Assignment 4 – Main Project Isolation Parts 3 and 4

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Isolated with Light Part 3 and 4

Isolated with Light Part 3 and 4  of the main project represent 18 months of practical work that focuses on a stylized approach to the subject of isolation, and builds on the work covered in part 1 and 2 of the main project.

The key deliverable is a photo-book on the theme of ‘Isolated with Light.

The purpose of this document is:-

  • To study the development, success and application of the photo-book as a means of selling and presenting photographic works.
  • To study the production, design and layout options for my own photo-book in order to create a compelling document.
  • To examine the use of the diptych layout as a way of enhancing the viewer experience and making the photo-book more compelling and engaging.
  • To personally review my photographs as a large body of works, in order to assess my style, the photographs emotive qualities and to help me select a smaller group for further enhancement in part 5 & 6 of my main project.
  • To allow my work to be ‘peer reviewed’ in an easy to view format
  • To assess the print quality and the production options for a relatively low cost photo-book, and how these could be improved.

Note that part 3 and 4 do not analyze the submitted photographs or select candidates for the final submission – this will be done in a subsequent submission.

This document is structured so that it explores the role of the photo-book in photography, before describing my personal approach to producing a photo-book on ‘Isolated with Light’.

A hard copy version is supplied as part of this submission but an electronic version is also available

A digital copy of the photo-book can be found using the following link :-


Key finding and Conclusions

This section summarizes the main findings of both the photo-book study and the creation of my own photo-book based called ‘Isolated with Light’.

The Photo-book Study.

The photo-book has been a constant companion for the photographer since 1844 but it is a subject that has only recently become an area of detailed study thanks in part to the publications of the Photobook History volumes I II III by Mathew Parr, and the interest of collectors and scholars. (PARR, Martin and Badger, Gerry, 2004. 2006, 2014)

The photo-book has always been used to promote and help sell the photographer works, but also to earn revenue for their publishers. The economics of the photo-book were originally driven by the printing costs/technology, the status of the photographer, and the salability of the subject matter. This meant that the print runs were high, the photographer needed to well recognized and ‘saleable’ and the project needed to be financed and supported by specialist printers. This has all changed in the last 20 years with the technological advances in printing, the internet and the availability of digital cameras to the general population. The has meant that photo-book can now be self published by almost anyone and at a reasonable cost. This is leading to innovative and creative ways of producing, financing and selling photo-books which will continue to accelerate with the arrival of the eBook, since these are capable of incorporating videos, and internet links as well as photographs and text.

Conversely, accessing, buying and referencing the older photo-books has become a lot more difficult with specialist collectors buying up old copies at high prices, and public libraries failing to stock them. However, they are becoming more popular in photographic exhibitions but only behind glass and with either the cover or one page on displayed. Unfortunately this inability to view may mean that the ‘worth’ of historical and iconic photo-books will be judge by their market value and rarity rather then by their photographic merit.

My Photo-book – Isolated with Light.

The process of creating a photo-book on a specific subject requires a considerable amount of discipline and thought- especially if it is to be peer reviewed by other photographers. Selecting the right style and format for the photo-book design is a critical part of the process. I therefore spent a lot of time researching several styles from my collection before adopting the diptych style used by Ralph Gibson.

The diptych style provides a useful framework for both selecting and ordering work as well as providing an additional point of interest for the viewer – although this did mean that some high quality images failed to be publish as they did not meet the diptych criteria. My aim was to produce a successful diptych arrangement that created an additional visual overtone when the two pictures are seen together. However since this additional visual overtone layer is subjective, it is quite difficult to predict if I had been successful prior to printing and peer reviewing.

The advances in digital publication has meant that there are plenty of options for self publishing photo-books with a range of styles, prices and formats. This requires an additional investigative process to find a self publishing service that will print your photo-book in the style and quality you want but within a defined budget. Getting this even slightly wrong, (as I did), can reduce the impact of the finished product. The two key lessons I learnt was that a black and white photo-book needs to be produced by printers who are specialist in this type of printing in order to avoid unwanted colour toning, and that ‘less’ is often more when it comes to the number of images that you have in a photo-book!

These ‘flaws’ are relatively easy to correct with additional time, money and research, but the photo-book in its present form has met the objective of this part of the main project – Its adequately reflects the work that I have done on the subject of Isolated with Light and is of a suitable quality, (with known flaws), to be peer reviewed.

Finally the economics of producing a photo-book as a commercial venture are still not cost effective. The cost of a self publishing photo-book was around £35.00, (which included a 70% discount), but it took in excess of 40 hours of creative effort to compile, stylize, and check. However, the model that does seem to work is to produce a fixed layout EPUB document and publish/sell this on iBooks and Google Play with the option for people to buy prints direct from you. I have been investigating this approach, and have a just produced a charity ebook called ‘London Views for Marathon Shoes’ –  However the subject matter is not linked to this course.

My general conclusion from this part of my main project is that my photo-book was very successful in terms of the photographs and the theme of Isolated with light. I have more then enough material to complete the last parts of the main project which involves selecting a small set of images for submission and then improving the photographs, printing and presenting them.





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At a practical level, a good photograph is more about being in the right place at the right time and knowing what to take then the type of camera, skill and technique. My ambition is to show how anyone with a camera can produce great photographs when they visit London.

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