Creative: What’s the Blurb Holdup?

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As you know, I’ve made a lot of books. Heck, there are some people who believe I’ve made TOO many books. But perhaps there are a few who wish I had made even more? My point is I don’t have a problem getting started, nor do I have a problem finishing. But I know I’m not normal.

My question to you is this. If you downloaded the Blurb software or installed the InDesign plugin but you never actually completed a book I’m curious as to why this is? I have my theories, the first being that many of us are not that skilled in shooting, editing, ranking, archiving and then retrieving our images, so the issue with finishing a book comes more like the issue of starting a book.

I grew up in the film era, so when I’m making images in the field I’m thinking of single images. I’ve never understood that digital photography philosophy of “just shoot as much as you want,” because every time I hear this the first thing I think is “Geez, somebody is going to have to edit all that.”

I’ve taught my share of photo workshops over the years, and I once had someone shoot twenty-five gigs in one morning. Regardless of your file size, THAT is a lot of images. Attempting to edit that down to a useable number can stifle even the best of editors.

The same could be said of how we label our images and where we keep them. Last year I had a request for a film image I made in 1990. I had the image in my hand in less than two minutes. Recently, I had a request for a digital file I made fifteen years ago. My first thought was “Oh boy, I hope I still have it.” Then came “I wonder where exactly this image is?” Now, I found the digital file I was looking for but it took moving and opening boxes, finding old DVD drives, connecting wires and boxes and gadgets, etc. Had I been trying to make a book of old, digital files I might not have made the effort.

So my question is what is holding you up? What is your personal book Kryptonite? Mine is not having new material. I rarely get a chance to shoot these days or do long term projects, so I’ve got a lack of snaps issue, or more critically, I’ve got a lack of GOOD snaps issue. You might have a lack of desire? A lack of knowledge as to why a book is so important? Or perhaps it is because you consider yourself a perfectionist and just can’t seem to hit print? What about the fear of being judged? An old computer? Confusion over materials? Don’t have the funds?

I’m asking because anytime I run into someone who tells me “I downloaded the software but never got around to making a book,” I’m instantly intrigued. Because I remember when I downloaded the Blurb software. I remember EXACTLY where I was when I downloaded the now unsupported yet beloved BookSmart. And I remember stopping everything I was doing. And I remember making a sample book, right then and there. Life has never been the same since.

Comments 8

  1. I completed my first book not too long after learning about Blurb premium magazine from a guy who wouldn’t stop rambling about it and yak hunting. I have another order coming in the mail or being printed as I write this. I have another project I want to put in book form, just need to have some of the text revised. And a possible few more book project for the Summer. No hold up. People love to look at those premium magazines, they look so good and pretty cheap to print.

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  2. I’ve done a few Blun books. To me
    My greatest deterrents from doing more are:

    1. It’s not as easy for me to edit and sequence something that truly works. I’m a perfectionist. I’m sure that does not help, but still, I need input and time before I make coherent work that works well together.

    2. My design skills. I can imagine what I would like yet I have a hard time making it happen. I’m not talking about layout and placement of images which I can get by. Im talking about adding that extra touch where I get stuck. The books might work without it, but if I’m going to spend on printing, I really want that extra touch in there.

    Hopes this helps Dan!

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      You bring up a really good point. Perfectionism. That is a hard one. I’m not sure what a perfect photography book is, and I’m not sure I own one. I’m wondering what would happen if I reached out to photographer/designer combos and asked them if they thought their book was perfect. I’m guessing most if not all would say no. I think you are a perfect candidate for test books. Small, softcover test books. Break the ice then go for perfect. I’m in the same boat when it comes to design.

  3. Only thing stopping me from making more books is time and money.

    I’m all digital now, but 100% project oriented. If I’m shooting “seriously”, it’s for the book/zine I have in mind or am making now. Honestly, I kinda lose track of the pictures once I’ve pressed print. It’s probably on one of my external drives. And blurb’s got a copy of the book, so I guess there’s that.

    I’ve become a book guy, not much a Photos guy, so I guess that’s what’s up with that. Generally I figure if I lose a photo I can probably just go make another one that’s close enough. I might have to wait for rain, or snow, or winter, but I can get another one.

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      I might be transitioning back to photo guy. But, I spend nearly thirty years of my life being full time photo guy. It took me nine years to detox, but now I’m relapsing. The book is full circle for me, like a small puzzle. Solve it and move on. I guess I’m getting addicted to the hunt once again. Haven’t felt this way in nearly a decade but the feeling is distinctive.

  4. Me again! I’m going to, I dunno, is this tooting my own horn? Or is it genuinely reaching out to make the world a better place (with more books)?

    If you’ve been trying or aspiring to get something done, I have a pretty specific offer. Do take some time to read it, and the linked “Manifesto” and if you just want a book filled with white pages, one photo centered on each page with generous margins, please just do that yourself (you CAN, I promise you!)

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      Communist, capitalist. You’ve got it all. What’s not to like. I’m in. I’ll send you something. Bug me if you don’t get something.

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