lot of time contacting online sites to do reviews and sending off samples to shops around the world. Its a long process but necessary.
What attracts you to photobook publishing?
What I love about publishing so much is that I get to work with people I admire about a medium that I am passionate about. My aspirations are to be a photographer myself so to work through photography is a pleasure for me. What is special about publishing, however, is that it constantly regenerates itself. Every new book is an act of renewal, a chance to try brand new things, to iron out any things you wanted to do differently from the last book. A whole new chance to start afresh. I try to keep the books similar but noticeably different. I hope, as our list of publications grow, that new styles and themes will emerge.
Which book will be next?
Our next book….hmmm Im not sure I can tell you too much about it as I want to keep it under wraps for the moment. We have just released our 7th book, however – Urban Satori by Belgian photographer Nykoh. Nykoh is a very talented photographer who I have followed for a long time so it was a pleasure to get to work with him properly. Nykoh is passionate about capturing the beauty in the mundane of the everyday city scene. This theme is brought to the fore in the book. You can see it here.
What are your plans for the future of The Velvet Cell?
Right now we are planning for a book launch for our next book that will also form an exhibition for all the titles published so far. This is very exciting but will require a lot of planning. It will be on January 26th on Brick Lane at Beach London.
The future as far as The Velvet Cell is concerned?
To continue with quality publications and to generate more interest. We are inspired by the likes of Nieves and Seems and hope to follow in their path someday but with our own style and ethos. ❚