Christian Peterson Books

Christian Peterson, who many of you will know from his previous life as Associate Curator of Photographs at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, is now selling fine photography books, especially first editions, rare, out of print and signed. He has a website at where there are currently six catalogues online.

Catalog 1 — Miscellaneous

Catalog 2 — Evans, Frank & Friedlander

Catalog 3 — Pictorialism

Catalog 4 — Women Photographers

Catalog 5 — Nineteenth Century

Catalog 6 — Sets & Runs

More information and details on how to purchase books can be found here.

Photography Beyond Technique


I first met Tom Persinger when I spoke at the F295 Symposium back in 2008 and I’m really honoured that he asked me to be a contributor to his new book Photography Beyond Technique.

You can pre-order the book on Amazon now for shipping after January 21st.

Photography Beyond Technique — Essays from F295 on the Informed Use of Alternative and Historical Photographic Processes

Edited by Tom Persinger.

Photography is not dying and has not died. In fact, it is more vigorous than ever. It has been an ever-changing medium since its earliest days, and while near-obsession with the technology of the day may have defined photography over the course of its existence, photography is much more than hardware and software. Photography is communication, whether chemical or digital, tangible or ephemeral in form.

Photography Beyond Technique is a compelling selection of essays and images culled from the many excellent presentations given at the ten F295 events that reveal the thoughts and methods of some of today’s most exciting contemporary photographers.

These artists employ alternative, historical, or handmade processes and techniques, and share a comprehensive view of the medium: that the choice of photographic process is just as important as the decisions of content and subject. While other books concentrate solely on process, or theory, or artistic intent, none focus on photography in which these decisions are considered inseparable.

The book includes the following contributors and essays:

• Jo Babcock – One Thousand Invented Cameras
• Craig Barber – Memory, Nature, and Place
• Stephen Berkman – That Obscura Object of Desire: A Brief History
• Laura Blacklow – Imprecise Evidence
• Dan Burkholder – There is No Virtue in Difficulty
• Martha Casanave – Mystery, Memory, and Narrative
• Jill Enfield – Something Extraordinary
• Dan Estabrook – Notes on the Art of Failure
• Jesseca Ferguson – The Photograph as Reliquary
• Alan Greene – Imaginary Whole Plates or, Notes Towards the Reinvention of Photography
• James Hajicek & Carol Panaro-Smith – The Evolution of a Collaboration
• Robert Hirsch – Looking Backward, Seeing Forward: Reframing Visual History
• Robb Kendrick – There is No Command-Z
• John Metoyer – Synthesizing Centuries
• France Scully Osterman – Sleep
• Mark Osterman – Finding Confidence: Combining Process with Purpose
• Tom Persinger – Windows
• Jerry Spagnoli – Photograph, Material, and Metaphor
• Brian Taylor – The Art of Getting Lost
• Keith Taylor – In the Dark, Time Feels Different than When it is Light

Christian A. Peterson — Fine Photography Books


After more than thirty years as associate curator of photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Christian A. Peterson resigned last year to concentrate on writing about the history of photography and selling out-of-print photography books. He currently has two catalogues online, the first being a general selection from his vast collection while the second concentrates on Walker Evans, Robert Frank and Lee Friedlander.

I anticipate issuing about three catalogs a year, usually on particular themes and movements, such as nineteenth-century photography, pictorialism, and the Clarence H. White School.
(612) 824-2827

Working with Enrico Giannini in Florence

“What is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”
— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


The White Rabbit and Alice at Prof. Agostino Dessi’s.


I’ve just got back from a 12 day trip to Florence, where I had the unique opportunity of working with bookbinder, restorer and artist Enrico Giannini, thanks to Cy DeCosse. Cy and Enrico met back in the 1950s when Cy was studying in Florence on a Fulbright scholarship, and the two have remained friends since.


Enrico’s the fifth generation of a family that has bound books for all the Popes, most Heads of State and royalty since his great-great-grandfather established the business opposite the Pitti Palace in the mid 1800s. His daughter Maria is the sixth generation running the shop, leaving Enrico to now concentrate on teaching and passing on his considerable wealth of knowledge to others.


The past year of working at MCBA meant I had a good grounding in the basics of bookbinding, so this trip was all about picking up tips, tricks and techniques from a master craftsman. During the two weeks we casebound a couple of books, sewing the signatures onto ribbons and finishing the covers with book cloth and marbled endpapers. We worked at marbling paper and paring leather, discussed the differences between various leathers and tanning, and covered embossing and gold tooling with both leaf and foil. We made slipcases and portfolio boxes, and bound two photo albums for a client. And, of course, there were plenty of examples of restoration that he has undertaken and those that he’s preparing to work on.


In the gaps, we ate well.


What I found most encouraging was that he isn’t necessarily committed to doing things the traditional way. If there’s a modern material or technique available that makes life easier, then he uses it. He also explained the reasons and the science behind using a particular adhesive or paper or material and, like platinum printing, most if it has to do with humidity and moisture content.


As an aside, Enrico’s studio is small, really small. He also has a wicked sense of humor. By his own admission he’s an XXL artist in an XXS studio, and when a street vendor came around peddling cheap items, which happened regularly, he countered by trying to sell her his books and boxes, much to her frustration and our amusement.


I also got to spend some amazing time with a couple of Cy’s other friends and their families. A day out in the country at painter Mario Fallani‘s villa, in the Tuscan countryside mid-way between Florence and Siena, and a memorable last evening at the home of mask maker Prof. Agostino Dessi.


Grazie mille, Enrico e Cy!


Paring leather




Burnishing the leather on a half-bound book




Hand illustrated upper case letters from a book published by the Giannini family in the 1800s


Marbling paper




Enrico and his studio


A pen and ink drawing dated from the 1500s, found after separating glued papers during a restoration project


Lunch in the Tuscan countryside


Bistecca alla Fiorentina, cooked on an open fire in the kitchen of Prof. Agostino Dessi

Salt Book

Salt is a recent book I’ve been working on for Cy DeCosse. It contains ten images printed on Somerset Book paper with hand-sewn signatures, a silkscreened front cover and handmade marbled endpapers by Steve Pittelkow. The size is 8″ x 10″.

All the images were photographed at the Bonneville Salt Flats and the Great Salt Lake in Utah in 2010.

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