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Photo Books – How Many Images Is Enough?

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How many images is optimum for a photo book? Of course, the answer depends on the kind of book being produced and its purpose. There’s no set number; extreme lengths for books vary between as few as 12 to more than 300 images.
There are number of things to keep in mind when making a photo book.
Most photo books contain between 50 and 100 images.
Shorter books can work well if the images they contain are very concentrated, being both graphically strong and thematically related. Short books can leave and audience feeling hungry for more, which is a good thing – but if they don’t create strong presence rapidly they’ll lack both impact and staying power.
Longer books work well if a subject is complex and/or portrays a substantial duration of time. Long books may tire an audience and if not carefully edited and sequenced can seem unfocussed and rambling.
Be careful. It’s tempting to show all of your work. Instead, show only your best work. Avoid including weaker images to make a book seem larger and more important; they just dilute the average quality. And, include only images that relate to one another. Avoid including more images simply because they’re graphically strong; instead, select images that are related to each other. The form of a book will imply and create relationships between the separate items included in it. Make sure a viewer’s attempts to find and understand those relationships don’t go unrewarded. The more interesting and rewarding you can make this search, the stronger your book will be.
One way to find out if a book is too short or too long is to create a prototype and then observe how people interact with it. Do they put a short book down quickly without giving it a second or third look? Do they suddenly increase their viewing speed in a long book or not finish at all? After someone looks at a book, ask them if the book seems too short or too long.
Find more Bookmaking resources here.
Learn more in my Fine Art Digital Printing workshops.

Clay Shirky – How Cognitive Surplus Will Change The World


“Clay Shirky looks at ‘cognitive surplus’ — the shared, online work we do with our spare brain cycles. While we’re busy editing Wikipedia, posting to Ushahidi (and yes, making LOLcats), we’re building a better, more cooperative world.”
He points out, “The gap is between doing anything and doing nothing.”
What will you do today, this week, this month, this year, next year?

Writing Artist's Statements

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It’s important to learn how to make the visual verbal, by crafting artist’s statements. Many artists feel that images are better seen and not heard. I understand their point of view. But, face it, things will be said and written about your images. If you don’t do it, someone else will. You might as well become involved in the process. After all, as the author, this is one arena where your words are definitive.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to write. Just write. Write like you speak. Write with your voice.
Like making images, writing is a process, a process of making thoughts and feelings clearer. Often, you don’t know what shape the final product will take, until you finish.
At first, I resisted writing about my images. Now, I find the process so valuable that I’ve made it a part of my artistic process. Every time a new body of work arises, I write. When I’m ready to release a book of the work, I write again. As a result of writing, I gain a better understanding of the work I did, the work I’m doing, and the work I’m going to do. So do the people who see my images, surprisingly, even if they don’t read what I write.
This is an excerpt from a longer essay Artists’ Statements. Download it here.
Read my artist’s statements here.
Read the text from three recent books here.
Learn more in my Fine Art Digital Printing Workshops.

Breaking the Rules

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In his book Photography and the Art of Seeing, Freeman Patterson offers excellent advice. List all of the rules of photography. Then break them. If you do this, you’ll develop a better understanding of the medium.
I recommend you take this advice one step further. List all of your rules of photography. And break them. You’ll either find confirmation that what you’re doing is right for you or you’ll make new breakthroughs. You’ll develop a better understanding of your personal relationship with the medium and your unique way of looking. Keep going. And revisit this list frequently.
Find my lists in my PDF Breaking The Rules.
Find more resources in my Lessons here.
Find out about my digital photography workshops here.

Things That Make Images Weaker

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During reviews in my workshops we discuss what keeps some images from working better and how they could be improved.
Here’s a list we compiled during my recent Iceland workshop.
Avoid these thing and make your images stronger.
Lack of Focus (Not Deliberate)
Limited Depth of Field (Not Deliberate)
Motion Blur (Not Deliberate)
Chromatic Aberation
Noise (Not Deliberate)
Posterization (Not Deliberate)
Lack of Shadow and/or Highlight Detail (Not Deliberate)
Color Contrast Between Elements Not Strong Enough
Low Contrast Light
Cropping Seems Accidental Rather Than Deliberate
Distracting Elements on the Frame
Almost Centered (Neither Centered Nor Significantly Off Center)
Too Many Competing Lines
Shapes Merge Becoming Unclear
Shapes Rendered Without Volume (Not Deliberate)
Too Busy (Complexity Lacks Structure)
Simple Subjects With No Counterpoint
Secondary Elements Distract From Primary Elements
Image Enhancements Call Attention To Themselves
Text Competing for Attention
Text Creates Unintended Commentary
Graphics (Text/Images) Not Integrated Into Image
Cliches
Insincerity
What else would you add to this list?
Find out about my digital photography workshops here.

Things That Make Images Stronger

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During reviews in my workshops we discuss images made in terms of what makes them strong and how they could be made stronger.
Here’s a list we compiled during my recent Iceland workshop.
You can use any one or more than one in combination to make your images stronger.
Form
Simplicity
Structured Complexity
Gesture
Leading Lines
Interesting Shape
Clean Shape
Deliberately Incomplete Shape
Clear Figure Ground Relationships
Overlapping Planes
Strong Recession (leading lines, overlapping planes, figure ground, color)
Texture
Pattern
Structured Fields
Minimalist Fields
Selective Focus
Archetypal or Evocative Proportion
Contrast
Clean Frame
Spaciously Placed from Frame
Touching the Frame
Cropped by Frame
Palette
Color Interest
Light
Luminosity Contrast
Hue Contrast
Saturation Contrast
Content
Significant Detail
Shows Subject’s Process
Shows Media Process
Clear Stage, Actor, Secondary Character
Action
Decisive Moment
Story
Unresolved Tension
Mystery Left to Be Solved
Emotion
Emotion of Subject
Personal Emotion
Emotional Interaction
Color Mood
Atmospheric Mood
What would you add to this list?
Find out about my digital photography workshops here.

Iceland 2010 – Participant Images Second Reviews

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We do lightning fast reviews of participant’s images in my digital photography workshops.
We discuss what works and why and what doesn’t and why not.
It’s wonderful to see how different the images are, made by individuals in the same situations using the same tools.
A lot of learning happens by simply sharing images and spontaneous responses.
Here’s a sampling of this week’s first selects during my Iceland 2010 workshop.
Reserve your space in my 2011 Iceland workshop here.
Find out about my digital photography workshops here.

Iceland 2010 – Workshop Participant Images First Selects

Iceland2010_reviews1
We do lightning fast reviews of participant’s images in my digital photography workshops.
We discuss what works and why and what doesn’t and why not.
It’s wonderful to see how different the images are, made by individuals in the same situations using the same tools.
A lot of learning happens by simply sharing images and spontaneous responses.
Here’s a sampling of this week’s first selects during my Iceland 2010 workshop.
Reserve your space in my 2011 Iceland workshop here.
Find out about my digital photography workshops here.