Friday, June 6, 2008

Making Photo Books—Lots of Them

(Click on the thumbnail to view larger image)

Last night, I fell into bed exhausted and realized that I have made four photo books in four months. If I didn’t know better, I might think that sounded impressive—but, I know better.

After all, the first photo book was just a test book thrown together in March. It was a rush job to catch a free Shutterfly offer and it’s extremely simplistic. I wanted to see a sample book including the type of images I planned to shoot for the SoFoBoMo project. The virtual book I made in April for the SoFoBoMo challenge, was a product of many hours of work and much unnecessary—but typical of me—angst and completed as a PDF, not printed at all.

The May book was a special gift for a friend and contained photos taken over many years rather than any new work. This friend is from the endurance racing world and I have had the distinct pleasure of photographing many of Liz’s horses. When I got the invitation to one of the big barbecues she and her guy throw at their horse-haven a few miles south of us, I decided to make a photo book for her. (That was the secret project I worked on last month and, fortunately, it was a hit.) Naturally, I couldn’t just deal with the profile/gamut nightmare for Blurb. I had to get fancy. I created a map, wrote a dedication along with a fairy-tale type opening to the pictures, and I just had to include some photos I had never processed.

When I finished the book for Liz, I had no intention whatsoever of making another book for quite a while, having already confessed that I felt drained by facing all the self-imposed deadlines one after another. Alas, it was not meant to be. Yesterday after receiving some encouragement from another friend who has seen Liz’s book, I began to noodle the idea of making a similar book for myself. After all, I had barely had time to glance at the gift book and some of my personal favorites of all the equine images I had made were in that book. So, I casually popped into the Shutterfly site to remind myself how much money an out-of-work no-prospects person looking at two mortgages that threaten to drain resources indefinitely would have to spend to actually pay this time for one of their photo books. Whoops! Why didn’t I get an e-mail? The photo books were discounted by 20% and the offer included free shipping. How could I pass up that invitation? There was only one rub: the deadline was June 5. Right, yesterday. Of course, I did it. I couldn’t directly use any of the Blurb work, because I had no idea what havoc that profile would produce at Shutterfly. Back to the drawing board. It was a long day—mostly because I brought in a number of additional images and edited out a few, but I did it. I know I will have some regrets, and it most assuredly is not the The Book I want to make with my equine images. But, it will be a book even though with a very small b, and it’s a start.

It would seem I am officially over the major anxiety produced by the challenge of producing a photo book. The thought no longer gives me a severe stomach ache and blurred vision. It’s not exactly a yawn, but it certainly isn’t overwhelming anymore.


  1. For your next book you should really consider using - quality is every bit as good as Shutterfly but their everyday prices beat Shutterfly's sale prices.

    Oh and they have over a dozen different book sizes to choose from!

  2. I'm curious to know which books from which companies actually looked and felt like books rather than looking like poorly bound inkjet prints with streaks and problems in them (yes, I've used Lulu -- can you tell?).

  3. Ah, now your have experience! :-) It sounds like you're hooked! I think that I am too, but I haven't done anything about it. I started on a top secret book after my return from Utah, but nothing has materialized yet and I'm certainly not printing just yet.

    I think that it's fantastic that you did a book for your friend using some of your older work. Heck! That's what it's for to be used and shared! That's great.

    Now, about those schedules! :-) You must love that sprint to the finish line! ;-)

  4. Paul, I look forward to seeing what you do with your Utah book. At least, now I have reached the point where the idea of a book doesn't feel so overwhelming anymore. The catch is that for these printed ones I am doing beginner versions—using the provided templates. I haven't gotten into putting something like my SoFoBoMo book into print. That will be the real test.

    And, about those sprints. That is a nuisance flaw in my character. I definitely need to learn to work slow and steady.


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