It’s definitely 27Zine…
I’m swimming in zines right now, to my absolute glee. One of the newest arrivals is Dev Samaddar’s Twice Around the Sun: a two-year photo journal. It’s a collection his favorite mobile phone photographs from, well, the two trips around the sun he enjoyed during the period between December 28, 2014 and December 26, 2016.
The little book/zine opens with the first line from a Rabindranath Tagore prayer,* and a short poem about the passage of time, before jumping straight into the photographs: sunsets, vacations, children playing, flowers, land- and city-scapes, interesting things that grabbed his eye as he walked past, and other stuff that came up during the two years.
The photos themselves sometimes betray their humble, mobile origins, but they hold up most of the time. There are some blown highlights and crushed blacks, and some of the glitchy blur that is characteristic of small sensor cameras. It’s noticeable in a couple of images, but not overly distracting, and, really, not worth mentioning.
The photos themselves are all well composed and engaging, and the spreads have some formal relationships, in many cases, but the main function of Twice Around the Sun is, as the subtitle suggests, a journal (I might call it a RantBook™) documenting those two trips around the sun.
The print quality is good, what I’ve come to expect from this sort of slim, trade paperback-type zine. Jon Wilkening’s first Tiny Plastic Box came, I believe, from the same printer, and this format works well for small groups of pictures like this. The booklets fit comfortably in the hand, and square or vertically oriented pictures are plenty big to view at close distances. Horizontally oriented pictures are a bit smushed, but not uncomfortably so.
I like the concept, but I think it would be a bit stronger with a clearer narrative and some sort of linkage from page to page, maybe a few selfies scattered throughout to show changing hair styles or energy levels, or maybe a tree blooming, fully leaved, golden, and bare, and then repeated, to sort of put some timestamps in the series. I happily concede that I might have missed it somewhere, and narrative probably shouldn’t hit you over the head, but I spent quite a bit of time with the 37 pictures and never really got it. It’s not all random; there is some narrative scattered throughout.** I probably missed it in spots where it wasn’t so obvious. I also concede that this project probably wasn’t conceived back in 2014 or consciously worked for the whole two years, so any narrative would need to be imposed after the fact. I know from personal experience how hard that is.
I’m honored to have the ability to give Dev a bit of support on this project, and I look forward to seeing more of his work on his website and on Twitter. I think he still has a few copies available, and you can find Twice Around the Sun on Amazon‘s India site, so it’s probably available in other parts of the world too. Pick up a copy, and support amateur photographers. You’ll get to see someone else’s views of the world, and see how they edit and present their vision, and maybe help to offset some of their costs and give some much-needed encouragement.
*”Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them”
**For example, about halfway through there are a couple of scenes in an airport, followed by a scene of a pedestrian overpass and train in India, then some clouds shot from an airplane, and in the very last picture in the book some curtains blow open to reveal a sunny day, sort of implying a bright future or potential, but overall, I could’t follow the story very well.