This post looks at approach I took when creating my photobook and my assessment of it
A digital copy of the ebook can be found using the following link :-
Producing the Photo-book on Isolated with Light
The criteria for the photo-books was that it had to be based on a clear theme and have a coherent structure style and design. It also needed to reflect the work I had been doing on the subject of isolation for the past 15-18 months.
The objective of the photo-book was to produce something where a wider body of my work could be reviewed and assessed rather then as a book for sale. It therefore needed to be inexpensive and relatively easy to get produced commercially.
My theme was ‘Isolated with Light’ with photographs generally taken in a high contrast style developed over the course of the previous assignment. I wanted to experiment with the diptych layouts as a way of providing interest to the viewer and to see if I could create the visual overtones that Ralf Gibson was so successful in achieving.
The main options that I considered were ‘self publishing’ commercial internet sites such as Photobox and Blurb, and the semi professional self publishing site that deal with specialist printing and binding of books. The commercial options were quite similar in price and service with Blurb working out slightly more expensive then Photobox. These semi professional options provided more options in terms of cover design and sizes but were at least 5 times the cost of the commercial self publishing options.
The service offered by Blurb appeared to be the best standard for self publishing and was widely used by photographers, however Photobox came a close second. Photobox also had a very reasonable offer for a 100 page photo-book and they had a reputation good on colour quality – so that was the option that I went for- regrettably.
Diptych and Sequencing
Since I had spent the last 18 months developing a personal style and establishing my theme on isolation, I had been able to acquired a good selection of images that covered a fairly wide selection of subjects and themes. The discipline of the diptych provided a good focus for selecting relevant pairings of images but it also meant that a number of very good images had to be left out of the photo-book and conversely some weaker ones added.
Photobox were reasonably flexible with the design layout and I customised the design so that there was one image per page with options for different colour background. This allowed me to experiment with both a black and a white background and to vary the size and position of the image on the page. This process took up a great deal of time with many hours spent adjusting, changing or post processing images. One of the more difficult decision was ‘what to add in terms of text’ and in establishing how to make it informative without being distracting – in the end I chose the minimalist subdued approach.
In conclusion, I found that producing a photo-book that would be suitable for peer reviewed was a difficult and long drawn out process . Whist the computer helped in the collation of the book, it didn’t help in the visualisation and sequencing of the pictures. I later found out that there was a big difference in seeing the layout and sequence on the screen to seeing and handling the physical printed version of a photo-book.
Post production Assessment
In many ways the production of the photo-book was a great success and has it been well received to date.
It successfully showed a wide range of my work which reflected my overall theme of ‘Isolate with Light’, and it did demonstrate coherence of style, design and intention especially with the use of the diptych. It was also quite a low cost solution – about ½ the cost of Blurb equivalent.
I even wrote to Ralph Gibson the photographer to as for his comments, and sent him a link to the photo-book.
This was his reply :-
Your book has some strong parings…you are definitely into the idea of visual overtones and in the more successful spreads a lot gets said in that beautiful silent visual way.
Thanks and best ,
However he didn’t see the printed version that came through the post which had some slight printing problems. The key issue was that the book was printed using a colour printer and so many of black and white images had a very slight green colour toning which became a distraction when viewing the book as I found myself looking for faults with the printing and not focusing on the image.
Although most of the images and diptychs worked well, there were a few images that were not quite strong enough or were slightly out in terms of style. These were not really noticeable on a two page spread but they did jump out when you flicked through the hardcopy of the book. Reducing the images to 80 would have solved this problem.
However, the scope of part 3 and 4 stop at the production of the photo-book and do not examine the photographs in detail – this will be covered in parts 5 and 6.