The journey to photobook bliss is as thin and difficult to walk as a razor’s edge, to steal from one of my all-time favorite books. “It’s easy to be a Holy Man on top of a mountain.” (Read The Razor’s Edge if you have not.)
I’ve spoken many times before about journaling. I believe journaling is one of the most important things any creative person can do. Heck, even “normal” people would benefit from this exercise. But I want to add to this conversation.
First, the most important thing you can add to your journal is the copy. Anyone can glue images in a book, try to make it perfect or hip and then call that a journal, but a journal to me is about truthful copy. Truthful to the degree that you will write things that make you uncomfortable. This one thing is the key to not only longevity in journaling but also the key to making something therapeutic.
You need to write as if no one else will ever see those pages, otherwise, you aren’t journaling. Otherwise, you are writing for your audience, or to attempt to get work, but NOT for you. This might serve a purpose but it won’t serve you in the long run.
I’ve included a few different images here, but all of these items I’m featuring are connected. I carry a paper journal, several pens, glue and sometimes a small printer. I do my normal duties making “small” images here and there that might be nice for my diary. I print, glue, paint, etc. But then I write. Sometimes in reverse.
I find the idea of writing is terrifying to more and more people. The Internet and television have killed off writing ability in massive numbers of us. Writing is too slow, too laborious and just simply takes too much-extended concentration, the kryptonite of modern culture.
I’ve also found that journaling is key to my bookmaking ability. Once something is flushed out in the journal it makes it far easier to convert this into a book of some sort. The perfect match for me is the Trade Book offering. I’ve actually started using the Trade Books as my journal. I use all three sizes. I love the fact I can create a journal and change up the page type and add my own images.
These books are inexpensive and allow me to continue the visual sketches I began in my journal. I’ve got an international trip coming up and I’ve already got my journal strategy worked out. This will require sacrifice. Less time screwing around and more time focused on making sense of my voyage.
One of the things that drew me to photography was the isolation. Even in the midst of chaos the camera can allow you be invisible and alone. The journal also works in this way.
If you haven’t journaled before let me help you get started. Forget about everyone else. Not a single other human being will see your diary. Perfect isn’t realistic and it’s also incredibly boring. Just start. Doesn’t matter what you write, how good it is, what the grammar is, how you “design” the pages or anything else. You don’t need a fancy fountain pen. You don’t need a specific brand of journal. You don’t need your desk to be perfectly organized and minimal like all the Instagram salespeople you see. You don’t need to make it hip or fancy or trendy. You just need to turn inward and ask yourself what life actually means.