Create: Journal Test

Permalink 8 Comments

I’ve made hundreds of books with the Blurb system. And many with Magcloud as well. And now that I think about it, I’ve been making books and magazines since 1996. I’ve used dozens of platforms. None of which were perfect but I never cared.

When it comes to print I’m a lean forward person. There is always something to complain about and boy do photographers love to complain. (Me too at times.) But rarely do complaints solicit the response we so desire. My view of printing platforms is that it is our job to find a way to use them. It’s not our job to find the things they DON’T offer then say we are going to wait until all these things exist before we make an attempt. (If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this I could buy a midsized American sedan. Not the top of the line model but certainly that midlevel package with extra cup holders.) It’s that simple.

Blurb reached out and asked me to test something so I stopped what I was doing and spent three hours making a test book. I’m not after perfect, whatever that is, and my primary goal is to test the system but I do also want to make something usable.

I decided to make a journal. My Uruguay work was on my desktop because I was creating a sample showcase for the AG23 microsite and had compiled a wide range of work from my project down south. I grabbed the black and white images and the color images with a bit of copy thrown in. Again, I needed to test the type tools, the shape tools, the image tools, etc. so I’m not after a narrative or a book that shows off my ability as a photographer.

One often leads to the other.

It had been a while since I made something like this. My current journal was created by Charlene but it’s getting close to complete, so I need something new. I have a stack of empty journals waiting to be utilized but none of them contain my work, so here we are.

If you haven’t made a book before, and you are feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed thinking about the possibilities, do yourself a favor and start with a journal or notebook. There is no right or wrong with notebooks. There is no need for a masterful edit or sequence. There is no need to feel the pressure of being judged for your cover art. This is the essential throw against the wall and see what sticks experiment.

And most importantly, it’s fun.

Me pointing at Argentina and a two-headed calf in a laboratory. We ate the rest of it.

Comments 8

  1. Something about journals. Even though I cringe when I go back and look at some of my old ones. I always tell myself I’m not just going to document document document. I went to X coffee shop. I had an Americano. It was a good Americano. Working through a moleskine while doing the somewhat flailing project I’m working on. I want to be able to glue Instax photos in there, but I’m still looking for that perfect notebook that allows you to do that without breaking the binding. I’ll often hesitate – I should scan these first. In about 4 or 5 sentences I’ve just taken you through a rambling stream of consciousness about my notebook anxieties. I hope everyone stopped reading after the first sentence.

    1. Post

      Just don’t overthink it. If the spine breaks then so be it. If the prints fall out so be it. The key, I think, is to just be honest and write whatever insanity passes through your mind. And keep it fun.

  2. I’m going to try this out.
    I have tons of random artwork from various disciplines of collage, photography, illustrations, painting – and it would be cool to add all this into a small compact format where I can write over it as I create/formulate new ideas for new projects.

    Plus it would be a good give away to people when they ask what I do – I can give them something that shows my talents in a package where they can create also!

    1. Post

      Giving away journals is huge, and fun and it promotes good activities in OTHER people. I just remembered an entirely different body of work I could have used. Oh well, time to make another.

    2. I got my journal and was waiting on some fountain pens that I ordered. Always wanted to write with fountain pens and for some reason or another never got around to it. I was fortunate to be in Japan for about 45 days – and walked into a beautiful store called Kaimori – you can make your own notebooks/journals from an array of paper stock and covers, they also have beautiful stationery made from mulberry, and in the back of the shop is a collection of fountain pens.
      I should have bought one – I didn’t. The one I loved was about 40$ (3840 ¥) clear plastic with a medium nib – but had a large reservoir of black indigo ink. Ugh. Still kicking myself.

      What I was able to get in the US – was a pen called the Platinum preppy. A low budget ($4) fountain pen that takes cartridges and comes in three nib sizes – I bought all three – Medium, Fine, and Extra Fine – but in my heart, I knew the Medium nib was the Goldilocks porridge of the three. Purchase some black indigo ink, some super dark black ink, and I was off to the races.

      I love your website – tons of inspiration about just making stuff for the beauty of creating, great reading selections (reading: Jennifer Silva’s book), and just welcomed measured view on photography/bookmaking that speaks to me.
      It has greatly influenced me – from creating my first photobook in Japan (over 6years – you were smogranch then) about a doomed love that burned twice as bright but half as long, to postcards with a portable canon printer, to zine-making, and now journals.

      Thank you for sharing your ideas, and those of other creatives that you have interviewed or have shared their work here as well.

    3. Post

      The Japanese are the best journal makers, pen makers, etc. I can’t imagine how great that would be. I had that same Preppy pen, loved it. I’m now using a Monami Olika, also a cheap fountain pen. I can actually read my writing with this thing…. So happy you are finding good stuff here. I am really digging in for new content these days, so should only get better…..and new journals just arrived.

  3. Funny story. A photographer friend of mine posted a question to her journaling friends for suggestions on different ways to approach it, to avoid that rut of Dear Diary. I wrote her and suggested she check out your site. She wrote back and said she’s followed your work for years, at least since a conference or talk at (I think) Photo Northwest,

    I just did a first cut on some images I want to put into a Blurb zine. Realizing now that I need a better system for following your thoughts on editing and book prep. There are three things in particular I’m trying to navigate back to (no, not asking you to do the work), just listing them here for my benefit.

    1) Edit. Edit ruthlessly. (“getting down to 500 images isn’t editing)
    2) Your video on the basics of designing / laying out the book.
    3) Using establishing shots, transition images, etc. Tying them together.

    1. Post

      Hey Scott,
      Going to work on a film about these things. Book prep is something a lot of folks are asking for and it feels overwhelming to lot of people, so there is a need. Ah, the journal. It’s the BEST. So much fun.

Leave a comment