The Book & Blog
For the record, I thought I’d put together a little history of how the cover for Publish Your Photography Book came about.
The first preliminary sketches for the cover design happened very early in the process, and were done in response to the need for something to go in the Princeton Architectural Press Spring 2011 catalog. Of course, that was being printed in summer of 2010, if I remember correctly. Mary Virginia and I were deep in the process of writing the book, and a few ideas got tossed about. We sent these off to Princeton Architectural Press, who used the 3rd one (below) in the catalog, but we felt like we needed to keep pushing the idea. (That’s how this 3rd design ended up on the papress.com website, and on Amazon for awhile.)
As Mary Virginia and I got closer to finishing the manuscript, Masumi Shibata and I began the process of photographing the various books that were to be featured. We’d set up a temporary shooting studio in one of the empty rooms in the Skolkin+Chickey offices. It consisted of 2 lights, a roll of paper and a card table. I had my tripod and Masumi brought his camera.
We needed to come up with some visuals for the chapter breaks. We had a stack of bulking dummies around the office from all of the books that were being worked on.(A bulking dummy is an unprinted, bound version of a book, made from the paper and cover materials you’ve decided on. A printer will provide this as a visual; it’s a chance to see the object before you’ve started printing.)
The bulking dummies were in all different sizes and shapes, but completely blank and wrapped in white paper boards and/or white dustjackets. They’re like the Platonic Ideal of a book. I thought we could photograph them in ways that would be perfect for the chapter delineations.
Masumi was the photographer, and I was sort-of the art director for these shoots. At one point I suggested photographing one of the bulking dummies with me holding it. I held it in front of my chest, in my lap, etc. It didn’t quite work. Then I held it off to the side, against the white back-drop. That worked, on some level.
David Chickey was the designer for the book, and between the 3 of us, with our proclivity for total minimal design (see Kenya Hara on design), we came up with a very austere cover treatment. It was perfect! Crisp, clean, and glowing with un-perturbed white space.
But Princeton Architectural Press, with their publishing wisdom, knew that this was too much like a non-descript Donald Judd sculpture, and wouldn’t help the book to sell copies. So they asked for some color. In the offices, there was a bookshelf that acted as a wall between the small kitchen area and the conference table where design meetings happened. I’d been gathering books there for a couple years, and had been bringing in copies of things for the book. It was virtually full, and I thought, maybe we could shoot me holding the book off to the side in front of this shelf. We tried it, and it looked great.
Back in the Santa Fe offices, we were all still under the spell of our perfectly white and austere book cover that we’d dreamed up earlier. So we sent off some ideas to PAPress, all of which were quite subdued. (In the first example, Masumi outlined the books on the shelves and we treated the background as an illustration. You can see the evolution from there.)
I had loosely styled the shelves for this shoot, without too much thought. We didn’t know if PAPress would go for the idea, so I hadn’t invested too much time in how the shelves looked. They loved the last treatment, in full color. We replied that we’d clean it up and send a more refined approach. I wanted it to read as a very casual, found arrangement; in fact almost all of the books that were being featured in our book were present on those shelves, along with a healthy dose of books by people that I admired, friends and colleagues alike. (It was my way to give a shout-out to all sorts of people.)
Here’s the untouched, un-Photoshopped single-frame take. My hand is literally holding that book in front of that shelf. We didn’t do it with layers (though we thought about it) or multiple stitched frames. Below that is the cropped version that would become the final cover. And below that is the back cover, which maintains the spirit of our austere first-stab attempts at a cover. The Platonic Ideal still sits there proudly, a tabula rasa that every photographer projects his desire for a book onto. It became the perfect blank slate for some back cover quotes from a few VIPs in the field.
The rest is history, as they say.
And now the 2nd edition is out!
BookExpo America . . . . . . . . . bookexpoamerica.com
Digital Book World . . . . . . . . . digitalbookworld.com/conference
DIY Book Festival, Los Angeles . . . . . . . . . diyconvention.com
idpf Digital Book (held annually prior to BEA) . . . . . . . . . idpf.org
Tools of Change for Publishing Conference . . . . . . . . . toccon.com
Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS). . . . . . . . . arlisna.org/news/calendar.html
Atlanta Celebrates Photography – Photobook Fair . . . . . . . . . acpinfo.org/programs/photo_book_fair.shtml
Art Book Fair Basel “I never read” . . . . . . . .ineverread.com
C/O Berlin Bookdays. . . . . . . . . co-berlin.info
Editions/Artists’ Books Fair. . . . . . . . . eabfair.com
European Publishers Award for Photography . . . . . . . . . dewilewispublishing.com/EUROAWARD/EUROAWARD2013.html
Festival of Light . . . . . . . . . festivaloflight.net
Frankfurt Book Fair . . . . . . . . . buchmesse.de/en/fbf/registration/index.html
International Photobook Festival, Kassel, Germany. . . . . . . . . fotobookfestival.org
Fotobuch-tage, Photobook Days, Hamburg, Germany . . . . . . . . . fotobuch-tage.de
Dusseldorf Photobook Salon. . . . . . . . . facebook.com/events/287010581419053/
Independent Photography Festival . . . . . . . . . 2012.independentphotographyfestival.com
Independent Publishers and Artzine Fair. . . . . . . . . kunsthallewien.at
The Independent and Small Press Book Fair . . . . . . . . . nycip.wordpress.com/about
The Kasseler Photobook-Festival . . . . . . . . . kasselerfotoforum.de
LA Art Book Fair . . . . . . . . . laartbookfair.net/about
London Art Book Fair . . . . . . . . . whitechapelgallery.org/book-fair
London Book Festival. . . . . . . . . londonbookfestival.com
Los Angeles Times Book Prizes . . . . . . . . . events.latimes.com/bookprizes/overview
The New York Photo Festival Awards . . . . . . . . . nyphotofestival.com
The NY Art Book Fair . . . . . . . . . nyartbookfair.com
Offprint Paris – Art Publishing Fair . . . . . . . . . offprintparis.com
Photo Ireland – Books & Magazine Fair . . . . . . . . . photoireland.org
The Rencontres d’Arles . . . . . . . . . rencontres-arles.com
Tokyo Art Book Fair . . . . . . . . . zinesmate.org/lang/en/the-tokyo-art-book-fair
Vienna Photobook Festival . . . . . . . . . www.viennaphotobookfestival.com/
“photo-eye is happy to present our Best Books of 2012. This is the time of year when nearly every publication comes out with at least one year-end list. Some people love them, some hate them, and their value is nearly always up for debate, yet they seem irresistibly interesting. What we strive for with our list is a little different from most, and this year we thought we’d clarify our process.” Click here to read the full article and to see the extensive list of books.
