First Photo Book: Stone/Steel/People

A few weeks ago I took a workshop at the Minneapolis Photo Center. The workshop was led by Layne Kennedy. Layne led the Dogsledding Photo Workshop that I took a while back and I've had the pleasure of getting to know Layne as well. He's a great guy! I saw that he was doing this workshop in town and snapped up the opportunity to spend a weekend shooting. The focus of the workshop was to spend 72 HOURS focused on a subject and at the end of the project create a book. Putting together a book was what brought me to the workshop. I wanted to get some practice at creating a flow and telling a story through my photography. While digital photos are great, and zipping through 278 photos on a Web site may be preferred by some – I wanted to focus on editorial choice and creating a series of photos that worked together from the first to the last.

It took me a while to finish the book. I found the process interesting. Before I get to some of my lessons learned, take a peek at the book!

Some things that I learned while making this book:

  • Don't expect to make a completely finished book on the first, or even second, time through. I found that I ended up scraping everything and just starting over a couple of times until I got the right feel. Don't get focused on details until you are down the road a way.
  • The format of the book informed a lot of decisions. I decided to go with a square book. I also decided to go with a simple layout just putting one image on a page. This meant all my photos would be in a 1x1 format. The book layout and the photos I was working with both worked well there.
  • I let a lot of time pass before I finished the book. That is good and bad. On the bad side some recollections got rusty. On the good side I was able to see my photos with fresh eyes. This confirmed for me that I was making the right editorial decisions.
  • This takes a long time. I'm not sure what the right ratio is to make a book, and I'm sure you get faster with experience. This book has a little over 30 pictures in it. It took me between 10 and 15 hours to complete, I didn't track it that carefully. The point is, it takes a while.

The book was made using Blurb. They have software you run locally on your Mac and it worked pretty well. I'll wait until I get my first copy of the printed book before I make a recommendation. Other books I've seen off of the service look very good, so I expect it will be very nice.

You should also check out Layne's book 72HOURS - Stone Steel & People. Layne was obsessed with his Lensbaby. Heidi Neumann also took the class and her book looks great too.