I’ve got my sights set on a new project, and for the first time in a long while I’m going to package this baby in a photography book. To be exact, an 10×8 portrait book. Softcover with Proline Uncoated paper. This post is the beginning of me telling the story of the story and me telling the story of the book. Why would I do this? Several reasons. First, August 21st will see a total solar eclipse, the path of which will pass over our family farm in Wyoming. The farm isn’t in our family anymore, but the DNA of that place, and our original ranch property, has never left my bloodstream. Wyoming is a place I think about, and dream about, on a regular basis, and have for the past twenty-five-years. (Making a book about something you love is a wonderful thing.)
The eclipse was what got this book ball rolling, but there were two other things floating around in my brain just waiting to be connected. First, I was asked where my home was and I had no response. I thought back to my childhood, then through my life. Indiana, Texas, Wyoming, Arizona, California and New Mexico. All the places I’ve called home at one time or another, but NONE of these places felt like a title I could use for my actual home. “I think I’m somewhat homeless.” But what is home? I certainly feel the best, right now, in New Mexico, especially when compared to California where I’ve lived for the last twenty years but have never felt at peace with the place, but I’ve only been in New Mexico for ten years, and part time at that. My family still resides in Texas, but I’m there maybe once a year. Is home where you receive mail? I hope not. What about where you vote, where you family is? Sure, that makes sense, but my wife and I are chameleons. We shape shift through life being what we need to be, who we need to and where we need to be. Nothing feels permanent, and we often talk about things like “Hey, let’s sell everything and get out of here.” So there’s that.
The other thing floating around in my brain is the idea that I’m searching for something but I don’t know what I’m searching for, and I’m afraid if I focus on something I’m uncertain of I’ll miss everything else along the way. Yes, this could mean I’m losing it, reaching that mid-life crisis stage or maybe just spending too much time in my head. Don’t know, but this concept is real, at least it feels that way. So with these ideas in mind I face the new Tacoma north toward the familiar ground of my childhood. I have a schedule, vague notions about what I’ll see, but so much will be what I happen to cross paths with.
Let’s talk a little about the book. As you know, I’ve got my ESSAY series, and originally thought about using this project as Issue 5, and I might twist this into an issue at some point, but I almost immediately thought photobook. It feels like a photobook project. Something I can provide to my family members, something substantial, and something that offers me a specific blend of materials. I LOVE the Proline Uncoated paper. Knew I wanted that. I think this project will have far more color, and far more digital, than anything I’ve done before, and I love how color digital looks on Proline Uncoated. Softcover also felt right. Softcover also keeps the cost down. Yes, I can go hardcover anytime I want, but I’m going in under the notion that softcover is my thing.
1. This is a book about story not a book about photography. The days of me attempting to make high quality photo-essays are over. I’m simply not that interested in the photography at this point. Also, my allotted time is one week, and great essays simply don’t happen like that unless you are talking about a specific event.
2. This will be a mixed media project. Digital, Instax, Copy. Old photographs. Old film images.
3. This will be an etherial design and subsequent book. Unlike anything I’ve done before.
4. This will be a personal book for a very specific and limited audience.
5. This book will not be for sale.
6. I’m already having fun scheming about what this will be, and have designed exactly two pages of a proposed 80-page book. These pages will change but just making the first strokes on the canvas has been enlightening.
7. I will do this book and move on. Hope to be done with final design less than a week after returning. Will hit print and MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE, taking what I’ve learned from this project and utilizing these skills in future projects.
8. There is a chance I might collaborate with someone else. Maybe. If so this will slow down the timeline dramatically, but the other person is more talented than I, so if I get the chance to work with him I will.
9. Blurb may or may not have something new on the way. This book may or may not be a nice way to test what may or may not be coming.
10. I love bookmaking. Bookmaking is the single most important aspect of my creative life going back to 1996. Cameras came and went, software, trends, styles and all the nonsense that goes along with all these things, but the book, and my images, were the TWO things that cut through it all. The jobs I had in the past, due in great part to my books, and the jobs I have today…BOTH of them, are a reality because of my books. The books were what got the conversation started. Bookmaking is proof, evidence of commitment, and books transcend the noise of online culture. Ask yourself why the greatest photographers in history regard the book as the single most important artifact of being a photographer.
I write this from a friend’s house in Santa Fe. I’m a bit nervous. There is a lot on the line and a lot unsettled and uncertain. But I must go. I’m committed. The book has begun to take shape and all I can do now is go collect.