Workshop Dummies: Copenhagen

We are ready to share the behind-the-scenes of our most emergency Photobook Workshop ever that took place in Copenhagen at NW Gallery on the verge of the outbreak of Corona virus in Europe. As we were travelling to Copenhagen on 11 March things started to get unsettling, however no restrictions in any European country were imposed yet. But that was just a couple of days before Denmark introduced official lockdown right in the middle of our intensive process. We are most grateful to Nina Worren who made it all possible in such a supportive atmosphere. And also to all brave participants, whose dummies despite everything were in their hands on the last day on the Workshop - actually at 3 a.m. in the morning.
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"I feel like a mermaid. My body tells me I am a man and my soul tells me I am a woman”. —Heena (age 51). "Call me Heena" is Shahria’s ongoing project that draws on Hijra community, a South Asian term for people designated male or intersex at birth who adopt a feminine gender identity, commonly referred to as third gender. The project is Shahria's attempt to show the beauty in Hijra lives, despite the challenges and discrimination they face.

In order to give more exposure and voice to the heroes the cover features a booklet with a series of portraits of Hijra people. The main block with the sequence is split in the middle by the set of hidden photographs of HIV positive third gender people, who are not ready to expose their faces. Here the kettle stitch binding also breaks and works as a leporello. Another special set inside is the series of images of Hijra people photographed together their relatives - against the background of recurring sensual flower image.

The design is monochrome and minimalistic leaving strong images talk for themselves and making multiple layers inside the book reveal the complexity of the story. It’s Swiss binding with hard cover combining kettle stick sewing and leporello inside.

Each image in the project "Quiet by Nature" is the result of juxtaposition of 12 landscape pictures taken in the same spot (nature area in Copenhagen called Fælleden) and from the same angle. Each photographed on the same day with several minutes time shift. The process is slow, subtle and meditative and so is the result. In her photographic process Louise is seeking to create connections between meditative presence and the DNA of photography, and so the goal with dummy was to turn the experience of flipping through the book into meditation in itself.

The dummy features 12 images alternating with blank pages (one or more), which adds the dimension of time to the experience and creates an extra pause. This rhythmical sequence culminates in the series of 6 original photographs, printed on transparent paper, that actually deconstruct the method: now one can see a real juxtaposition of separate images that make the final collages. Back cover has a small black-and-white original print from the series.
The dummy has hardcover binding with light blue cotton cloth (close to the pictures' palette) and lighter blue end paper.

The project VillaNova is conceived as a series of publications: zines/books and a record NovaVilla. "It draws on the folklore, affect, fading memories and childhood stories I've heard, seen or experienced as a young black kid. This series of books will capture geographic interconnections, frequencies, spiritual and esoteric imageries.”

As a photographer and a sound engineer Cliff has a strong feel for music seen in his imagery that affected the way the dummy is sequenced and arranged in the layout. Photographs are sequenced in a way that creates ups and downs, some photographs being repeated several times throughout the zine and therefore recontextualized against different backgrounds and in a variety of spreads' sizes. The zine turns out to be dense and energetic, radiating strong freestyle vibe. Repetitions add to the rhythmical character. Music tape NovaVilla with Cliff’s mixes is to be added to the zine to complete the project. It’s open spine binding without cover in a plastic perforated sleeve.

Vanessa’s project presents a new hybrid genre of “photobiography" that tells the stories of people’s lives through a combination of photographs, text, and sound (and in future smell too). "Sensitive books” seek to affect the reader through a variety of sensory canals. Sound system is installed into the back cover of the book with both speaker and input for ear-phones. Sounds are to be activated by pressing on certain spots of images.

This dummy tells the story of Françoise, a former journalist, bookseller, navigator and writer living on a small island in Brittany. The challenge with this (2nd for Vanessa) dummy was to make the variety of material coherent and balanced in one book. Photographs are separated from texts by creating small notebooks inside the dummy with writings dealing with each “chapter” of Françoise’s biography. Photographs from Françoise’s archive are also distinguished from Vanessa’s photographs of her: the former are printed on glossy photo paper and attached to pages with transparent corners to highlight their original character and add intimacy to the story. Françoise’s letter is left as a loose folded sheet at the end of the book.

Series “Out of Sight” features photographs of white paper cuttings shaped like snow, ice flakes or icicles and placed directly in the white winter landscapes of Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark, immersing into the reality. The aim was to extend playfulness of the approach in general and subtlety of snow sculptures and their elusiveness into the dummy.

The dummy begins with a sequence of sketches on transparent paper, featuring hand-drawn outlines of paper cuttings that are to follow later in the photographs. It gives a hint about the method and brings the viewer to the origins of the process at the same time. Photographs alternate with colour paper sheets of different tints from light to dark grey and culminate in the picture with black paper cuttings of birds. The reminder of the sculptural origin of the work is a paper cut snowflake attached to one of the spreads. Swiss binding with hard cover. Cover picture is hardly visible, almost out of sight.


The workshop of Calin and Yana was a very enriching experience: not only are they experienced and passionate speakers (they really don't count their hours!), but they are also very respectful and attentive to each project. They are really trying to understand which shape best fits the subject of our work, it helped me a lot to understand better how to improve the message of my project. This a very complete workshop with inspiring book examples (made by them or not), theoretical explanations, editing, technical advice and then, the practice with the creation of the book step by step (printing, binding, stitching, etc.) It feels really good to leave the workshop with a first dummy of my project! Thank you again for this precious moment with you and I hope see you soon :)


The workshop met my expectations in many ways. It was exciting to experience the process, all the steps from editing and sequencing the photos to ending up with a proper dummy. It had a very comfortable, professional and serious atmosphere. Yana and Calin were very good guides in the process and had a good feeling of when to push a little bit more and when to just continue.
I am very happy with the result. I got a very good first draft dummy and lots of ideas on how to proceed with the next. The course really motivated me, and I am very eager to continue, the work I started.
I especially liked ending up binding the book, so you leave the course with a proper product. I also liked all the examples and inspiration during the workshop, and that the timeframe was well planned.
I will definitely recommend the workshop to other photographers. I have already done so.


My Goals was to get more insights and skills with designing, sequencing and binding a book. The fact that dienacht was involved in the event was clearly the reason why I took part in it. I always liked their approach with crafting books.

I have to say the workshop went beyond my expectations. I left the studio with a shifted perspective on my work and process. I also demystified a lot of aspects of creating/publishing your own book.

I'm definitely happy with the results, judging the fact that it's a dummy. I attended the workshop with no preconceived goals, besides the fact that I wanted to learn new skills and get direct input from dienacht that I consider to be one of the best indie publisher in the game.

My favorite aspect of the workshop was being challenged on my process and workflow. It has been refreshing to deconstruct my work and question certain choices rather than another. Calin and Yana have been really good at triggering new ideas and making suggestions without compromising the vision I had in mind. I also enjoyed working alongside artists with different visions and backgrounds, truly inspiring.

I would highly recommend this workshop. For anyone willing to create a publish a book. May you be at an very early stage, or have a finished dummy, Calin and Yana will manage to help you with you project by either.


Also in workshop

Blog topic where we share the making of dummies at Calin Kruse / dienacht Publishing photobook workshops.

dienacht Photobook making Workshop at a castle