FFO: COLLABORATIVE AND PLAYFUL BEHIND-THE-SCENE IMAGES OF UP-AND-COMING BANDS + ‘WONKY POP’ LOVERS
CONTEXT BEHIND THE BOOK (IN THE PHOTOGRAPHERS OWN WORDS):
‘FLING Vol. 1 is a photo book and installation that explores the meaning of the term wonky pop, coined by the band FLING. Inspired by DIY and punk aesthetics, the work delves into what it means to be “wonky” and captures that illusive moment between invisibility and fame. The photographs are mixed with FLING’s lyrics providing an intimate view beyond the engagement one could experience at a gig. The book of FLING Vol. 1 is released ahead of FLING’s first album.
I came across FLING through a sponsored Facebook post in June 2017 and I was hooked as I listened to an acoustic version of them playing ‘I’m Just A Dog’, they had a unique look and I thought they would be interesting to photograph so I got in touch and since that time we have worked together. I photographed them at their home in Leeds, their practice room in Bradford and venues in London. By February, I felt like I had a strong series of images and thought an ongoing documentary project would be a good focus for my Final Major Project on my BA.’
FLING Vol.1 has also just recently been purchased by the V&A museum library
THE TITLE AND THE CONTENT:
The title ‘FLING Vol.1’ is of course straight to the point, there’s no messing around with that; though the reader/viewer may of course not initially be familiar with the band and the actual context behind the series. The word ‘Fling’ is naturally rather intriguing and would probably draw a curious audience anyhow. Though the title probably could’ve been maybe a bit more imaginative, I feel the word ‘FLING’ luckily works well in this particular situation to draw attention to the photobook, as well as to also cleverly use the publication to promote FLING commercially as a band ahead of their first album release.
The content of photographs featured within the 80-page photobook plays around with the use of live-action images taken during FLING’s gigs along with other informal behind-the-scenes photographs shot whilst the band were recording demos/songs or if they instead were practicing with their band, or even if they were just generally hanging out together as friends and had a laugh together as bandmates/friends.
All of the photographs featured in the series share one similar trait – they make the viewer feel, admire, laugh. The images excite me as a reader and in oppose to many other ‘commercial’ photobooks the photographs don’t just document the band, they also capture the essence and spirit of the band members. All photographs treat each member of the band as a unique individual, celebrating their own personality traits within each and every lighthearted image.
Nearly all images were shot using a point and shoot Olympus 35mm film camera (specifically an Olympus Mju II), and this format undoubtedly suited the laid back documentation of this subject matter perfectly; capturing the highlights associated with being young, talented and having the opportunity to be 100% committed to being creative.
DESIGN OF THE BOOK:
The 80-page square format (7 x 7) softcover photobook was designed also by the photographer, Hannah Tointon.
The front cover design uses a unique and playful typeface in orange which fittingly works well to stand out boldly against the pale yellow block background of the book. The inclusion of the white circle on the front cover causes the design to replicate the appearance of a 7-inch single record sleeve, which adds to the overall design and references the context associated with the series. Though the front cover design could’ve also worked well through the use imagery to indicate the publication was actually a photo-book, by rejecting this approach and instead through focusing on the design aspect using only text and colour the front cover design works effectively through its simplicity and minimalism to draw a curious audience in.
The book opens with a blank page on the left, and on the right, the front cover design is repeated. From a viewers perspective as well as on a design level, I’m very unsure why the front cover design has been repeated again and its inclusion doesn’t necessarily ‘add’ anything to the book. One of the critiques I therefore have is that these opening pages have been wasted on the viewer sadly. The opening edit should start off with either the strongest images of the series or through instead including supporting text to open and contextualise the publication; describing the intentions behind the creation of the publication. I feel that the lack of text takes away from the book and the project therefore sadly becomes a bit less personalized and instead becomes more commercial. I think that the book would’ve hugely benefitted by including supporting text – either describing who ‘Fling’ were and what ‘Wonky Pop’ is, who the photographer is, and what their intentions of the project were etc.. as the viewer is sadly deprived of this vital information that adds to the publication and would definitely interest and inform the reader.
