Justin Cook

Who printed it?
I work with Smartpress in Minnesota. Their ordering process is super simple, and they have file prep and print guides.

Who designed it?
I did! One of my best friends, photographer Jared Soares inspired me to make these zines. He makes some killer zine promos too.

Tell me about the images.
The images are a collection of my photos that I made in 2021 while on assignment, and from on-going personal projects, such as my work in Princeville, North Carolina, the oldest town in America founded by Black people, and its complicated relationship with the Tar River and climate change.

I love making zines because print is not dead, and my annual zine is a way to reflect on the year and celebrate my work and the people who helped me make it. Also, I often end up making images while on assignment that are never published, so it’s a way for those images to have life, and to see how my photographs speak to one another.

I am an avid fossil hunter, so at the end of the zine are photos from my fossil hunts in waterways of eastern North Carolina, where you can find the remains of prehistoric sharks and whales from when the eastern part of the state was an ocean millions of years ago.

For the cover, I chose a portrait of a huge old tree that is growing out of the Tar River. My friend and fellow photographer, Megan May, helped me light it as I waded out into chest deep water to make the photograph. I love making lit portraits of old trees using the same techniques I’d use to make a portrait of a person. The name “Old Growth” is a mantra for how I want to work and grow: slow and steady, like that tree.

How many did you make?
This is an edition of 25.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
Once a year. I send them to editors I love and editors I’d love to work with. I made my own imprint called Tiburon, so I also sell them in my online store so everyone has access to my printed work. I also keep extra copies so I can give them to people I am photographing on long term projects so they can understand my work and see themselves in it.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
I hope so! I often don’t hear back from editors, and many editors were not working in their offices during the pandemic so I have no idea if they see the zines. But I still make them because it’s a fun exercise.

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