Creative: Essay, Issue One, Update one

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Yesterday was my first post in regard to my new series Essay. I started that post by saying that many things have changed. I wanted to document these changes because, in my experience, this is how all projects come about. Almost everything changes, and changes again, as you settle in on finding what will actually work.

CHANGES: I HAVE ALREADY PRINTED TEST COPIES OF BOTH MAGAZINE AND TRADE BOOK. THIS IS ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS OF WORKING WITH A PRINT-ON-DEMAND PLATFORM. I ALWAYS CREATE TEST BOOKS. (The magazine shipped two days after I ordered it, but this is super fast and I wouldn’t expect that.)

1. Format. Magcloud and InDesign are out. Too complicated for certain folks, and I want to build something that anyone can look at and think “I can do that too.” Also, am going to build a “best of” book once a year. This will be a hardcover, photobook style pub. No plans to sell this or promote it just want to get my head around the design. Making something like this helps me truly engage with the work because I have to look at the work, and design and consider the work in ways I normally would not.

2. Decided to use Bookwright to design the magazine, then hit the “change format” option and have the software instantly fabricate a second version of the project in Trade Book, 6×9. I designed a 40-page magazine, used the “change format” tool and it worked perfectly. But, what I ended up with was a replica at basically the same price point. By the way, Bookwright is a damn good software. I actually really enjoy it.

3. So, at this moment, I’m thinking JUST magazine. This will simplify things for me and allow me to make the best possible SINGLE object.

4. I want to keep the price point at $10. This means 40-pages, which I think is enough especially when you consider I might only have 2-3 days to complete stories.

5. The overall design, especially the cover, is a direct tribute to Life Magazine. Super simple. I was published in Life Magazine once so it has meaning to me. I also like the idea that when Life was in its prime it was one of the key ways people received their news. Slow, deliberate, comprehensive.

6. Design wise, I need a table of contents page which will, hopefully, stay consistent from issue to issue. The pitch, the story, the photography, the essays, the behind the scenes, etc. all need their own section but don’t want the prime imagery to get lost. This means redesign of entire, current 40-page first issue. Oh well.

7. Will be focusing on observation-based copy combined with still images as the primary content strategy. Audio is too time consuming. Video is even worse. Plus, I know that doing three things at once, or four, makes certain I will do nothing particularly well. So, stills and copy it is.

8. Will probably use the Leica M4, TRI-X with 50mm and the Fuji x100T with 35mm for color. This way I can print in the field, attempt to do layouts, edits, etc., but not lose my love of film and the tangible. I hope to use these tangible elements in the design as well. Do I still want a Fuji XT2? Yes, of course. But that time period when I get so hot on something I’m riding horseback through the city at night yelling “The XT2 is coming!” is winding down. Typically, if I let my emotions die down I realize I might not need everything I get so hot about. It would be a luxury at this point, not a requirement.

9. The idea here is to document the process and inspire others to try the exact same thing. Hopefully, at some point we have a big get together of people who are publishing magazines.

10. I’m not after perfection, nor am I trying to sell you on anything other than this idea. I work for Blurb, and will be using the platform to create the publications, but this is about more than that. I believe in the power of the individual, and if you are roaming the Earth with camera and intent then this project is for you.

11. There are more changes on the way.

12. Still thinking of keeping the main photography secret until the magazine is complete. I like the mystery, and in best case scenario, the anticipation someone might have….who am I kidding right?

13. Am thinking this might be a way to revisit few older projects I never did anything with. In case I get stuck in between projects I can still be constructive. Australia, Dispatches, Paradise?

I’ve never been a single image photographer. I’ve always worked in sequence and story. The region this story takes place is very dear to me. The work I have so far represents two short trips to the area going back at least ten years. Film based. Not as cohesive as I would have liked, but my goals on those trips were different than they are now. I need to get back out there and update the work before I go to print, but have enough already to do a 40-page magazine. So, certain stories might require more pages. I also have to rethink the design. The structure and table of contents are haunting me because I don’t really want to do it but think I need to. (This is the self-doubt portion of our story.)

7 Comments on “Creative: Essay, Issue One, Update one”

  1. I know this is far from your main concern but it always ends up being a stumbling block for me – International shipping. Quite often the shipping is almost as much as the product. In those cases I rarely pull the trigger and buy the product.

    It would be great if someone could invent a magical home printer that prints magazines. I’d purchase a PDF version, click print, and as if by magic your magazine pops out fully intact and exactly as you designed it.

    1. Sean,
      You can print at the copy place, fold and staple. Doesn’t look too bad either. A lot of famous zines done this way. But yes, shipping is a drag. Total drag. I hear ya.

  2. Doesn’t blurb have some capacity for printing and fulfilling in far off places?

    I remember looking at what it would cost to send a demand printed book to someone maybe in Australia, and the prices sure looked like they were printing in country.

    Maybe only some formats? And if course you’re printing single copies and drop shipping, neither of which may fit with your desires.

    1. AM,
      Yes, we have an international shipping network but the world is a grand place. I think we shipped to almost 70 countries last year. But shipping rates vary tremendously.

  3. You are an energy pill, pretending to be a regular (photographer, writer, creative book promoter, motivational speaker, hand held light meter using or not) kind of guy.

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