Two New “Dogs Can’t Read” books.

As many of you know, I’m a book guy. I love books. I dream about them. I’ve made several. Well, add two more to the list. And folks, I made these books rather quickly. These small publications were not labored over, toiled over. I did not pull my hair out. I did not consult higher powers. I just did them. Bingo. Bango. You book designers are probably saying, “No joke.” I made the images over a year ago, but I just got around to making the books, and BOOK is a stretch in both cases. I consider these “books” simply sketches of an idea that I’ve been carrying around and acting out on for at least five years. The beauty of this book process, the print on demand process, is simply that you can make a single book. I LOVE to play with books. I’ve made an assortment of hideous creations not fit for public consumption, and I’ve made others that I’m proud of that continue to sell. My advice…just play.

A few years ago I started a project about dogs and graffiti in different cities/countries around the world. Palermo, Paris, New York, Tijuana and now Panama and Peru have entered in the mix. Is this story a world beater? No, not really. Have I sold a fair amount of these books? Yes. Dogs are a safe bet, but oddly enough the range of response to THIS particular project has been as varied as anything I’ve ever done. I’ve had people look at these images and claim to see great religious or political slant. No joke. I just nod and say, “You got me.” But back to the books. I love making these books for several reasons. First, it allows me to revisit the work. Second, it forces me to edit the work, and three, it allows me to create a physical artifact from the project. I don’t sweat these books. I enjoy the process and I toss the final product in a pile and revisit them from time to time. That’s all. I think sometimes we make too much of all this stuff. Photography, books, BEING photographers or book people. Just enjoy the process. You wanna be a world-beater? Good, go for it. Wanna just play, then play.

And for all you tech crazies out there. I know you want it. Wait for it…wait….wait for it……all Leica, all TRI-X. As the gear wars rage on I always find myself keeping an ear to the ground, thinking, “Well, I should go and look at these new cameras.” And then I do and I end up driving home empty handed. My old fallback of Leica, TRI-X is hard to beat. And now that my darkroom is nearing completion I really don’t see a need to change anything now. Of course tomorrow I’ll be saying something new, but I reserve the right to do so.

6×9 Heaven


Yes, that is correct. I’m posting about another book I created, but this one is a little different.

First, this book is for me. There is a business use as well, the fact this book will help me when I work in the field, but the original idea behind this was simply to help me get my head around this project. Speaking of this project. I’m a LONG way off. I mean a long way. But I knew that even before I created this book.

But let me alert you to something you probably already know. Making a book is interesting on several fronts. First, it’s about decisions. I now have to look at this work differently. I have decisions to make. Second, I have to edit. Third, I have to sequence. Fourth, I realize this first look book will form the initial opinion of my viewing audience. That is HUGE. It’s a gamble frankly and one that will work for me in some cases and against me in others.

This book is 6×9, about eighty pages, and I can’t tell you how good it looks. I’ve only shown it to ONE person at this point, and mailed two others off to people I’m hoping will help me along the way. The only person to see it seemed to have positive feelings. These small books are so powerful. The are approachable in a way a larger, more “official” book may or may not be. I want my books to be handled, left out, used.

I’m not saying this is the ultimate resting place for this work, but these books will compliment whatever else I do with this work. I can see a year from now doing another, the second version of this project, and within another two years I should have a good head start on being where I need to be to get this story across.

Fingers crossed.

Notebook

Not sure I ever featured this book, but I thought this a good time revisit what these little books can do. I get a lot of questions regarding books, how I use them, etc, and the answers are often complex. In short, there are MANY uses when it comes to making books, and in my experience, the limitations are not within the book world. The limitations I find are with us…the photographers, and what we feel books represent, what they must be, etc. My most successful book, cost $5 and took 15 minutes to make. Now this might not be the norm, but it sure taught me A LOT about what a book can do, and that it doesn’t have to be the most physically impressive to get the job done.

Case in point, “Notes of Maine.” This book is 5×8 inches, softcover, about 30 pages, and is slight, small and informal. The pages are lined with dotted lines with the idea being a journal style book, or notebook…hence the name…. I’ve done several of these books now, the small 5×8, black and white only books, and will continue to produce them. There is something satisfying in the simplicity and basic nature of these books. I’ve even done a 6×9 version, with another on the way in coming days.


The idea behind this book was a simple chronicle of family trip to Maine. I shot both color and black and white, 35mm only, and took photos exactly like I was taking visual notes. Quiet moments, family time, landscape, etc, the pure essence for me to be in Maine. As you can see, the paper in the black and white only books is not bright white because these books were not originally intended for photographs. But, if I tweak my contrast, prepare my files a certain way, which is something I do with ALL my books, regardless of whether or not I’m using this black and white only book, then suddenly the combination becomes a very doable and engaging tandem. Working with the contrast I can offset the tones of the paper.

What I like about these small, informal books is that they are a perfect match for me as a photographer. I shoot all the time, both random imagery and themed work, both large and small. So I’ve always got new material, and now I have a home for that material. I don’t always need to make something grand, something super-in depth. Sometime I want the freedom that random photography and simple bookmaking tools provide. I’ve got stacks of these little, 5×8 books, stacks which I package up and send off to clients, people I find interesting, other photographers, etc. I use them like cards at times, but a card that says so much more than my name, age and serial number.