On book making


Looks like the hypothetical book is not so hypothetical after all. Now that I have decided on the scope of the book, I’m finally getting somewhere with the selection and editing. Since this is my first endeavour ever in the field of book making and self publishing, I initially thought it would be best to narrow it down to something managable, and I started working with the interiors only. It didn’t get me anywhere. Not enough good material, and I literally needed some air after a couple of fruitless attemps to organize them. I missed the skies.

Also, I was shying away from my main concern: how to handle the obvious geographical classification of the landscapes. It became a sort of mental barrier. I was thinking about separate chapters per country, or drawing from pictures taken in the northern areas only. But while thinking it through, I lost every sense of enthousiasm for the whole idea of making a book. Grouping pictures together based on a geographical analogy seemed like an utterly boring thing to do. Like I would be copying my website for print. I realized that enjoying the process, and learning from it, is important to me. It’s only me I’m doing this for.

I chose to leave things as open as possible, and renounced all limitations in advance. Every picture I shot in the last five years that I’ve been happy with, is up for consideration. I’m not excessively productive, I don’t take pictures on a daily basis, and I’m usually fairly critical. If it wasn’t good enough at the time, it’s not good enough now. I don’t have thousands of pictures to work with. Hundreds, yes. I started to make pairs, spreads. Two pictures that I think work well together, based on subject, motif, mood, lines, scale, colour.. whatever makes it feel right to connect them. Sometimes it feels like the possibilities are endless, and sometimes it’s the opposite and it’s like looking for needles in a haystack.

Sometimes I doubt the quality of the pictures. If they even deserve a book. But I have no doubt that this is the right approach for me, or at least the most interesting. Geographics are really not that important. Sure, each of these series has its own feel, partly due to their locations, but mostly, I think, because of memories attached to them. And they are only mine. They are not narratives. I would even argue that they don’t have an awful lot to say about the place where they were taken. When you start making cross combinations, something quite different emerges. Themes. Something that binds all these pictures together. I got this comment on one of my photo’s recently. ”In the end, nothing changes. You show the world that is in you, through the world around you.” That is probably very true.

Every morning I fire up Book Wright to have a look at the spreads I’ve come up with the previous day. When it’s not good – too obvious, childish and meaningless image rhyme – I immediately feel it in my guts. When it actually might be good though, I’m not sure. I don’t know the first thing about editing and sequencing, not from a professional or academic perspective at least. I only have my instincts to trust. And I’m curious to see where they will take me.

Picture taken in Timanfaya, Lanzarote. One that’s definitely in, for now.

4 thoughts on “On book making”


    Hello Petra, editing is probably the most difficult thing in photography. To choose that is to renounce. Cruel dilemma but I trust in you and in your photographs…and please, MAKE YOUR BOOK.

  2. Petra, you are absolutely on the right track. In the end it is about you and the images themselves, how they speak to each other across the pages. Am really looking forward to your book.

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