A new photography zine focused on equality

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Our Collective Breath, created by Tom Carpenter, divides its profits equally between each contributor

“Everyone who has contributed is equal,” asserts Tom Carpenter. An ethos, which is the driving force behind Our Collective Breath (OCB), a new photography zine focusing on the wider image-making community. “The idea of dividing the profits up equally between all the contributors was important for us, particularly when work and opportunities were almost non-existent because of the Covid-19 lockdown. People in the creative industries are more often than not expected to work for free, so we felt it was the right time to find a way we could pay all contributors equally.”

The Cornwall-based photographer began work on the zine, the theme of which is Play, Explore, Experiment, during the first UK lockdown. “I had wanted to create a printed publication for a while, and I wanted it to be something that could support fellow artists and photographers,” Carpenter says. “I got in touch with a designer,” he adds. “Lots of peoples’ work opportunities had been put on hold and we wanted to make something that showcased the photographers’ work while also ensuring they were paid equally for their contribution.”

Here, Carpenter reflects on the creative process behind the zine.

British Journal of Photography: How did you decide on the title?

Tom Carpenter: The title had to be something that represented the coming together of a group of artists and photographers. It also had to reflect our approach. After a lot of time spent trawling through a thesaurus, we settled on Our Collective Breath

BJP: How did you decide on the theme Play, Explore, Experiment for issue one?

TC: The theme for issue one (Play, Explore, Experiment) was born as we worked out how to bring the zine to life. Playing, exploring, and experimenting were what we did to get the first issue of the zine to where it is now. The theme also helped guide us when it came to deciding who should be part of the first issue.

© Rhiannon Adam.
© Maisie Marshall.

BJP: Which projects surprised you the most?

TC: I’d have to say Rhiannon Adam’s work on Pitcairn Island. It’s a project that I’ve admired for a long time, but it wasn’t until I interviewed Rhiannon that I realised how much she was up against when making the work. For me, it’s refreshing to hear a photographer speak so openly about the ups and the downs of a project. It gives the rest of us hope!

BJP: What has the first issue taught you?

TC: Issue one has taught me a lot. It’s the first time I’ve worked on a printed publication like this, and it’s a full-time job just trying to keep everything on track. 

For me, one of the main things I’ve learnt from this process is how much support there is from the wider creative community. It can be quite daunting approaching people sometimes, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. 

Issue One of Our Collective Breath is available to pre-order from their online shop.

Isaac Huxtable

Isaac Huxtable joined the British Journal of Photography in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Assistant. Prior to this, he studied a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.