Self-publishing is all about freedom. Freedom to do what you want, when you want and in the material style you want. You shoot, edit, sequence, design, print and then most importantly you move to the next project. This way as a photographer you remain a photographer and not someone who must spend twelve to eighteen months managing a book while your cameras gather dust and your bank account plummets.(Sometimes, however, this exact challenge is worth every agonizing moment and penny.)
My partner in this endeavor is Garry Trinh. “Our man” in Sydney. Garry is a local legend really, but you would never know it by listening to Garry. He doesn’t say much. He just watches. Garry is a street photographer at heart. He sees things on the street I do not. Patterns, shapes, moments. Where I see nothing he sees the humor and subtlety of life. He’s exhibited many times, published many books and also has a deep knowledge of photography, photography books and where he fits in the greater photographic world. Oh, and he’s also a designer. Not fair.
Last night at the world’s smallest table at a local sushi restaurant I asked him about publishing. We recently did a book installation in Sydney and of the thirty or so books on display Garry’s was stolen in the first hour of the first day. Not a single other book was lifted over the span of the exhibition. This should tell you something.
“I don’t care about selling,” he said. “I print fifty books, maybe sell them or trade them with other photographers and then move on.” “I have too many projects I want to do.” This is one point where Garry and I are on the same page, and this is also where print-on-demand printing really shines. Garry and I are working on real-time publication at the moment. Shot over the last few days, edited, printed 4×6, sequenced on the floor of my hotel room and will ultimately be sent to print in the next few days. By the time my jet lag fades into the California sunset I will be leafing through my copy.
This publication is a sketch of our time, random moments and is also a lot fun, something that often times gets lost in the occasionally brutal world of publishing. It can also get lost in the occasionally brutal world of self-publishing when photographers put undue pressure on themselves to make the perfect book, often times with little or no bookmaking experience. Bookmaking shouldn’t require coal to diamond pressure. You can take it seriously, and make the best book you can make, but try your best to enjoy it. There are plenty of other issues in life that will suck up your other energy.
The first idea we came up with is “fade.” From the warm and bright to the dark and monotone. This is just one concept of the book, but it’s a nugget to start with. And we have a tentative title….but you have to tune in to post number two to find out what this is……
I like the idea of being so good someone steals your book! Intrigued also by the ‘fade’ concept for your book layout, something I, personally, wouldn’t have thought about. I usually (loosely) arrange my photos in chronological order; I’ve only made one photo book but do intend to make many more, all thanks to you, Daniel. Your fault. You say that I (we) should calibrate our computer screens: why can’t they be calibrated during manufacture?
Although your time has been very limited, you’ve taken some good photographs during this trip.
Just think of these books as sketches. Not as statements about anything. It’s much more enjoyable this way. Sequencing images is key. It’s an art form. That’s why we once had editors who did nothing else. Most of these people are gone now. Sadly. Monitors will sway in and out of calibration, so even if they are calibrated during manufacture they still need to be recalibrated regularly.