Creative: The Albania Project, Part Three

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Copy that. Roger. Copy. And stop calling me Roger. So, what have we covered so far? The main dish, double exposures. The appetizer, the stand-alone single images, and now we move on to perhaps the most important and most personal of parts; the copy. Copy? Roger?

My current cover and back cover. The vertical “Deklasifikuar” is used throughout the book as a constant visual element.

Copy, historically, scares photographers to death. Why? Because a lot of people fall prey to the urban myth that “photographers can’t write.” Or, they are just lazy. Writing good copy takes a different skill set than making images, and often times writing is much more difficult than making images. Writing takes a clear brain, which some people equate to the terror of staring at a blank canvas.

Now, wanna see a photographer who can write. Check out Charlene’s work. She’s my idol. She went from zero to sixty in the photography world and now lives and works from Iraq where she is writing solid pieces about a range of topic far more important than anything I’m involved in. Me on the other hand, well, I just do whatever I feel like. Consequently, I’m not telling you to copy my writing style or my substance. But what I am telling you to copy is the fact that I write on a daily basis, regardless of how awful my writing actually is.

Albania was a combination of three types of writing, all of which come into play in the final project, which at the moment is a Blurb Premium Magazine. I JUST ORDERED THE FIRST TEST COPY. NINETY-TWO PAGES OF PURE BLISS.

The stream of consciousness based on observational analysis of my surroundings. Presented as full-page, knockout quotes.

First, stream of consciousness based on observational analysis of my surroundings. I decided to take these passages and break them out into oversized, full-page streams. Almost like a full-page knockout quote. I’ve done this before in my magazine-style publications and it worked well, so why not use something I know works? I truly love this style of writing because it’s all about freedom and speed. I typically write three to four of these passages a day. This is one way of making it FEEL like I am making progress.

Quotes slow the reader down.

Second, quotes. I overheard a variety of REALLY solid quotes while in-country, some humorous others super serious and very to-the-point in regard to the Albanian view of life. I decided to run these quotes OVER the top of certain images. Now, when I was in school, back in the day, this would have been considered blasphemy. But today, when attention span is SO short, what I’ve realized is a good quote will slow the reader down. That’s it. That’s why I designed it that way, and that is why I think this works.

The one, small block in regard to being in Albania. Not particularly interesting.

Finally, I wrote a single paragraph of history. Not Albanian history, my history with landing in the country. It’s short, it’s not that important but it MIGHT answer a question or two about why I went and frankly it looks nice.

The copy is a HUGE part of the design. Speaking to this, in particular, I also took the title of the piece, “Deklasifikuar” and created a vertical type element that runs along with each page of copy. This element contains the title but also the date and time of where I wrote the specific piece. This small, vertical element adds something to a spread that would otherwise be fairly bare. I used a grand total of three fonts.

Small, vertical element on the left is a constant and provides specific time data.

I hope by now you are beginning to see and understand how a project comes about, and how I try to make sense of something far beyond me. I’ve done this for my entire adult life, but that means virtually nothing. This style of work takes practice, a lot of practice, and even then there is no guarantee of success, whatever that may be. By the way, if you haven’t used the “manage pages” feature in Blurb Bookwright you are missing the boat. It’s a GREAT tool for editing sequence.

For me it’s personal. Albania was a new experience, a new chapter, and I’m organizing this experience into a printed piece that will outlive me. Hopefully. Maybe some space kid will find it in the rubble of our civilization? How cool would that be? The final post on this project will be about the magazine I created. I also plan on creating a Layflat book from this as well as a Trade version of some sort. Stay tuned my friends.

Comments 8

  1. Looking pretty neat so far, my type of book/photo/copy. Yep all three. The cover is brilliant. You should give yourself a little more credit once in a while.

    Staying tuned.

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      I’ll take credit when it’s due…but this is just okay as a project. Thanks for the kind words however. There are things I think work well but with such a short time it’s not like I’m going to rewrite history.

  2. Really cool. Inspiring. And love how you always get an Airplane quote in there! Don’t call me Shirley! This post reminds me I started on a Blurb Magazine last month, gotta get back to working on that.

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  3. I remember sometime.. maybe in the 1980s? there was some sort of weird full court press from Albania to pitch it as a Worker’s Paradise and you’d run across wild-eyed college students who would tell you HOW GREAT IT ALL WAS and you could go there and take The Tour and everything.

    The Soviets did something similar, of course, but the Albanians seemed to take it to some sort of a new level for a few years there. I guess it must have been the early 80s, since Enver Hoxha died in 1985. I turned 20 in 1985. Even as a kid it was pretty clear to me that the whole story was pretty fishy, but in a weirdly compelling way.

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      It’s a truly interesting place with a unique history and still uncertain future. The Soviets took their turn. Then the Chinese and now…who knows. The developers?

  4. Albania is a fascinating choice for a vaca/visit. It’s terra incognita for most of us. Cudos on your choice. I’ve recently gotten interested the the “thereness” of places. So when people ask you what it’s like there what do you say?

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      That’s a hard one. I’m not sure what to say. I find that many people are traveling as another notch on the belt kind of thing, which isn’t my thing. I’ll happily go just about anywhere for just about any reason. I can’t often talk about a place, accurately, until I’ve been there multiple times.

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