GRINtroducing: Chris Neophytou

We catch up with self-publisher, Out of Place Books founder and photographer, Chris Neophytou, for our latest Grintroducing.

For this installment of GRINtroducing, we’ve been getting to know more about photographer, educator and self-publisher Chris Neophytou. We find out all about his passion for photobooks and self-publishing.

1) Hello Chris, thank you for taking the time to take part in our GRINtroducing series. For those who don’t know who you are, could you please introduce yourself or say a little about your work?

I am a photographer based in Birmingham, I mostly make work around the theme of ‘place’, normally Birmingham and Cyprus (the island in the Mediterranean my family come from). I have been involved in education for many years and I also run Out of Place Books, which is small photobook publishing project that explores ideas of ‘place’.


2) How is your time divided between photography, education and publishing?

My days are always changing. Overall, I spent most of my time on photography. Working on commercial work and my own projects, but I’m always tinkering with books and Out of Place more generally. I also teach at a handful of colleges and universities. Normally, at a point in their courses where they begin to engage in photobooks. I’m like the ‘introduction to photobooks’ guy.


3) How would you describe Out of Place Books?

Out of Place Books is basically a publishing project to make photobooks about places. The kind of work I look for is photography projects that are about place and are made in a documentary style. The books are designed to be affordable but we care about design and materials so we work really hard on making these books affordable but also beautiful. I am a photobook nerd. I’ve been collecting photobooks for a long time and I have a keen sense about how Out of Place Books might fit into the wider context of photobooks. The books, in many ways, occupy a space somewhere between a zine and a photobook and I wonder sometimes if that’s been part of our success. I am passionate about Birmingham and the Midlands and there is certainly an enormous gap in photographic publishing when it comes to this part of the country.

4) Had you done any self-publishing before Out of Place Books?

I have been messing about with books since college. Looking back, I realised that too much of your education in photography is focused on exhibitions and prints as a final outcome (this is changing however, with the increasing popularity of photobooks). However, not all work fits that way of working, some work functions better in book form. I’ve been playing with making books for a while, and often have the book in mind as the final outcome of my work. Out of Place is my first serious endeavour in self-publishing.

“One thing thats really important about photobooks is there potential to be democratic, to exist in more that one place at a time and to be rediscovered in years to come.”

5) What role does self-publishing play in your practice?

The whole idea of a photobook is to create something akin to an art object, the design, the materials, the sequencing of images and layout should all work together to elevate the series and help communicate some of its key ideas. One thing thats really important about photobooks is there potential to be democratic, to exist in more that one place at a time and to be rediscovered in years to come. The traditional approach to getting your work out there is through exhibitions, and they are hard to come by.

I touched on this earlier, but photography still isn’t very well understood or represented here in Birmingham. Outside of London there’s not much of a scene, outside of the online community. The truth is, the type of photography I make and publish is still pretty niche. There are very few institutions with specialists in photography here in the UK. Photography is still, remarkably, difficult to get exhibited. Self publishing has given photographers an opportunity to not only take control of the presentation of their work but also to distribute and disseminate it and ultimately build an audience. The photobook scene has in many ways helped build a better understanding and increased popularity of the genre, whilst also leading to many photographers getting recognition and gallery representation.

6) What was your goal when you started out of place books?

The first impetus for starting Out of Place books was I wanted to put out my own work in an affordable way, and I wanted control over how the work was presented. But more that that it quickly became a way to support photographic work made about place, but not just anywhere, I really wanted to shine a light on the Midlands.

7) Do you have OOP books favourites?

It’s hard to choose a favourite. I have been looking back at my Turista book a lot lately but I’d say the books we’ve published this year I’m particularly proud off: True Love Still Exists by Melissa Laree Cunningham, The Dragon that Ascended to the Heavens by Jonjo Borrill and Le bout du Monde by Aurelie Monnier.

8) What is it about photo books that you like the most?

I can’t answer this very easily but If you’re ever in the neighbourhood pop round I can show you the collection and hopefully it’ll make sense!

9) What are your top 3 photo books?

This is too hard but I’ll drop three I think people should know:

  1. Anders Petersen – Cafe Lehmitz
  2. Daido Moriyama – Farewell Photography (I have a reprint, the original is about 3k and I don’t sell enough books for that)
  3. Mark Power – Good Morning America (its an ongoing series on its Third vol right now).

10) Any other (classic?) photo books we should keep an eye for our library?

As a design house I’d check out Big Fence by Rhiannon Adams, Imperial Courts by Dana Lixenberg is amazing. I’ve been looking at Shane Rochelau’s Lakeside a lot this week so thats a good one to get too.

11) What advice would you give to an aspiring photographers or publishers?

Integrity is important. When you find your voice have the courage to use it.

12) Plan B – If you both weren’t working with photography etc, what other job could you see yourselves working in?

If I wasn’t working in photography I’d like to be a jazz pianist, just need to learn how to play the piano.


To find out more about Chris and Out of Place Book’s work, please visit these links:

Out of Place Books here

Chris Neophytou here

Instagram: OOP / Chris Neophytou