Jimo Salako, hair stylist, on a book
GB Tell me why you chose this.
JS I chose a book because to me it’s a symbol of life and information. A book does look beautiful, but it’s a good, ancient way to convey messages and is everlasting.
GB I wonder if people will find them beautiful forever. People are used to getting information so quickly on the internet now.
JS I hope so. There is an inherent beauty in a room full of books. Maybe it’s subjective but there’s something incredibly pleasing about walking into a room in a house or a gallery and getting this sense of learning.
GB Do you judge people by their books?
JS Yes I believe, like our clothes, books make a statement and have a cultural value. They say a lot about a person. I suppose I feel relieved when I see that someone has a certain kind of book lying around.
GB There’s a lot of debate over whether we experience reading differently on the internet to when we read a book. Do you think the internet has changed the way you read?
JS I do enjoy the quicker access but I love photography books and the love I have for the smell and feeling of those kind of books will never change. I like the sense of owning the book and being able to leaf through it. The web is good for an initial reference but the pleasure in owning a physical copy hasn’t diminished for me. Although I do see that it’s different for other people who use information in a different way.
GB You’ve worked with online publications as well as publishing your own books and magazines. A book takes a long time to produce, so you know that someone has spent a great deal of time making the decisions that the content is worthy of being in the book. What makes things worthy of being in a book to you, rather than posting them online?
JS When it comes to photography it’s good to be able to fully explore your subject matter – which you can do more in a book than you can in a magazine. And it’s a dream for most photographers to have a book because it lasts. I think it’s important to take time to pause. Photographers who work in a documentary or a fine art style need the book as an outlet. There are so many outlets for fashion photography. And I suppose people have more faith in the images in a book because fashion magazines are so compromised by the commercial interests of their advertisers. Although that wasn’t the case with the magazines I published. We would put so much effort into them, we hoped that they would also have permanence and not be thrown away. The photographers worked incredibly hard and we made sure the print was of the highest possible standard. It’s actually easier to make a book than it ever has been nowadays –with online services, ironically. And if you design it right it can be a lovely thing.
GB I know you specialise in photography, but do you think our minds take in information in a different way when we read on a screen.
JS I think that just depends on your interest levels. The context of where you are and what it is you’re reading will make a difference. You might not read something on your phone in the same way as you read from something physically larger that you’ve taken more effort to find. I’ve always loved libraries. They’re such lovely places to study. It’s hard to find that quiet anywhere else. Reading stories to my children has also been an incredible experience. It’s amazing to see the way they respond and develop their interest in things through books. My son is seven and he is always stuck in a book. Technology moves forward though and the way things are going we’ll all end up using books, tablets, phones – and probably more that we haven’t even thought of yet.
GB What makes something worthy of the word Beauty to you?
JS Honesty. A certain type of honesty, that however it’s presented, whether it’s finished and polished or rough and raw, has a certain integrity to it and has a depth beyond its mere physical appearance. I see beauty constantly as I’m very visually led. Some things hit me intellectually while with others it’s a more emotional response. Books are a gateway to knowledge and reflect my lifelong aspiration for learning and enlightenment so they transcend many other forms of beauty for me.