Homie House Press is an independent photo book publisher based out of Baltimore that seeks to “hold space for and with underrepresented communities.” Their output may be small but everything they publish is *so good*—and we’re also big fans of their design aesthetic, all of which is done in house. We asked Caterina Ragg and Adriana Monsalve, HHP co-founders, to recommend us some of their favorite publications. Here they are, in their own words.
“We started Homie House Press (HHP) as a collaborative project in reaction to our various encounters within the field of photojournalism. We first started working together while studying at the University of Westminster in London. After graduating, we researched where we could work within the traditional spaces of photojournalism, but we were struck by the regulations of the field—like staying ‘objective,’ keeping a safe distance from ourselves and the story, from the ‘subject’ and our own lives. We were bringing in-depth longform storytelling that was personal and political at the same time, but the outlets we were in contact with were looking for surface, one-dimensional images. We also faced the problems that arise from a lack of ethnic, racial, and gender diversity, as some of the only womxn and/or womxn of color working in those spaces.
“After these experiences, we felt the need for a platform to hold space for personal storytelling and make space for our communities. From there, HHP was born. We think of HHP as an alternative, new-school, photojournalism platform that focuses on communities working from within the margins of our society. We want to represent personal experiences as they really are, rather than through the mediated gaze of traditional photojournalism.
“The thinking behind our practice constitutes searching for stories that are, quoting performance artist Franko Black, ‘personal, political and poetic.’ Personal, Political, Poetic. That’s it, that’s the tweet.
“The real value of our work as artivists, or as artists using our creative practices to seek justice and create social equity, is collaboration. Homie House Press encourages young folx and underrepresented groups to tell our stories and show ourselves with dignity. In the beginning, we used to spend a lot of time reaching out to emerging talent, as well as our homies, and invite them to make books with us. Now that we’re more visible, collaborators tend to come to us in normal daily life exchanges: A random conversation sparked at a book fair, a friend of a friend told them to reach out to us, so many folx sliding in our DMs, a chance encounter at a coffee shop. All these things have brought upon a tender and challenging collaborative space that we could have never imagined would be so warm and healing to sink into.
“For every book, the design and art direction is done by us. As the co-founders and baddie bae’s of this space, Caterina [Ragg] takes charge as the head of graphic Design, while we both come up with the overall art direction for each publication together. Adriana [Monsalve] spearheads the flow, writing, narration and feeling that each book will take. With our powers combined we have so much fun and witness what we feel is magic on a regular occurrence.”
A photo book everyone should know about
Love, Raisul by Raisul Tintin, published by Homie House Press
Love, Raisul is a dazed romance with the trip-and-fall-and-get-up-again vibe of adolescence. What will happen with these dog days of summer… with the murdering of Black folks worldwide, the targeting of Black existence, and the senseless ways in which we are meant to deal with two plagues at one time. What happens when the dust settles? When the intergenerational resistance for equality overcomes euphoria? Maybe the only things that remain are memories of home, love, friendship, and sisterhood.
Raisul Tintin is the youngest collaborator we have ever worked with. At 16, he is a published author. It is an honor and immense joy to cultivate space for the youth to be their fullest selves. – Homie House Press
Favorite recently released magazine
Deem Journal is phenomenal. I’m late to the game, but I’m here y’all. They put out their first issue right before the pandemic hit the U.S. in February of 2020 and their second issue came out just a couple months ago. It’s a magazine that comes out once a year and brings together a group of thinkers and makers for the revolution. This time the focus is on “pedagogy for a new world,” and they do the damn thing.
The line up of contributors for this second issue is so well curated. A lot of my faves and heavy hitters are present and speaking truth to power in glorious design and high bright colors.
Also, it’s printed in the highest quality photo paper cover glory! And the design team is stellar! I do not know any of the folks that make this magazine so this is not me hyping my friends, this is me wanting to be friends!!! – Adriana Monsalve
Best book by an athlete
Doing The Best I Can by Diamond Stingily, published by Facadomy
I’m obsessed with everything about this book, from the gold Riso ink on the dark purple paper to the immensely vulnerable display of images and text… this is just everything. I could never be an athlete, but I love the chance to step into one’s shoes and see how loss and failure have followed her from a career in basketball to one as an artist. That I can identify with, and anyone who is speaking on failure in open and transparent ways is doing work that I want to invest in and learn from. Also, I love Riley Hooker, the designer daddy at Facadomy. The work he chooses to take on is always radical shit and we just love to see it. – Adriana Monsalve
An exhibition catalogue worth owning
The Shadow Means It’s Real, published and curated by Homie House Press
This is an exhibition that collects ideas on mending shattered pasts—together with our collaborators, we revised archived histories of their heredity, pursuing healing work for survival. We had so much fun putting this exhibition together as well as the catalogue. Having a whole exhibition space for HHP was a practice in taking up space and no longer making ourselves smaller than we are meant to be. It was a practice in abundance and celebration. Although this was two years ago, it still fills us with immense pride and joy. It is a constant reminder that we are where we are supposed to be with how we are supposed to be. The Shadow Means It’s Real, y’all, it really does. – Adriana Monsalve
A feminist mainstay
4 brown girls who write, published by Rough Trade Books
This is a really gorgeously put together, four-part packet that contains poetry and prose by four different Southeastern Asian femmes based in the UK. This was gifted to me for my birthday last year by Caterina, and I can’t stop coming back to it. From the way it’s put together in all its bright yet simple color combos, to the distinctly strong and eclectic stories of immigrant and immigrant-adjacent experiences… It’s just beautiful. It is the necessary and healing work that we should all be investing our money into in some way or another. I love these femmes and I hope they do more of these packets. I look forward to it, I’m a fan. – Adriana Monsalve
Favorite book bought at a book fair
BPP 66-82 by WorkPlay
This is one of those books that once I bought it, I reference it for everything. It has helped me process my rage. It has brought me joy and peace when I needed it. WorkPlay is a husband and wife team based out of St Louis, and they just do such detailed and gorgeous work. Kevin runs the design end of things, while Danielle writes and brings it all together with poetry and tender scholarship. They are my friends, but I’m not gassing them cuz they are, I’m gassing this project because it makes me feel closer to my purpose and grounds me when I need it most. – Adriana Monsalve