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Thursday, 07 December 2017


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Thank you Mike for the call out on Colberg's books. I have made several books of my travel photos using Blurb and purchased his book (through this site!) with an eye to future books presenting future travels. I also purchased his book using his site where the price was almost $10.00 cheaper than Amazon and included free shipping. George

Mike, for years my small business supplied publishers with art of graphic nature, many of which were based on a authors PowerPoint diagrams that were originally done as a classroom presentation.
It almost always was a problem fitting the repurposed art into a 33 or 27 pica text width. At no time was the designer in the position to determine a books trim size. That was the responsibility of the manufacturing department.
I wonder if it's really a design issue with poorly represented and sized photos in the books discussed in your post. I tend to think it's more about book size and shelf space, plus paper costs and selling price. Design takes a back seat to these other 'dollars and cents issues'.

In this interview Gruyaert talks about the East/West book.

Don't always agree, but always worth reading. Most recently enjoyed "Annie Leibovitz’s Capitalist Realism."

That looks like a good resource, and I'm happy you've pointed me to his blog.

OTOH, I imagine a book like that, in the hands of some, would be an excuse not to go ahead and make a book - reading, pondering, considering, when just moving ahead may be the thing to do.

I would suggest to anyone who is thinking about making a book just do it. It's easy and relatively inexpensive to make a book with any of several on-line resources.

Then, if it seems desirable, after considering the result and getting the responses of others, dive into a book about making books with an idea of what works and what doesn't in what you have done.

In his review of Adornment, Colberg says "You’d imagine it must be pretty simple to make a good photobook if you have no narrative to contend with, but that’s not true. It’s just as hard."

And yet, maybe you'll be lucky! I made a book as a response to an attractive promotional offer. I had a group of photos I would like together, so I tried it.

Colberg says ". . . even in the absence of narrative the edit and sequence matter. The challenges of putting the pictures together are just as big, if not bigger."

Well, I messed up one pair of facing images and the placement of another relative to the gutter. The publisher made a mistake in the last photo, so I got a free re-do. Other than that brief stumble, it was a great success.

I've made six books since. Based a little on my own satisfaction and more on the reactions of family, friends and the occasional stranger, it appears I have a previously unknown talent for ordering images. One eleoquent friend, whose own first (prose) book has just been published calls my picture books Meditations.

"I derive equal enjoyment from seeing what you could call a collection of individual pictures that somehow speak of something larger, but that mostly remain there. There is, after all, a lot to be said for that kind of photography."

Has anyone learned to paint by reading a book, without exercises? This is Art. Try it if it calls, and find out what you have hidden away. If this isn't your metier, at least you haven't read a tome about it. \;^)>

Thank you for calling out Jörg Colberg's book, Mike. It’s news to me. I admit to not having been an enthusiastic fan of Colberg's thoughts on his monologue blog. But I must simultaneously admit to reading them only very occasionally.

That aside, I slow-applaud his diligent persistence at enlivening and describing the photo book genre. It can only be good for the medium.

What I want to know is why are all the letters in the title WEST back to front, apart from the S?


Disclaimer: I have bought Colberg's book but haven't read it yet. But I "know" him, being a long-time reader of his blog (the one with the stupid name).

My thoughts for the moment are more in line with what Andrew Molitor wrote some time ago, reviewing the same book:




Colberg's elitist view of photography and photobooks and his random appreciations for ugly artsy stuff does not appeal to me. On the other hand (and Mike, you should check him out if havent't done so already) we have Daniel Milnor who's not an artist, but loves photography, and advocates the use of self-publishing books just to get stuff out, and out of your mind, without committing absurd amount of money to the project (or should I write "Project"?).

Check these blog posts for example:



and this is a must read (together with all the other posts on his Essay series), inspirational for whoever thinks he *needs* a designer, a layout guy, professional advice like Colberg suggests:


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