Create: How to Make a Test Book

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I’m sure there are people out there who are REALLY sick of me harping on about this idea. The idea of a test book. But here’s the flip side of that coin. Two more people reached out this week asking about this very thing. So, now you have to endure yet another film about it.

You should see my hair. It’s quarantine hair for sure and I’m really pleased with it. My wife, not so much. It’s greasy, it’s long and it’s only going to get greasy and longer. And I’ve stopped showering for the most part. And my beard will will world class before all is said and done.

I actually DID buy this shirt in middle school and it still fits. I’ve been hitting the cycle trainer for an hour every day, and yoga and running and hiking and people are giving me that look of “Oh my GOD, eat something, please.” But man do I feel good. Inspired, motivated, productive as Hell and camouflaged. I feel this is a responsibility in a time of crisis. What if? What if I do this film, someone sees it and then ends up documenting an important aspect of their experience for the world to see and learn? Never know.

Comments 10

  1. oh my. and i thought i was losing it…

    btw, as always, great advice. my last test was a premium magazine. images, color and text came out awesome.

    headed down to the trainer.

  2. Great advice, Dan. I must admit that when I thought of a test book, I thought of the initial, first, completed book: the one that I would order just to make sure that the cover didn’t have a white line around the edge etc. I didn’t think of trying different fonts or font size or even ordering the same test book on different papers.

    On another topic, I watched your YouTube video where you describe your time in photojournalism and your time working for Kodak.
    I was particularly interested to hear just how much Kodak was involved with Salgado’s Workers. I recall that they get a ‘sponsored by Kodak’ credit in the book but their level of commitment was really not appreciated (or perhaps forgotten) by me. Thank you Kodak.
    I remember that when the book came out, there was a documentary on (U.K.) BBC television which I recorded and probably wore out the videotape watching.

    I particularly love your work in Sicily.

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      Thanks Mike,
      Well, I’ve heard plenty of rumor about the Salgado/Kodak relationship, most of which I totally believe. There was ONE guy at Kodak who really made that project happen. And it was well worth the effort. One of the best projects ever done.

  3. This is all great. But I think I need a Uncle Alexa Danno robot assistant. I’ve made two Blurb books now, one was technically MagCloud (the Doggerland one I sent you). I viewed both as test efforts. I was playing around, wasn’t stressed, LOVED the results. My problem, or one among many problems, is that I am not as methodical as you. I haven’t got that filing cabinet set up, and I’ve already forgotten what I was experimenting with. That’s my hurdle I need to sort. I didn’t approach it in a manner that will prevent my next book from still having that disastrously inappropriate typeface. That’s ok. I’m not worried. I’m not the next Robert Capa. Even a messed up test book has been more meaningful and rewarding than any finished image I’ve posted to that lousy Instagram.

    I’m glad your brother didn’t run you over.

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      He came really, really close. A hundred times. Probably took a year of my life. That’s what older brothers do. As for the book, ya. I kinda feel the same. I’m not as wrapped up in the perfection. I like the exercise.

  4. Thanks Dan,
    Great quarantine project for sure.

    I do this in my design work as well. I design denim, and I actually have a pair of jeans that has many different thread thicknesses and colors, button sizes, belt loop widths etc. I used to reference it often, but now I know what my style is and what I like thanks to it.

    This reminded me of the same technique.
    Great idea!

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  5. I love this! Very helpful…..but with that shirt (and how many espressos did you have before hitting the on button?) it’s probably a good thing you’re in quarantine right now…..out on the street we might be looking at 72 hour observational hold.



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      I will let you borrow that shirt if you are nice. Espresso? Me? Never. I just made a drawing a kinda like. A new tree in the yard. I’m somewhat giddy because about 5% of it looks kinda real. Baby steps.

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