photo book

Self Publish Or Bust

Rick Smolan has a bunch of good tips on self-publishing your next photo book.

It’s a bit crowdfunding heavy, but has advice from a guy who has done a lot of photo publishing. I appreciate that Smolan’s first tip is on audience:

The traditional publishing model was to turn to a big publisher who would throw it into book stores and hope the book found an audience. Now photographers are able to market directly to the people who are already invested in your chosen subject.

I don’t start a photo book project unless I have an audience in mind. And because I’m seriously considering a Kickstarter campaign, I’ll take all the good tips I can.

(via Blurb on Twitter.)

Keep the Story Going

Family Photo Book

It’s that time of year again – time to get our annual photo book featuring pictures from 2016.

Making a family photo book is one of my favorite yearly rituals. Each holiday season, I gather up the photos from the year and assemble them into an album, usually 8″ x 10″ and 20-40 pages. The cover image is always something from our summer vacation.

This year, I went with a Blurb book instead of Apple’s Aperture/Photos options. Here’s a tip: Follow Blurb on Twitter to get periodic discount codes. At 35% off, my photo book was a good deal.

Keep your story going long after you pass away, or your hard drive dies: print your photos. Make a book of your photos. You’ll be glad you did.

Mark Marchesi, ‘Evangeline’

Evangeline, by Mark Marchesi

Over the holiday break, I used a (much appreciated) gift card to pick up Mark Marchesi’s photo book, Evangeline, based on his Acadia photo project.

This is my kind of photo project: about space, and history, featuring a tragic backstory. The photos of abandoned Victorian homes, and the tidewater landscapes – all with the background of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem.

It’s a beautiful book, with a soft fabric cover and lovely essay. And, because Marchesi’s project ran as a Kickstarter project, it has me thinking more and more about running my own crowdfunding campaign.

Pick up a copy at Daylight Books.

‘Color Correction’ by Ernst Haas

Early color photograph holds a special place in my heart. The pioneers, like William Eggleston and Joel Meyerowitz, showed that color photography could be used for more than advertising and editorial work, especially when taken out on the street.

But even before those two guys, and their comrades like Stephen Shore and Alex Webb, photographers in the 1950s were blazing a vibrant trail.

Ernst Haas was one of these trailblazers, exploring streets and urban scenes in the ’50s, and making his living as a Magnum photographer. A reissued book of Haas’s photography, Color Correction, is out from Steidl, and it’s a great overview of Haas’s personal work.

Haas sits in the same photography family as early color photographers like Saul Leiter. You get the sense that color, light, and abstraction were all tools Haas (and Leiter) used to express his personal vision.

It’s Haas’s use of light and shadow that really gets me excited. That low-key work, combined with the vibrant colors, is what attracted me to Haas in the first place.

Color Correction is an affordable look into that midcentury color photography that’s timeless and continually satisfying.

Todd Hido on Books

Putting together a photo book.

Lots of good stuff from photographer Todd Hido in this interview, but he drops some truth on photo books:

A book is an enclosed and encapsulated medium that you can actually come pretty damn close to perfecting. I also tend to think that the book is sometimes more important than the show, as the exhibit is a temporary thing, often hanging for a month or six weeks and then it goes away.

Maybe a couple of thousand people see it?

But a book is something that I always say is on your “permanent record” and it never ever goes away—so you better get it right!

He also highlights the importance of playing around with the physical layout of a photo book:

As far as putting together the books, I spend hundred & hundreds of hours shuffling around my photographs, making dummies, turning pages, and switching them around and all that. To me that is really the only way to do it, to print the pictures out, paste them in a physical blank book dummy, and turn the pages.

For my Artists In Jackson book, I didn’t quite know what the layout was going to look like. So I printed a bunch of horizontal and portrait-shaped squares, taped them to pages, and moved them around to see how the look and flow would go. It was super helpful to see the book take shape, even if only in the abstract.

It also helps to give it to someone you trust, and ask, “What do you think?”

Why You Need to Publish a Photo Book


If I had one wish for photography right now, it would be for talented photographers to publish more books.

Publish 5 or 1000 copies, but get it out there. Share what you’ve learned, even if the lessons you have to teach are lessons we’ve already learned. If they’re valuable, we need to hear them again and again.

Too often photographers consider their end product to be framed prints or one-off Instagram posts.

What would change about your photography style if you were forced to think in terms of a creating books? It would force you to think as a storyteller. That’s the greatest skill a photographer can cultivate.

Two thoughts.

One is that making a book is not easy. Although there are tons of companies out there who will help you make a photo book (and at a decent price), it’s still a project. There’s editing, and organization, and thematic thinking, and quality control.

And two, it’s so much fun, and such a great expansion of an already-fun hobby. Making a photo book will be one of the highlights of my creative life. In fact, it’s kind of addicting, because now I want to make all kinds of books. I’ve already got one baking in the oven.

Artists In Jackson, The Book

For the past five or six months, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the artists, creatives, and makers in Jackson, Michigan, as a part of my Artists In Jackson project.

The culmination of the project, I always figured, would be a book. Photos and profiles of the artists, an explanation of the project, and a beautiful artifact of all the work I’ve done.

I love photo books. I’ve become a bit of a collector in the past year or so. That, and (as @alesserphotographer advocates) paper is what you keep for 100 years and give to your grandchildren.

So the Artists In Jackson book is now available for sale. I couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out.

This first run of copies (about 25) are going to get some special love and attention from me before they ship out. After that, I’m doing a buy-on-demand system from Blurb, the book publisher.

Also, the project’s artist profiles are now live on the website, along with a selection of photos from each artist’s portrait shoot.

It feels mighty good to have this project out the door and into the world. I’ve received lots of great feedback from family and friends, and lots of support from the community. Thanks to everyone for their time and attention.

I made something. It shipped. And away we go.