I’m not sure where I came upon Ben Mills’ ‘4 Stops’ zines. I don’t follow Mills or his @hipshootfilm on Instagram, nor do I follow any of the photographers in vol. 1 or 2 of the zine. I haven’t listened to the Sunny 16 or Negative Positives podcasts, which are thanked in both volumes, in awhile. Maybe Em at Emulsive posted something that I saw on Twitter? No idea.
However I heard about it, I ended up with the first two volumes.
The 4 stops zine each feature photographs from Mills and 3 others and follow a pre-set theme. Vol. 1 is “Architecture & Signage,” with contributions from Karl Bailey (Hong Kong), Josh Lee & Alex Papadopoulos (of Decaffeinated Photography studios in Australia), and Justin Vargas (United States); Vol. 2 is “Countryside & Nature,” with work from Joe Abruscato (United States), Laura Cogan (Iceland), and Luke Hep (Cambodia). Add Ben Mills (United Kindom) to that, and you have a fairly nice geographic spread, with representation at 3-4 rough points around the globe, and so 4 stops makes nice for a nice pun.
There’s no real indication which photographs were taken by which photographer, and organization appears to be based around similarities or common traits, a riverbank somewhere and a woman and her children rowing across a river in what I’m guessing is Cambodia (the woman looks Southeast Asian, and the river and boats match my movie-based education of that region). Mills has no problem putting a black & white photograph next to a color photograph, and a bullet riddled Saguaro cactus sits next to a jungle temple. As an exercise in laying out photographs, it works, though it would be nice to see Mills branch out a bit, go for less obvious pairings. I mean, I understand the urge to open your zine on signage with an Open sign, and end it with a Closed sign, but there are probably other ways to get there.
As rather basic exercises in laying out photographs, the first two Volumes of ‘4 Stops’ work fine; as a sort of kum ba yah, we’re all one world, I guess it works, though architecture, signage, and countryside all display and enforce power structures; as introductions to work from some photographers you may never have heard of before, they fall a bit short.
Given that I don’t recall where I heard about ‘4 Stops,’ I don’t know why I picked these up. If it was to support other film shooters, then I’ve done my duty, and that’s good enough, I think.
Standard editions of Volume 1 and Volume 2 remain available direct from Mills. I think I managed to pick up a special pre-order of Volume 1, as it came with a couple of prints. If you want to support his work, maybe check out some of his prints. Of the two I ended up with, I really like this one. Good stuff.