Creative: Cover Your Bases

Permalink Leave a Comment

Just do it. Stop overthinking it and just put something in motion. Don’t make me come over there. This is about freedom and fun, not about torturing yourself while playing the angst ridden photographer. Trust me, if you ARE playing the angst ridden photographer, your friends and family just wish you would go away, or maybe that you will forego photography for full contact chess or tai chi in the park. When things get serious, down the line, there will be plenty of chances to flex your perfection muscle, but in the meantime, just make something spontaneous.

Don't be afraid to throw things at the wall when designing your first book. Experimenting is part of the process.
Kitchy, garrish, dated, just what I was after.

As many of you know, I just returned from a class in Peru. I shot appoximately 2100 images but most were multiple exposures, so think roughly 600 as opposed to the full 2100. My quick, fast, wide take is 267 images, but there are perhaps thirty that would make a final cut, and that is being generous, something I am prone to do when making journals of the work. Journals are not intended for a mass audience and will be “altered” after the fact, so some of the images aren’t intended to stand on their own.

Some of the images are meant to be modified.

The cover is always a fun but challenging aspect of bookmaking. The covers, in short, freak people out, which is why I’m telling you to just throw something at the wall. Heck, throw several somethings at the wall. This is how it works. You experiment and you tinker and you tweak. But let’s back up a minute.

Don't be afraid to throw things at the wall when designing your first book. Experimenting is part of the process.
A little tame, a little basic. And does this image really reflect my goal with the story? No.

Early on during my Peru voyage I came to a tentative title for my project. (Golf y Guzman: La Historia Nueva, Peru Entre 1992 y 2023) The title is intended to be long, over-the-top, ornate. Title, subtitle, complicated, verbose, etc. This is the ONLY book I’ve made using this ideology. For me, this was intended to help tell a serious story in a humorous way. The idea is to contrast statistics from the war, things like “70,000 dead or disappeared,” with statistics from modern Peru. Things like “Cost for lunch at Central, $300USD.”

You have to remember, many Americans can’t find Peru on a map and the vast majority have no knowledge of Peru’s internal conflict with The Shining Path. Most American’s have an Instagram level knowledge of places, which is to say, pretty damn shallow. If I try to produce a serious book about Peru, a commendable task, I wouldn’t have much luck getting folks to read it. Design a journal style book with modified pages loaded with statistics and quotes, well, I might have a slight chance.

Don't be afraid to throw things at the wall when designing your first book. Experimenting is part of the process.
This is a mess but some of these concepts work for my ideology.

So what you see here is a series of cover options. all of which were done in a total of fifteen minutes. You might say, “It looks like it,” and you would be correct. Again, for the love of God, stop thinking that anyone cares about your every move. I’ve sat in meetings while covers were designed by pros, and believe me, there are crude sketches, long-shots and horrid decisions happening.


Snowflakes want you to believe their lives are perfect, harmonious, cinematic orgies of pure bliss. I’m too old and too realistic to be a snowflake, so I prefer to tell you like it is. Throwing things at the wall is FUN. Remember playing dodgeball? Winging that little red blob into your friend’s head at warp speed was FUN. Making books is exactly like this.

Don't be afraid to throw things at the wall when designing your first book. Experimenting is part of the process.
This would be fine for a portfolio but not for my story.

Print scares photographers at all levels. You might think fear of print only infects consumers and prosumers but you would be incorrect. It impacts everyone. Print forces you to make serious decisions that come with a tangible cost. Make a bad cover decision and your project is doomed. Print sixty pages instead of forty and you incur more cost but also incur the loss of attention you will encounter by NOT editing to the degree you should have. It’s FAR easier to just watch YouTube or go on IG or stream some Netflix than it is to be critical of your work.

I’m here to tell you it’s okay, and I’m here to tell you it gets better with practice. I’ve said many times before, “If you aren’t printing you are a poser.” I’ve so rarely seen digital space photographers make the tough decisions required to go to print, or even edit their portfolio for inspection. It’s just TOO easy to leave things in. But when staring at a page layout you realize immediately that one sloppy decision comes with consequence.

So why not chill and make whatever comes to mind. You don’t have to print any of your initial experiments. Just use them as as roadmap for continuing your photographic adventure. Your friends and family will appreciate your attitude and your curation of the things you deem important.

Leave a comment