Cleveland Musuem of Art: DIY Photobooks

So I have this book called “On Approach.” I call this book, “The book that won’t die.” Technically, everything about this book is wrong, at least in terms of traditional thinking when it comes to the photographic book. It’s only 5×8. It has eleven photos total. It is only twenty-two pages. The paper is a 60-pound ivory paper never intended for photographs, and I purposely put critical or key elements in the gutter. Everything is wrong. The only problem is, for whatever reason, the book works.

This book has literally traveled the world. It’s sold in key, high-end photo bookstores. It’s in a variety of really high-end collections, and it has garnered me, BY FAR, more accolades than any other book I’ve done.
The saga continues in a good way. As we speak, this book is part of the “DIY Photobook” show at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I applaud the museum in dreaming up and fulfilling this show, and I’m truly thrilled to be part of it. I recently received the catalog that accompanies the show and was pleasantly surprised to see one of my images.

If ANYONE ends up at this show I would love a short report. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make it and it’s driving me crazy. I’ll be everywhere else this fall but have no plans for Cleveland.

The moral of the story is not about me, or a show, or a museum. The moral of this story is to take our learned behavior, note it, and then move on and make something new, unique, interesting or different, especially when it comes to books. There is an entire world outside of the monograph and it’s our job as the “creatives” to explore.

On Approach: Continues



A few months ago I released a small book called “On Approach,” a book showing the various angles and lines as planes approached the John Wayne Airport in Orange County. I did this project, like many of my others, on my own. If I had waited for someone to fund this, or a magazine to express interest, it would, chances are, have never happened.

I rode my bike to shoot most of these, another angle to the story(Yes, the funny looking bike.) I wanted to find something close to where I live, something interesting, different, etc, and a project that didn’t require travel or anything exotic.

I released the book, it was chosen a “staff pick” by the folks at Blurb, and consequently rocketed up in the ratings and hits area. I’ve sold a few, would like to sell more, but more importantly, I really like the images. The response to this book is fantastic, so I carry a copy with me when I’m making my rounds, and it never fails to gain reaction.

I’ve had designers tell me they like it, photogs, editors, pilots, art agents, PR folks, and most importantly, mom, who gave it a four out of five skunk rating. (Nearly unheard of)

Needless to say, I’m continuing this project. At this point, I’d call it therapy. Shooting, I think for most photographers, is the best time of all. What we do is about 90% business, so when it comes time to actually work, and you can work on images that inspire you as the photographer, there is nothing better.

You would think this would be the norm, but like any job, there is usually a “wintery mix” of assignments, jobs, paths we must follow to curl our toes in the grass of the photographic promised land.

Doing this project, so close to home, and void of strings, has allowed me to develop at least two other projects, all within minutes, via bike, of my house.

You might be asking, “Why are you doing this?” “Who are you shooting this for?” “Why are you printing this if there isn’t a buyer, magazine, final destination for these images?”

Cause that’s what I do. I’m a photographer!

When I was very little, I went fishing with my dad and my grandpa. My grandpa was old, didn’t move well, and as we sat in the boat, something odd happened. First, he had has his underwear pulled up really high, which I never figured out, but that is another story. What happened was a spider built a web from his elbow to the oar holder on the boat, which should give you an idea of how little movement I’m talking about.

If I waited for approval to shoot, create, edit, print, design, publish or anything else related to photography, I have visions of this same spider, living in my studio, merrily building a web from my elbow to say…my computer, or monitor, or desk.

So, as I look to my left, sitting on my desk, I see five more books, done this same way, solo. They are books about Morocco, bullfighting, desert racing, planes and even foreign lands. They represent my best work, plain and simple, a window into my inner machine.

Today I will start another, fingers crossed.

LINK TO ON APPROACH