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Sunday, 05 August 2018


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Do this, please.

I like free stuff, haha.

But seriously, I'm a semi-retired hobbyist and reading TOP daily has become an essential part of that. A book would be sweet, bust it out!

It's your project to do or not do, but IMO it would be easier, faster, and probably more profitable to do a compilation of "the best of TOP." You'd be doing more editing than writing and the odds of completion would be in your favor. This is not to imply that I have no interest in the project you described; I just think you should go for the "low-hanging fruit" before you start climbing the tree.

Thank goodness, Mike. *This* is the kind of book you were born to write. Looking forward to whatever comes of this!

I recommend Kindle and ePub formats over PDF, they are much more readable on smaller screens.

Good luck.

Seems like "John's" advice is on the mark (it should be- he cranks out thrillers like Stephen King, an incredible pace). Write about what you know, you have an incredibly wide knowledge of and about photography.

Sounds better than okay.

What John Camp said.

I'm looking forward to it already!

I can't wait! And though I'm a Patreoner, I'd be happy to pay for it.

Where is the "Like" button? :-)


May you continue to have the love of your son, write amazing, inspiring, funny columns for all of us to enjoy and make great doggie treats for butters to consume.


Excellent news Mike, go with your strength and you won't lose. Your strength is of course photography.

I would add that you have a particular brilliance in bringing other photographers together and getting them talking with you. Any way of involving that talent in your plans? A bit of interviewing of famous current and recently active photographers? That includes any photographer who is still alive of course and found success at a noticeable level at some point. Might allow for musings about what success is in photography, and not just the old Sic Transit Gloria routine. Amazing eye? Ineffably brilliant camera and processing/darkroom skills? Skill at making scintillating interpersonal connections with portrait subjects soon after meeting them, leading to great results? Talent at being where history happens with a camera in your hand during the split seconds when it happens? A knack for being indispensable that makes others want you to be on their team, and that team happens to do photography? Many different success styles in photography and you have likely seen and known many of them, while experiencing a few yourself.

Best of luck with this new project.

Jeff Clevenger

I strongly second Gordon’s recommendation to compile a Best of TOP book first. It plays to your strength and your public.

As a humble member of the P group, I do not think we want a free PDF. Just let us have a chance to buy more - a signed book plus some signed print sell if there are some key photographs involved etc.

BTW, I think it is a sign. I moved apartment and found your book ... in fact I finally aware that it is NOT Emperorical Photographer ... bad English, non-native speaker you know.

I'm with John Camp on this one, Mike. For heaven's sake write about photography. It's easy for you!

At the moment, however, you have severe bookitis which is a dreadful affliction. You think you must produce a *book* and all of a sudden everything that normally seems easy, "Look at this interesting lens!" becomes pregnant with threat, meaning, and hopes of praise for your insight and writing chops. That is an iron-clad recipe for driving you to decide to clean the backyard, basement, and the neighbor's field, every thistle, instead.

Many decades ago, in college, I had terrible writers block. It was so bad I failed courses, would spend an all-nighter for a 10-page paper and produce two, and it went on throughout college until . . . in my senior year I directed a play for my senior project (I was a theatre major) and they required a written summary of the project. I loved theater and loved directing so over the course of the four months it took to produce the show I would sit down every night after the hurly burly of the day and note down my thoughts. The show was a success but to my amazement I discovered that I had written a 120-page journal of the production. Not only that, it was good: pungent, insightful, poetic, engaging. Who the hell wrote that?

A decade or so after that I was working for a big trade book publisher as a typographer and editor and it is there I discovered that even good authors can have ms covered in red. That ended the last vestiges of the writers block thang though I still tend to write terse prose rather the Dickensian model.

Get my drift?


As a publishing editor I've been cajoling authors for decades. However much I dislike corporate slogans, Nike got this one right: 'Just do it'.

Once you get some kind of draft down, the path gets easier.

In the days of typewriters, when redrafting meant days of repetitive strain syndrome, I would have said something different. But not now.

Having bought both your Lulu books years ago, I'd like another real paper book please.
I'll take a PDF, but really, paper book, please, please, please........

> one day the hard drive will just fail and then where will all the stories be?

Um, on your cloud back-up. I mean, they will, won't they...?

FWIW, I think "collections" of past articles take you nowhere fast: you've already done 'em - you need new to keep your own interest alive...

Anyone really interested already has this site to consult; why rewrite it?

I used to have the occasional idea of writing a fiction about fashion photography - something I knew a lot about - but came to the conclusion that for it to be interesting, it had either to be a veiled autobiography or a dumb fantasy to suit the average conception of what's involved in the business. In the end, inertia aside, I concluded it was more fun going about a normal daily life, leaving the office and computer to easy entertainment rather than pointless soul-searching and living the life of the mythical hermit.

What Gordon Lewis said: Compilation.

Echoing Dale Greer's sentiment. I definitely will be purchasing the book.

Yay! You'll have fun doing this, whatever the result. And something good and eminently worth reading will come from it.

When I read your previous column on writing your thriller, I hear this old joke in my head: "Patient: Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this. Doctor: Stop doing it". Why would you want to write a book in a genre you don't even enjoy?

But, now, you're talking. I would love to have a book (even an e-book, although a real paper book with photographs would be so much better) written by you on the subject you are most passionate about. It sounds like a project we all can get excited about!

You might find a visit to the third floor writing room of Mark Twain's house in Harford, CT inspiring. He had, of course, a desk, but also a large plain 16 pigeonhole shelf. The story is that Twain kept a manuscript in each partition and pulled out one to be worked on when inspiration for that project hit him. Seeing the shelf as a relic of his workflow is my most vivid memory of the room. Oddly, the middle of the room was occupied by a large felted table with balls and pockets.

Hmmm, a book about photography and beyond! Sounds good...should make for VERY interesting reading indeed, coming as it will from Mike Johnston's pen.
Way to go, Mike. Make it happen - get it out of your system.
Many years ago, I managed to get mine out of me. It felt good.


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