Yes, another book. This one is slightly different. Based on a variety of nouns. People, places and things. For those of you who are new to Smogranch and don’t know me, then you should know that illustrated books are a big part of my life. I work for Blurb as “Photographer at Large,” a strange and mysterious title that allows me get away with a lot. I’m very, very fortunate to be in this position. A great job. Challenging and ever-changing. Consequently, I make a lot of books. I’ve made over 170 publications with Blurb. Books, magazines, Ebooks, etc. And I’m just warming up. I’ve got an entire series of “Edition of One” books, which I’ve posted about before. They are books that will live their entire lives as ONE COPY. I call them “Because I Can” books because print-on-demand has allowed us to do things we’ve never been able to do before. The scarcity of these books is what makes them interesting, and as a collective, fifteen so far with fifty being the goal, they become something entirely different as a gaggle.
Not all of them are Blurb books. I wanted to share my latest creation which actually has the guts of a Japanese journal. One, long, foldout publication, entirely blank. Small. The book is titled “Australia 72” because the idea to do it came from a trip to Australia where I was introduced to two every important things, street-art and the color of Western Australia.
The “72” reference comes from the fact that I shot the entire project with a Yashica Samurai, which is a “half-frame” camera and allows for 72 images per roll as opposed to the traditional 36. The book itself is 72 consecutive images, from one roll of film, sequenced in the order they were made. The first roll was made with color negative and focused on bait fish moving in their native, shallow surf. The second roll was made of sharks in their environment, and these images were made with black and white film. Within the sequence of the book there are TWO images of the sharks, dissecting the color imagery.
Taking from what I learned from my street-art exposure I then sprayed the entire book with three colors I thought best suited the project, but also several of the colors that reminded me of Western Australia. Black, white and blue. The prints were made 3.5×5, matte surface with a black border that anchors each image. I realized I wanted to trim the short ends so that it would further act to make the book appear as one flowing piece.
Finally, to give the viewer more of an “undersea” feel I created an “Undersea Viewer” which was made with a single roll of transparency film left uncut so that I could use the strips of desired length. I then had two pieces of matte cut to fit the dimensions of the book, placed the strips inside and sealed the two pieces together. The viewer comes in an envelope, also sprayed with the same triad of colors.
This book smells like paint. Rightly so. My office now smells like paint. So does my shed. I like the smell because it is a reminder to get off my ass and make things. I find that in the age of promotion people are actually making far less than they did before. Why? Well, cause we promote all the time, and I mean ALL THE TIME. I often find myself in conversation with photographers who are about to donate six to eighteen months of their life to the traditional book route, with entirely unrealistic goals and expectations accompanying them(not always but often) and I always ask “Are you a photographer?” And when they say “Yes,” I say “Go make photographs.”
The unfortunate thing is we don’t have much time. Any of us. So the productive years, let’s say eighteen to fifty-five, we need to be working, and I mean WORKING. Relentlessly. All the greats did. And do. They pour themselves into their work, and they don’t look up until it’s done. If they looked up after two weeks they simply wouldn’t be great. Personally, I find working this way a complete and total relief. Not having to say or prove anything until I’m ready.
Now, will this book change the world? No. Not even close. Will it get much attention and elevate my status in the book community? No. Not even close. Will I sell thousands of copies? No. Not even close. But it was fun. And it taught me a few things. And it’s personal. And it smells. What other reason do I really need?