Creative: ESSAY Magazine, Issue One, Update Two

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Have I told you how excited I am about this project?

I’m not entirely sure why, but I am. It could be the fact I haven’t published in a while. It could be because it’s always amazing to see your own work in print even if it isn’t perfect. It could be because I feel inspired to shoot for the first time in a long while.

But like I said and wrote about before, THINGS CHANGE. So this is where we are right now at this very second.

1. I was hoping to get back out to this area before I release the first issue but I’m not sure I’m going to make it. I could wait but it might be February before I get a chance. Not sure I can wait that long. A second issue devoted to an update could be doable.

2. I wasn’t planning on sharing the insides of the magazine because I wanted there to be mystery, but with this first issue I’m going to scrap that idea and share everything. Many of you have seen some of this work, so the mystery is gone for some of the images anyway.

3. I uploaded the test copies and the magazine was printed and shipped in TWO DAYS. Crazy fast. I don’t expect that but it’s a nice surprise.If you are going to do this you HAVE to make test runs. So many people I see rush to print, like I do, but bet everything their first run is going to be perfect, and when it isn’t they start looking for someone else to blame. First run perfection is rare. A 40-page magazine is only $10. Make a test run. Trust me.

4. My original plan was Magcloud Digest and Blurb Magazine, but I scraped the Magcloud idea because many of you don’t have InDesign, nor do you want to have to use it. I then decided to do Blurb Magazine AND Blurb, 6×9, Trade. They end up being the same price, so I thought, “Well, I’ll JUST do magazine.” But, I have to say, I have both in hand, as you can see here, and I LOVE both formats. I think I’ll keep doing both.

5. I used the Blurb “Change Format” tool to produce the Trade version seconds after completing the magazine. This thing works incredibly well. The only thing I really have to work on was the text. I have pages of text in the magazine, so when you shrink it down to 6×9, instantly, the text doesn’t seem to have anywhere to go. It overflows the existing layout, so what I have to do is just add a few pages. No big deal, and so nice to have it land so close to perfect.

6. There was a trim issue on the cover. Entirely my fault. Moving too fast. Easy remedy.

7. The black and white images made with TMAX 3200 look incredible printed. A sea of grain. I also love the knockout quotes on these pages. I’m keeping this look.

8. I love my cover design which is directly influenced by the original Life Magzine. Keeping this throughout the life of the magazine

9. The font size on my copy inside the magazine is too large. I used 11 point font, and it should be 9 or ten. Just looks a little large for my taste.

10. My intro will be fine with smaller text and slight placement change. Will keep this page throughout every issue to give new readers an explanation of what the series is.

11. There are three spreads with totally stark pages. One small, mostly black object is the only art on the spread. A bird on one, men on another and a plane on the final. I’m up in the air about these spreads and would probably replace them if I had a chance to go back and reshoot.

12. The copy on the two column pages of text is too large. Needs a reduction like the rest. I also need to add something else to those pages. Not sure what yet but they are too plain.

13. The images running double truck look fantastic.

14. I thought I would hate the pages with four, color, horizontal images but I actually think they look great and are perfect in offsetting the large, single image spreads. They help with the cadence of the magazine.

15. The technical notes will expand.

16. I’m confused about the design. Overall. Here is the issue. I want this to be so many things. I could JUST make this an essay with no behind the scenes, no other artwork, no found objects, etc. and JUST make it about the photography, or I could keep to the idea that this is about story, about lifestyle, about choices, about the random and wonderful idea of telling stories, which is what I THINK I’m going to do, but if I do this is really complicates the design. I’m just not there yet. Stay tuned.

17. I used three fonts so far. Title and subtitles. Body copy. Knockout quotes. I like two of the three but need to change the body copy font. Unless changing the size suddenly makes it okay.

18. I can’t believe how good the small version, or Trade version, looks. I think I might like it the best. Too early to tell but very surprised by how much this format works for this style of pub. I’m going to keep making both.

19. Did I mention how excited I am about this print series? Even after all these publications over the years. Even though there are a hundred things wrong with this first issue. Even though the work isn’t new. This is FUN.

