Photo books have always been a great way to present your photography, writes Wayne Cosshall. Now, with the advent of high-quality print-on-demand printing, the greater use of full-color e-readers, and new options for self-publishing full-color e-books, your options for producing photo books are greater than ever.
Whether you have already published a photography book, or plan to do so soon, one expert who can help you is Darius Himes. Together with Mary Virginia Swanson, he co-authored an excellent new guidebook entitled “Publish Your Photography Book.” Darius is also the lead judge of the 2011 Photography Book Now competition presented by Blurb to celebrate the best in self-published books. Here, we talk with him about the book, the future of photography books, and the Photography Book Now contest, for which HP is sponsoring the $25,000 grand prize.
Wedding and portrait photographers can attract new clients and set themselves apart by producing distinctively designed photo books.One HP customer that can help is Couture Book. Founded by professional photographer Phyllis Lane and entrepreneur Rodrigo Coelho, Couture Book specializes in hand-crafted and custom-made photo books. Each book is a distinctive work of art that combines 100 or more digitally printed pages of your most beautiful images with exquisite hand-made, hand-bound covers. In this interview, Rodrigo Coelho talks about some of the many ways a well-designed book can help differentiate your photography business.
Photo books are a growing and truly amazing area of printing. And, you can go well beyond a straight photo book.
The popularity of my previous post on photo books indicates that there is considerable interest in photo books as alternatives to the straight print. I am in the process of testing a number of the photo book producers and will have more to report on that in a few months time.
One thing many photographers miss from the darkroom days is the hand-crafting of images that working in Photoshop and making digital prints may not always provide. At first glance, photo books would seem to have similar issues because the books are typically printed by some faraway company and delivered by courier. Yet this would be missing some huge potential.
If you look at the rise of the scrapbooking movement in recent times you can see glimmers of a solution for photographers who crave a more hands-on approach to printing. Scrapbookers use photographic prints, some printed by a retail store, some printed on at-home inkjet printers. But scrapbookers don’t stop with a basic print. They will avidly explore alternative papers, transparent and translucent films, canvas, fabric and any surface they can get a print onto, either directly by feeding it through their printer or indirectly by using transfer techniques. Even then this sometimes isn’t enough. So, they then glue, sew, staple, or otherwise affix other things over the tops of the prints to make collages.
It is time photographers stopped thinking of the photo book like a single image and considered adopting many of the techniques scrapbookers use. Imagine designing a photo book that takes into account what you will add by hand later.
You get the book printed and have it delivered to your home or studio. Now, rather than regarding this as the end of the process, you view it as the beginning. You add all sorts of things to the photo book that fit with the photographic content and your vision of how you want the final book to look. So you may print some additional images on clear film or translucent paper and glue these into the book. Some pages you enhance with hand-drawn or painted designs in ink or acrylic paint. Other inserted pages may have found objects, such as bus or train tickets, leaves, or discarded wrappers glued to sheets of product wrapping, cardboard, or thin metal (which you might have printed on after applying an inkjet-receptive coating).
Covers can be enhanced in all these ways and more. For example, you can even hand-cover your photo book with leather or tin sheets that have been embossed or engraved.
My point is: Just as a photographic print can either be a final product or simply a starting point for your creative journey, so, too, can be a photo book.
Sure you must make sure that the thickness of the things you glue inside the book won’t interfere with the binding, but there are ways around this if you think outside the box. And speaking of boxes, why not build a stunning, custom box to hold the finished book? You may need to experiment with glues and such, but this itself can be fun and interesting (plus you can learn a lot from books on scrapbooking).
There was a time when the absolute flawless perfection of the digital print was a wonderful thing. Now that the novelty has worn off, we can get back to giving each print the unique and individual marks of the hands of the artist, making no two alike. And this can apply to the photo book just as easily as to the print.
So stop viewing the print or the photo book as the end result, and try seeing it as the starting off point for a great voyage of creativity and fun. For those of us who spend a lot of time at the computer, getting your fingers covered in glue for a change can not only be very creative and liberating, but also very therapeutic and healing. Give it a go, I know I am.
I recommend trying something new: Print a collection of your images in a photo book.
Not only will it help you look at your images in a whole new way, but it’s also a concept with great commercial possibilities.
Multiple Choices in Book Services
Many services are now available to create beautifully produced books of your photography either as single copies or very small volumes.
Some of the best-known photo-book printers for the mass market include:
· Apple iPhoto
With these sites, you either download free software, use a web interface, or use your own software to design the books. Some sites even allow you sell your book online.
But these four sites represent just a fraction of the many companies that will produce books for you. Boutique book-publishing companies, such as Artefact Studio and Couture Book specialize in producing books for photography professionals and clients who want higher-end design.
All of these photo-book printers differ greatly not only in the cost and sizes of books they offer, but also in terms of how much flexibility they offer in terms of designing your book and how many choices they provide in terms of papers and cover materials.
So far, I have created three photo books, using the Apple Aperture program linked into Apple’s own book-printing service. This software not only gave me total control over the book design but also enabled me to edit the images as I integrated the into the book design. Other systems may involve doing your image-editing work in Photoshop before you lay out the book.
Will books replace albums?
Photo books are being marketed to consumers as a replacement for the photo album. This is a compelling argument. By the time you buy a nice album, get prints done and spend the time putting an album together, the cost can be similar to (even without labor) the price of a photo book. Plus, a photo book is typically better looking than an album and more compact, meaning it takes up less space on a bookshelf.
Having done three books (two for family reasons, and one for professional reasons), I can report that you are also likely to get a much different and more enthusiastic reaction to the books than to photo albums.
How Professionals Can Use Photo Books
Commercially there are many compelling reasons for professional photographers to make photo books. A photo book makes a great portfolio and one that is easily replaced if it gets lost or damaged. The smaller books can make great promotional items.
And if you’re in the wedding or portrait photography business, it can be far more impressive to have a selection of photo books in your waiting room instead of a selection of magazines.
Blurb.com allows you to sell your photo books from their site. With other companies, you can print copies of your book as needed after you receive orders through your own website, at events, or through online book sellers such as Amazon.
Printing small quantities as needed allows you to minimize storage and upfront costs, and even allows you to add new images to your layout before you print the next copy.
A Book Changes The Way You See Your Work
Perhaps the most compelling reason to put together photo books is your own relationship with your images. Images look different in print than they do on a screen.
And, a book is a collection of images, like an exhibition. This is important. One image by itself is one thing. When you start considering your images in a collection, you start seeing more in your images.
Is there a narrative that runs through the work? Are there biographical or autobiographical references? Are they truly one collection or are they better viewed as sub-collections within a whole? How does the meaning of an image change with the images you put around it, on the previous page or on the next? How strong is the whole collection? From just these few questions, you can begin to see that the process of creating a collection of images can be quite complex and yet rewarding.
Collections of images tend to bring out new meaning in your work. They tend to expose more about the thinking of the photographer. The book will also be quite dependent on the strength of each image.
This is why major art institutions allow curators to put together exhibitions of art works by an artist or group of artists even though the works have been seen before. In new groupings, orders and juxtapositions, we can uncover new meanings, new interpretations and new personal relevance. The curatorial process is a valid and valuable one, and can even shed new light on the work for the artists themselves.
When you put together a photo book of your own images you are being your own curator. The process will force you to examine your images in a different light. Which image do I include? What order should they be in? Do I need text to support and enhance and, if so, what text? What size or sizes should the book be and how should it be put together to add to the images?
Doing photo books opens up a whole new dimension to your photography, whether you are a professional, amateur or artistic. If you haven’t tried it already, give it a go. Then, let me know what you think!