Pyramid Atlantic Book Fair
Friday-Sunday, November 16-18, 2012
“Pyramid Atlantic Art Center presents the 12th Biennial Book Arts Fair and Conference, the preeminent book arts event on the east coast. Now in its third decade, the fair will showcase a dynamic array of innovative book art, limited edition prints, fine papers, and specialty tools along with a rich program of notable speakers, demonstrations, and special exhibitions. This three day event will connect international artists, scholars, collectors, publishers, and art lovers. Serving to inform and inspire, the Book Arts Fair and Conference is a celebration of the printed form and the book as art.”
1 Day Conference: $30 | Student/Senior/Pyramid Members: $25
1 Day Book Arts Fair: $10 | Pyramid Atlantic Members: Free”
Silver Spring Civic Center
One Veterans Place
Silver Spring, Maryland [map]
The daily photography news journal, Le Journal de la Photographie, dedicated Wednesday, September 19, 2012 to the best photo books of the season. To see the selection of books and read more about them click here.
In summary, these are the books they mention:
Mark Shaw The Kennedy’s
Doug Rickard A New American Picture
Dennis Hopper The Lost Album
Carl de Keyser Moments Before the Flood
Thierry Boccon-Gibod Michel Berger
Annd Golaz Metsästä
David Drebin Beautiful Disasters
Sergei Mikhailovich Nostalgia
Brian Finke Master Photographers
Alec Soth Looking for Love, 1996
The Birth of Photography: Gernsheim’s Collection
Wendy Paton Visages de Nuit
San Francisco, Jazz 2012
Ken Schles Oculus
Jim Lee Arrested
Steve Schapiro Then and Now
A final jury in Paris, including Els Barents, Director of the Huis Marseille Museum of Photography; Roxana Marcoci, Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Curator of the Paris Photo 2012 Platform; Edward Robinson, LACMA associate curator of photography; Thomas Seelig, Curator of the Fotomuseum Winterthur, will select the winners for both prizes, which will be revealed at the opening of Paris Photo on November 14, 2012.
A $10,000 prize will be awarded to the photographer/artist* whose first photobook is deemed by an independent jury to be best of the year.
Criteria for Eligibility
- A book in which the dominant content is photography, produced in physical form, and distributed either for purchase or free of charge.
- A book which is the first by the given photographer/artist is eligible for entry, whether a first self-published book, a first limited-edition book, a first gallery-published collection, a first book made available by print-on-demand, or a first book published by a publisher for release in the book trade. A first book published by an established publisher is eligible for entry even if the photographer/artist previously released a self-published book or a limited-edition book for distribution outside the trade. However, once a photographer/artist has had a book published by a mainstream publisher in the book trade, a subsequent book (whether self-published or not) is not eligible for entry.
- May be released by a publisher (in a trade or limited edition) or self-published.
- First books eligible for entry include those produced via print-on-demand.
- A book released by a publisher is eligible if it is the first trade book by the given photographer/artist, even if an earlier limited-edition or self published book has previously been made available by that artist/photographer.
- Books must be produced or published between September 1, 2011, and September 8, 2012. Books produced before September 8, 2012, but not due for release or publication until a later date in 2012, are also eligible.
PhotoBook of the Year
The PhotoBook of the Year Prize will be awarded to the photographer/artist*, and publisher responsible, whose book is deemed by an independent jury to be the best of the year.
Criteria for Eligibility
- A book in which the dominant content is photography, produced in physical form, and published in an edition of no less than one hundred copies.
- Books must be produced or published between September 1, 2011, and September 8, 2012. Books produced before September 8, 2012, but not due for release or publication until a later date in 2012, are also eligible for entry.
*Books by or featuring the work of more than one photographer/artist are eligible in both categories.
First PhotoBook: $30 per book
PhotoBook of the Year: $60 for first entry from a given publisher, $30 for each subsequent entry from the same publisher”
This past fall, Gemma Padley interviewed co-authors Mary Virginia Swanson and Darius Himes about “Publish your Photography Book” for an article in the UK based magazine “Amateur Photographer.” The article was published in the November 26, 2011 magazine. You can read the article she wrote here (downloads as PDF).
“Publish Your Photography Book” has been featured in the Wall Street Journal’s Gift Guide under photography books. You can see the article and other recommended photography books here. Thanks, WSJ!
“Open to all photographers who have an interest in photo books and the process of self-publishing. Held in celebration of the Indie Photobook Library, a selection of which is on display at the PRC this month.
Neal Rantoul is a career artist and teacher. He has taught photography since 1971. He is currently head of the Photography Program at Northeastern University and taught for thirteen years at Harvard University as well as at the New England School of Photography. Rantoul is member of the Board of Directors of the PRC.”
832 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts [map]