Creative: August Self-Publishing Project, Chapter Two


This may or may not be the first image in the book, and will be on the first righthand page with no copy. I like this image because it sets a certain tone and emotional feel for what is to come. Plus, it shows the somewhat violent species to species interaction that dominates life in The West.

I wanted to update my project by starting with something that another photographer asked me. “How can you start your book project if you haven’t gone on the trip?” I think this is a misconception people have about book projects and one that puts them behind the eight ball when it comes to working efficiently. But let me give you a better explanation. First off, let’s look at what this project is, or better yet what it’s not.

This is not a project about my photography. This is not a monograph, career statement or anything I am using to “show off” who I am or what I can do. I’m simply using the book to tell a story. The second point is that I have work from prior trips, so I’m not starting from scratch. This is a story, at least in part, about family, so I also have historical album snaps to utilize. Also, I’m getting a leg up on the overall design so that when I return with a sizable inventory of images, motion, copy, artwork, Instax, etc. I’m NOT staring a blank screen asking myself, “What is this book going to be?” I said this before, but this isn’t a book for public consumption, nor will it make sense to a wide audience. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever done anything with wide appeal. But here’s the best part. I don’t care.

This book has A LOT of copy. Six pages so far. I used a fairly straightforward font at 11pts, which is somewhat large but I’m printing on uncoated stock which has slightly more tooth. Due to this slight texture I find one point size up tends to be more fitting. Also, I’m keeping in mind the age demographic of my primary audience. The type is cast in the official Wyoming brown mixed from the CMYK color formula.I’ve cropped these screen grabs because I don’t want to show the entire spreads yet.

I need to say something critical here. I’ve noticed a strange and somewhat oligarch-style trend with the “considered” book crowd who wants to stamp all the fun out of bookmaking by applying the masters degree in photography mentality to everything. What I’ve seen this mentality do is stop a lot of people from exercising their creativity. Creativity doesn’t always fit inside a traditional, historical, repetitive model, which is how I view aspects of the masters in photography world. That world has created some memorable books, no doubt, but it’s also created thousands of retreads, expected books, copycat pubs and overall insanely boring reads. If that crowd is your singular audience then you might want to pay attention to all those rules, but if you audience is the actual public then you have almost total free reign. My advice, take advantage of that. Keep it fun. Take some chances, but have reasons for taking these chances and learn to talk coherently about your work and your books.

I’m moving too fast for that mentality. And I have too many outside interests to slow down long enough to agonize over what the book means or whether or not some book critic is going to like it. IDC. I don’t care. See how clever I am. Making books like this should be fun, educational, entertaining but should never be stressful, agonizing, painful or confusing. Save those things for attempting to understand our political system.

This is the official Wyoming font in the official CMYK brown and gold. These banners will be used on the chapter heads of which there are six.

Scans of actual prints from our family album. These will be used for the first two chapters of the book.

Like all my other projects this entire layout could change. I also designed a few spreads that were far more…designed, but then opted to go back to more straightforward spreads. I did this for several reasons. The people who view this book aren’t going to be high-end design folks. They are my family. You get the picture. Second, this place and this life were as straightforward as you can get, and intense, modern design doesn’t make much sense to me. And I probably can’t pull it off anyway.

So, before I leave I want to have all the front matter copy written and designed, and I want all the chapter heads, titles and remaining front matter completed. Then I’ll go to Wyoming and see what is what. If I had to classify the odds of this becoming a masterful book I would say those odds are very slim. However, I’m excited. I really am. I don’t have much time, perhaps four days of actual photography, but I haven’t spent four days photographing in over seven years, so on one hand it feels like a long time, but on the other hand my memory tells me it isn’t nearly long enough.

It feels good to try and wrap my head around the story, or the puzzle, depending on how you look at it. On a plane yesterday I watched a woman do puzzles for two hours and I thought to myself “That’s kinda what photographer/bookmakers do.” Live, learn and move forward.

Next chapter will deal with the absolute mess of equipment I’ll be using, and why.

2 Comments on “Creative: August Self-Publishing Project, Chapter Two”

  1. I’m looking forward to reading more, Daniel. What come across to me is that self-publishing is liberating. No gate-keepers, no-one dictating the style, the typeface etc.
    Be bold, be yourself.

    1. Mike,
      Real self-publishing, meaning selling books to people you don’t know, is a complex thing. Self-publishing for a personal project should be nothing but fun. Always keep that in mind.

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