Image is Everything

Meet Bill, the Context Free Photography Magazine

Annual publication Bill describes itself as “prioritising visual reading without distraction”. In other words this magazine-come-photobook sets zero context, upholding the capacity that pictures and images speak for themselves.  With each edition, creative director, Julie Peeters  – the Bauhaus Imaginista – plans to collate new and unpublished work from upcoming photographers.

Julie says that “the magazine is very much about the object and how it’s made”, something that is made better or enhanced by the range of textures and weights encountered as the reader-viewer leafs through. The paper alternates between matte, gloss, near-transparencies and heavy, grainy, vinyl-like textures, providing each photo-story with a distinctive physical identity.

Printed at Benedict Press, a tiny printing house in Münsterschwarzach, a Benedictine monastery, Bill’s experimental approach is not just in print, visible and tangible – but in production.

Bill 2

The second edition of Bill– known as Bill 2– has surprised everyone by somehow being better than Bill… The magazine’s overall identity has gained greater clarity, with continuations of themes established in the initial publication. The glossy covers of both issues depict portraits of women, closely cropped so that their faces almost fill the frame, and paired by back-cover images of feet. Descriptors for the cover photographs are written along the spines of both magazines and provide Bill’s only explanatory text.  The caption on the spine of Bill 2, which accompanies an image of a woman looking askance over her shoulder, reads simply “Smile No”.

Bill offers a take on the “cover girl” aesthetic of magazines whereby the photographed female subject, instead of adopting the passive stance of something looked at – in accordance with John Berger’s famous claim that “men act and women appear” – asserts her own agenda. Hampshire’s Gorgon character threatens to turn the viewer to stone with her Medusa gaze, while Bill 2’s cover girl looks contemptuously back at us, refusing the wish of the photographer or the onlooker that she “smile”.

Multi-Media Context

Despite the apparent “context free” nature of the publication; once the reader combines the images within, carefully considered paper choice

s – as well as a wider understanding of the publications’ origins – seemingly the narrative becomes clearer. This is further reinforced by the addition of a Spotify playlist put together by contributors to enhance the readers’ experience. This multi-media cacophony of non-text noise makes for an intense screen-less multi-media experience. We’d love to get involved in similar projects, particularly those with such a heavy focus on print quality – so do get in touch. See the publication here.