Using HP Indigo presses and HP Scitex FB500 flatbed printer, the A&I Studios photo lab in Hollywood is helping photographers become independent publishers of photo books and create new forms of art by printing images directly onto glass, metal, copper, acrylic substrates.
At the PMA Show in Las Vegas I participated in the launch of my new photo book The Joy of Discovery. The book shows a collection of my images in a way that conveys some of the joy I have experienced in discovering new things and sharing them with others.
Producing the book was full of surprises. For example, it was joyful to discover just how far digital bookmaking technology has come. When I saw the printed book it was love at first sight! The book was produced on an HP Indigo WS6000 Digital Press in what is called “lay flat” format. When the book is opened, each pair of pages looks seamless, with very little evidence of the binding or “gutter” in the center.
In my view, the color produced by the Indigo press is unbeatable. The pages were printed back-to-back on sheets of a heavyweight paper which were then made more rigid and glossy through the use of a high-quality laminating film. The laminating film helps keep the pages from becoming torn or damaged during repeated viewing. Even though it has only 24 pages, it feels thick and substantial.
When I opened the book for the first time, it seemed as if I were viewing my own photography for the first time. That’s because I was seeing a cohesive body of work, rather than individual images.
When I showed the book to others (some from the U.S. and quite a few people from other countries), their reactions were gratifying. There was an intensity of connection to the images that I hadn’t seen before. When I show one image at a time, I often feel as though I’m in a pass/fail situation. Many viewers are reserved in their comments. Some will simply say, “Oh, that’s nice” when they see an image they like. However, when viewing a book and seeing a stream of images and ideas, the focus shifts from judging the relative quality of each individual image to asking “How are they all connected?”
Some of the credit for eliciting these favorable reactions belongs to the editors and designers who helped me produce this book. As I explained in my previous post, Eight Things I Learned from Producing a Photo Book, the designer and editor helped me become more objective about my work and provided great advice with regards to image selection and sequencing. They did an excellent job of weaving the images into a flowing, comprehensible story. They seemed to be tuned into my style as a photographer.
Seeing my images published in a book has created a new sense of how I have participated in the process of photography over a period of time. And, the experience has opened new doors in my imagination. Now, when I pick up my camera to make a photograph, I find myself thinking: “How might this image look next to another image I have in my archives?”
Until now, I hadn’t really understood the surge of interest among photographers in bookmaking. I do now! I’m already planning the next one.