20. This will be a for sale publication. I can already hear the voices. “How many copies have you sold?” “How can you sustain yourself with that?” I need to say this ONCE again. I will never sustain myself from this endeavor, nor do I have any interest in trying. I don’t know a single human being that sustains themselves from their private magazine or book sales. Not one. I don’t even know anyone who is remotely close. I know people who ACT like they are making copious money with book sales, but I know the truth behind these facades. This is just an exercise for me, a truly FUN exercise. I’m a nobody in the photography world. Maybe a few people will buy them, maybe not. Selling publications is incredibly difficult, even for the stars of our industry. The best books are typically printed in 1500-3000 book runs, and even these numbers are shrinking. High volume image books are typically point-of-purchase, celebrity or cultural books that appeal to the lowest common denominator. There are exceptions. For me, if the right ten people get this magazine I’ll be happy, even if I have to buy it and ship it to them.

More updates on the way….stay tuned my photo friends. Go publish!

Comments 18

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      It’s rough at the moment, but hopefully will be smooth soon. Blurb has a 40% off coupon good until the 8th, so I’m cranking. Also pulling images for Issue Two.

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      Soon. Cleaning it up now. I’m hot and cold about this one. It’s the first one, so it should be good but I’m not going to be able to get back to make new work. At least not now.

  1. Looking good, Daniel; I’ll be wanting a copy too. Which fonts did you use and how do you get white text on the cover? Love the cover, as you say, very Life Magazine.

    I’ve just ordered a book myself. Small square, proline paper. It’s just a 22 page introduction to my photographs; an ice-breaker. Perhaps it’s just me but I feel that since the advent of the internet and social media, people (some people) are more suspicious of photographers in public places, so this will be my way of introducing myself, if necessary. I totally agree about the need to proof read! I have checked the book at least three times (only 22 pages) and found mistakes each time. Here’s hoping.

    Every time I think of your upcoming essay, the song Mr Peabody’s Coal Train comes to mind. I’m really intrigued to see what you produce. No pressure then.


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      I used three fonts. Title, body copy and knockout quotes. Bebas, Avenir and something else I can’t remember. EVERYONE is suspicious. It’s terrible. Print works well. I always have a magazine with me when I do field work.

  2. I’ve been wanting to do a Trade version of a book through Blurb for ages. But I keep pausing as I’m worried how the quality of the paper and the images will end up. Is the trade paper matte? That you chose? Hearing how much you’re raving about it I might just go ahead and finish the book and print it. Especially if there is a sale.

    Looking forward to the first issue Daniel and I’ll want the trade version! 🙂

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      Never wait. With anything photographic. Just DO. Start testing. If you have never made a book before the odds of making the perfect anything are near zero. The paper may or may not ever be a concern. Trade paper is GREAT. Even the cheapest paper we offer can make incredible books, but if you wait you will never know. Just start testing. A starting point would be a default size 6×9 with standard color paper in softcover. Also remember the ONLY people who look at paper quality are other photographers. Nobody else cares. They are either inspired by your work and design or they aren’t. Good luck, have fun.

  3. Looks pretty cool Dan. I really like the magazine version myself. Printed one some time ago and photos look pretty good in that format and paper.
    I have couple projects in mind that i want to put together and print. I was thinking in the trade book format using the cheapest paper option there is or going straight zine style and do it by hand. Will see.

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      The trade is great. Cheapest paper is the cream black and white, which is a 60#, ivory base. Not right for many things but if you prep you files right…..looks really cool. But, black and white only. I use the standard color. It’s matte and it looks great. Not thick, not fancy. Just good and also inexpensive.

  4. This would be helpful to have. Up here (we say ‘up’ because of maps), in the town that I call home, whenever I say, “Daniel Milnor, that creative on the internet who has that blog, shifter”! People are, like, “blog? Shift what?” I can just see myself (as I reach for the dog-eared copy) saying, ‘here, LOOK’. A picture is worth a few words, and small publication (the smaller version will fit my camera bag better – just saying) a proper essay.

    Stoked that you are stoked. Your enthusiasm is infectious.

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      First issue will be done soon. Second issue has begun. At some point I need to get out for a fresh story….

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  5. Will definitely keep an eye out for the finished zine. My son just took advantage of the 40% off coupon to print a photo book for an Independent Study project he completed on Macro Photography this semester. I hope him and his professor are happy with the results. It was fun to watch the project change as he shot and received feedback on it. Always enjoy the blog Dan. Thanks for sharing.

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      I just used the 40% as well. And the 50%! Keep me posted. Tons of schools use Blurb. Always good to see.

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