Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SoFoBoMo Final Stretch

(Click on the thumbnail to view larger image)

As I make my way through the final stages on my book, I am shaking my head over some of the discoveries.

1. This isn’t the book I intended to make. When I signed up for SoFoBoMo, I was looking forward to trying my hand at producing an elegant book with a small number of images (close to the required limit) that would somewhat accurately represent the best work I am capable of at this point in my life and still stay within the time limits. I thought I was making a book to learn about producing a photo book and get past the fears of tackling such a mammoth project, so I would be encouraged to later produce such a book without the time constraints. I intended to be shrewd and disciplined by including little text—to make it a photo book in the purest sense of the term. That decision would allow me to focus exclusively on the images and the layout thus saving valuable time.
Instead, I ended up making something that met almost none of my initial objectives.

2. The book has turned out to be bulky (plenty of text, after all), and a much bigger mess than I thought I could tolerate, but each time I have tried to make it fit into anything vaguely resembling that elegant image in my mind, the whole thing fell apart and became so utterly meaningless that I couldn’t bear to finish it.

3. Choosing a very personal focus for my book ended up being a double-edged sword. The hunger to capture images that would later serve as a bittersweet reminder of the home I have loved for twenty years provided the emotional heat that powered me through the long hours, but perhaps melted my brain. The book is a mass of contradictions and examples of a project gone berserk. For example, there are far too many images in the book for the project I wanted to produce and only about half enough to satisfy the hunger that drove the work. Furthermore, while I envisioned something simple and elegant, the final product is sprawling, decidedly untidy, and as much in need of pruning as the locations that I photographed.

4. Ultimately, this is a reminder that all creative endeavors are a messy business and filled with unpredictability—indeed, for many of us that is part of its joy. I am pretty much spent and have left for myself this one day for proofing text and finding assorted gremlins.

5. The journey has been frustrating, exhausting, inspiring, and I have crammed more new information into my head in the two months of preparation and execution than I dreamed possible. Still, I am grateful that I lost my head and signed up to be part of this madness.


  1. What's the house like that you are leaving ?

    Would you describe it as 'simple and elegant' or 'sprawling, decidedly untidy and much in need of pruning' ?

  2. I'm with you, Anita! This project certainly took on a life all of its own. It sounds like your grand plans had other plans for you! :-)

    Perhaps you can, in the remaining hours, make a book that is a subset of the big book that you want. Then, later, you can go and make the book of your vision when you have time. At least that's the way it would work in theory.

    You've certainly described the ride accurately. It is exhausting. I think that when you finally finish it up, you'll set back, admire your work, and feel the exhaustion set in. I've not wanted to do much of anything since I finished. My camera, for the most part, has remained dormant and I certainly haven't fired up Scribus.

    I'm excited to see your work.

  3. Gordon:
    What an excellent point. While the house itself doesn't fit that description, the yard where I took the majority of shots, as well as the nearby location certainly do. I had already confessed in my book that much of what I see as flaws or disappointments in the book are actually reflections of myself.


    That's an excellent idea. Still, I must confess that I am so relieved to be near completion that I can't even think about taking on another version of it now. Maybe after we have moved, and I have a little more objectivity. Right now, I am so caught up in my emotions and struggling mightily with my increasing ambivalence about the move. Not surprisingly, spending all this time really looking at my beautiful (to me) surroundings has made me even more reluctant to say goodbye.

  4. Anita,
    at the end of the day we are doing these books for us. In that sense I think yours achieved that objective perfectly. Great job.

  5. Rafa, thanks for visiting. You are so right, of course. This was about making something for yourself and something to learn by. The learning was the big payoff.


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