You see, I’ve gone and done it again. Over three hundred. There, I beat you to it. “Dan, how many books have you made with Blurb?” Somewhere there, over there near the three hundred aisle. But what you might also ask is, “How many GOOD books have you made?” Well, my friends, that number is quite low. Making a good book isn’t easy. Not by a long shot, regardless of book.
With photography, especially the style I prefer, it takes copious time and resource. Long-term you say, with a full-time job? Throw in people-based and things just got exponentially more complex. So now I do what I can. The style of my work has shifted, something I’m just now beginning to enjoy, as have my bookmaking habits.
Gone are the “client” books of past, things like hardcover photobooks with high-end materials and in are the gritty structures of the “Zine-type” world. Sketches if you will. And even with these “sketches” there are always the test books.
Albania was my chance, my last chance. To break free of the umbilical and just see. At least to give myself the opportunity to do so. The fifty strapped to my chest, sweat rolling and eyes squinting against the glare. The world on me, like a coating on my skin. Noise and dust. Compiling things with the camera and pen, and at times, inside the mind. The off-limits playground that makes you you and me, well, me.
The Zine comes together quickly. That’s the point with a first draft. Gut instinct, laziness and intrigue. This isn’t for you, or for me even. This is for the world, the place, the people and the experience. Honor it. Give it time. Give it space. Invest in it without desire for reward. This object will arrive and you will slowly slide your fingers across the pages, smell the ink and replay the moments.
As you return to your life the story will begin to haunt you. It nibbles at you from the darkness of quite moments when you want to relax but know you cannot. Because the story will never, ever fade entirely. Nor does the experience. And then you reach for the object and you reflect, you stare, wonder and drift. And the drift is where it begins again. The revision.
Step two, version two. A change of typeface. From border to bleed. A rewrite. Room to breath. Stand down and let it flow. Front to back. Front matter, back matter, no matter perhaps. And the secondary players culled forever. From 2124 to 395 to 29 to 9. That’s it. You don’t get anymore. This is why we do this. To know when you have it and when you don’t.