A journey into the world of photobooks by Jennifer Constable
Published in RPS Journal Online (Sept 2021)

The latest work by Tamsin Green ARPS is inspired by her love of the English coastline – and published by her own company 

While the world was struggling to find a way out of the pandemic, Tamsin Green ARPS was focusing on an ambition she could achieve close to home.

In 2021 the architect and photographer set up a publishing company dedicated to the design and making of environmentally friendly, handmade photobooks. The launch of manual.editions followed her award-winning first photobook, Born of the Purest Parents, self-published in 2018 as 35 individual handmade volumes. It was selected for the Kassel Dummy Award in 2018.

Her latest photobook, this is how the earth must see itself, published in May 2021, explores the geology of the south coast of England through archival material, open-source data and photographs. Green retraces the steps of the 18th-century field surveyors tasked with mapping the area as part of a nationwide Ordnance Survey project. The book has been awarded the Photofusion SELECT Prize and is shortlisted for the inaugural Glover Rayner Prize, which recognises photographic work that explores issues around the environment, climate change, sustainability, biodiversity and more.

Here, Green explains what’s so special about photobooks, and why she is drawn to the coast.


“I am not interested in the single photograph, but what images can become when combined and placed in context. When you make a physical book there are a lot of decisions to be made that influence the experience of the work: the look and feel of the paper, hard or soft cover, size and format, layout of images, inclusion of text or other graphic components. All of these elements become inseparable in creating the world of the book object.

“I find working with the book format infinitely exciting as a place to explore ideas. I make a lot of physical book dummies, and this trial and error process of working with paper leads to surprise discoveries and new directions. It is a fundamental part of my practice and so quite organically has evolved into self-publishing my work in small handmade editions.

“I’m a fully qualified architect and work as an architect. The photography I do is all personal projects on [subjects] I want to investigate and make work about. I came to photography quite accidentally. I love walking – for me it is a way of going out into the world, and exploring and understanding things. I started taking cameras with me and my photography developed from there.

“I’ve always tried to travel in a kind of intentional way, so never learned to drive. I’ve always enjoyed travelling on trains and on foot – for me, that kind of limitation led to a connection with places I go to. 

“With the work I’ve been making on the south coast, I have been taking the train from London to sections of the coastal path. I’ve been walking the path while carrying shelter and sleeping along the way before getting the train back. They’re kind of multi-day walks.

“In understanding and learning about the natural world, you [should] reflect on your role in the future of those places. For me that is a work in progress – both the way I’m making my work and how I live my life. I’m constantly striving to be better. 

“I’m increasingly interested in exploring England. I’m English and grew up just outside London. I’ve always made day trips to the coast, so the English coastline is where I’m most familiar with in terms of walking. I’m really interested in exploring my relationship with that coastline.

“I’m also interested in geology – it forms the structure of everything we experience within the landscape. The more you walk the coastline of England the more you experience how the geology and bedrock changes as you move through the country. How the rocks form, what grows there and what lives there is all related to this under-structure which we normally don’t think about, especially living in London, where we’re not aware of what’s beneath our feet. When you walk the coastline, you become so aware of what’s beneath.

“Geology tells stories of the past and stores up what’s happened. The way we live now will affect what ends up in that geological book of the future. I’m interested in this relationship between rock and time.”


Photobooks and images by Tamsin Green ARPS tammidori.com

The RPS has launched a photobooks genre for its prestigious Distinctions qualifications. Find out more.

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