Tointon utilizes the design of the book to focus solely on the imagery. Overall a whopping 66 images of the band are featured within the 80 pages of the publication, whilst the other pages featured within the edit add to the design by including scans of doodles and lyrics written by the band members to separate some of the images. The doodles / scanned images help to keep the viewer’s attention throughout the overall publication from start to finish, and the drawings offer a more abstract visual outcome to the images. Sadly these scanned images are only included at the start of the book’s design rather than using them to evenly space out the overload of photos throughout the publication (which I think would’ve balanced the imagery more so).
The images placed at full bleed squared crop within the publication work very well as detail shots, and the photographs all in all are edited together and matched with careful consideration to the subjects or colours featured within the frame. Aesthetically, the film grain included in the images makes the photographs feel more atmospheric and reminiscent of the live shots fans take of bands present within the DIY scene. Each photograph within the heavy 80-page publication experiments either with the use of colour/tone, viewpoint, framing and the images concept which engages the viewer from start to finish.
The book was printed at CPI Anthony Rowe, a platform that helps authors/artists through the process of self-publishing. The print quality of the perfect bound publication is excellent, and the matt finish to the pages undoubtedly compliments the bold and colourful images. The custom 7 x 7 size of the book stands out from the ever so familiar a5 book size, which hugely benefits the overall look and feel of the publication.
(SIDE NOTE: LAST OF ALL ON THE DESIGN FRONT- WE’D LIKE TO DO A SPECIAL SHOUT-OUT TO TOINTION’S UNCLE BOB THAT FOUND THE PRINTERS – YOU GO UNCLE BOB!!)
DIY YOUTH: If there’s one thing you could add / change in relation to the publication/project, what would it be? Or would you not change anything at all?
HT: I am happy with the way the book has come out but seeing it finished I know there is a lot that I would change next time around. During the process I experimented with graphic design, ultimately I realized that my efforts needed a lot more work than I had time available and reverted back to straight photography. I found the process enjoyable and slightly destructive. Manipulating images is exciting and I think embodies the ‘wonky’ element well – something I would like to explore further in future FLING projects.
FEEDBACK – KEY STRENGTHS AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM:
‘FLING Vol.1’ is an excellent tribute to the collaboration shared between the photographer and the band which importantly led to the creation of the photo-project that was then formed into the precious publication ‘Fling Vol.1’. Fling Vol.1, therefore, acted tribute to the memories made between the band members.
The context behind the photo-book definitely makes the project more interesting, as the books’ intentions don’t seem to just promote the band commercially, it aims to explore themes surrounding music history and its context; with the book looking closely at the formation of “wonky pop” that was recently coined by FLING as a ‘new genre of music’ .
Though the publication is also a little photograph heavy, I wouldn’t necessarily change (either by adding or deducting) the number of images included in the overall publication. Each and every photograph featured within FLING Vol.1 adds to the photo-book, either working well aesthetically edited alongside another or through the image capturing a particular moment that interacts with the viewer, often through humour.
As it stands, there could have been many changes to the design of the book that would have enhanced the viewer’s overall experience, either through including supporting text that explained the projects intentions and the context behind the project or visually, by tweaking certain design aspects of the front cover and within the book’s internal structure. The book in some ways left me feeling like I wanted more from it and this may have been because the design was sadly rushed as discussed by the photographer. I would’ve liked to have seen the photographer/designer take a more personal stance within the publication. Due to this, I feel the publication still works amazingly on a promotional level to support Fling’s first album release commercially, however, on its own and without the support of the context through the writing this depersonalises the project which I feel probably restricts the audience that the book may appeal too – the book probably selling more to those that know the band, rather than to fans of photography and publications or those that aren’t fans of the band.
Overall, Fling Vol.1 makes a solid effort to promote the underground wonky pop band FLING and the publication acts as a tribute to that!
YOU CAN ALSO BUY ‘FLING VOL.1’ HERE FOR £10: