photo book publishing path – part two

My photographer friend Sara Frances shared her trials and tribulations of self-publishing a photo book. This is part two of a five part series. Read on for some great ideas. (Editor) Start with Part One

Publishing Path Part Two

In this issue we’re tackling the conception of your book to the birth; the first three steps. Concept, audience and content. Most artists and photographers would incorrectly argue that their art is the first thing to be considered. At least not when a book is the concept.

Gary McLaughlin and longtime friend Glory Ann Penington teamed up in a self-published Blurb printing, now to be reissued with a commercial printer to get serious about selling.

What is your concept?

Ask what you have to say as an art photographer. Your theme, favorite subject, particular style, longtime project—what you believe in as an artist, what moves your soul. This is not a portfolio; nothing like what we do every day for our clients and to attract new ones. To be viable, a photo book cannot be a loose collection, but must tell a cohesive story—the story you are simply itching to tell!

Yes these artists know each other well; fitting images to the words and vice versa is a powerful combination.

Define your audience

Then the next question is to define the audience for that specific story. The scope of potential audience determines quantity print run as well as whether a specific topic will gain traction. Call it market research, or just plain search, for salability. This means going to book stores, photo book stores, and internet. But that’s not all: gift stores, museums, art galleries that offer photography are the next rung of outlets where you book might find a welcoming audience. How about new age or inspirational stores, even hospital gift shops! How about non-profit schools or nature institutions (that’s called special sales)?

Control your sales

Do you want to capitalize on a current trend or do you want to strike out to fill a topic niche that you feel is under-represented? Here are three approaches for controlling costs and expanding audience.

• Since the documented sales of most limited edition art photo books is 80 copies or less, you may choose a very limited run that you are sure you can see to family and friends—say 50 copies. Many art and poetry book printers require a commitment of this quantity as a pre-condition. Not a wrong answer.

Master Photographer Lisa Hill teamed up with three non-profits she is passionate about to offer calendars of her art work, entirely for their benefit—and no up-front cost to her

• If you want to scale your potential sale numbers, the collaborative route will open doors. Team up with an author, and your mail list more than doubles: yours, the author’s, and people interested in hybrid works. Added value.

• Teaming with a special interest non-profit that is involved in the subject of your images has potential, assuming the product is something the charity’s public will get behind. Be prepared to provide significant percent of monetary return as well as doing a significant part of the marketing and all of the fulfillment.

Lisa is a demon social media self promoter. Her line of art prints, calendars, cards and commercial work all feed off each other. Note her lovely logo and signature.

Sara Frances

author photo sara francisSara is a many-decades Master Photographic Craftsman out of Denver whose artistic focus has always been book making with images. Her albums won PPA merits starting well before digital capture, as well as for what is believed to be the first ever awarded portrait album. She has evolved from daily, shorter-term studio photography into exclusively special projects of long commitment. Her second hybrid photo/memoir art book, Fragments of Spirit, now published under her own mark, Photo Mirage Books, is available mid-December 2020.

Renewing her lifelong interest in creative writing, she was recently was accepted for Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Poetry Collective, graduating a year later with a forthcoming hybrid work marrying over 275 manipulated iPhone images with 120 poems: What to Wear to Paradise.

Her three-year quest to learn all facets of the art book industry has influenced her to give back with hands-on publishing classes. She is a judge for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and for Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA.) She teaches for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Denver, for PPA Super One Day seminars, and also mentors hybrid image/text projects.

To find Sara on social media search SaraFrancesPhotographer or email – imagination@photomirage.com

macgyver your way to camera support

If you have been following my Instagram feed you have seen I’ve been making the most of my Platypod camera support system. The Platypod people saw what I was doing and hired me to supply them with some images for their marketing. Here are some Platypod Black Friday deals they shared with me.

My Platypod story

I bought a Platypod at a convention. Used it once or twice then kinda forgot about it. It was a bit of a pain because I was using a tripod head from my other tripods rather than having one dedicated to it tending to use it only for special needs. I broke it out again and started using it and just kept finding new ways to put it to use. Getting super low angles was now really easy especially since my cameras have a tilting or flip screen. Not having to be on your belly to see your camera view is an awesome feature.

I finally got a dedicated tripod head for my Platypod and that has made a huge difference in my usage rates.

Thinking of it as a second tripod

When I stopped thinking of the Platy as a stand alone camera support I started using it even more. It now hangs from my bag all the time. It can be the single tripod I have with me. Or, more often, I use it as a second support and carry my Fotopro Eagle E6L as well. I set the Platypod up with a camera to make time-lapse images and the Fotopro gets another camera body for different compositions while the time-lapse images are being gathered.

Platypod in the middle of the creek for a low angle. The flip screen makes seeing what’s in the camera a piece of cake.

Fotopro Eagle E6L tripod. Light, versatile and works well in conjunction with my Platy when I want to have two camera supports while hiking.

Having time-lapse photos to work with allows for creative image making I call ‘compressed time’ photos. An image from the beginning of the session can be the foreground while the sky might some from a later image from the sequence.

platypod with mirrorless mover 20

Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 20 with Platypod Tripod. Now I have camera support with me at all times on the trail and can take a second tripod as well.

I’ve found the number of keepers I get from a photo session on a hike is probably three times as many with a second support. I get to tell a lot more stories from a single session.

Studio work

I’ve found uses for the Platypod in the studio as well. You can mount it on your tripod and add Goose-necks by using the threads made for the removable feet. That allows you to position LED lights for creative lighting. Especially good for macro shooting. If you think about it a little the well machined plate makes it easy to add all kinds of accessories to your gear.

Platypod mounted on tripod in the studio. Allows for hands free lighting support by adding Goose-necks.

A deal

It’s Black Friday and Platypod asked me to share some deals with you. Check them out. There is a limited supply so you might want to check them out right away. If you have any questions let me know!

MacGyver would be proud of what you can rig up with the Platypod!

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

photo book publishing path

Fellow photographer Sara Francis has published photo books and asked to share the trials and tribulations of getting them into print. Please welcome Sara with these guest posts as she shares this five-part series on getting a photo book into print.

Your Photographic Forever; a five-part series that will make you want to put your images into print. Why Print a photo book now?

In spite of distancing and upheaval, it’s a great time to publish a photo book—your photographic art in book form. My personal experience on the road to publish my retrospective and photo-memoir kickstarts this series. Here’s the good news.

All book sales, including art and photo books, are up more than 100%. As photographers, we already own and work with many of the tools needed to conceive and design an attractive, salable book—without paying for costly designers and editors. Printing costs are now much less than you’d expect.

The concept of a book, a stunning, coffee table book, hard cover, with a wide-ranging folio of our own work, well, that’s a goal that most of us have fostered for some time. I tried all sorts of avenues, including university presses for my 60-year photo project and memoir of the Taos Native American Pueblo, the artists of Taos I have known and the wonder of the region. Yes, strong regional interest and potential audience. I discovered four major roadblocks.

A great title, and also an informative, attractive contents page must grab attention. Note that most books are filed with only the spine showing, so be sure to have title, author and publisher name or mark showing.

Choose your publisher

Institutional presses, if they accept you at all, take at least two years to come to print, and you have little say in the design and presentation. Exclusively photo and art book printers have limited funds and take a handful of projects a year. Many say they approach only photographers they themselves name. No chance to submit. More mainstream publishers are so genre-conscious that images, especially images with text or poetry are simply not a fit they consider. Worse, publishers who claim support for new or regional artists mostly just want to sell you their design and editing services, so you still have little input.

Image and text, both poetry and memoir, tell the story of why I photographed this child.

This the bad news I encountered, and it was a deal breaker. I’ve spent more than three years figuring out how to do it myself, my way. I set out to work through the entire process from concept to design to print to distribute and promote. I wanted my book to look just like I wanted, not someone else’s design. At this point I can give you more good news. Over 50% of all books published are now independently or self published. And this trend continues to increase.

Ceremonial color proves a good foil for the sepia duo-tones in telling the regional story.

Steps forward

Classic rule of thirds composition in a grab shot, again unfolds the story.

Here’s the breakdown of steps to make the process financially feasible and technically manageable. In this series I hope I can coach you to think seriously about publishing and start the process toward reward under you own hand.

Concept
Audience
Content
Printer choice
Design
Edit
Warehouse
Distribution
Promotion

Bob is the first one to tell you that you don’t get rich on a book. My job is to show you steps to publish that won’t break the bank. And the riches! The satisfaction of a beautiful book is worth everything.

Proceed to Part Two of your book publishing path.

Sara Frances

author photo sara francisSara is a many-decades Master Photographic Craftsman out of Denver whose artistic focus has always been book making with images. Her albums won PPA merits starting well before digital capture, as well as for what is believed to be the first ever awarded portrait album. She has evolved from daily, shorter-term studio photography into exclusively special projects of long commitment. Her second hybrid photo/memoir art book, Fragments of Spirit, now published under her own mark, Photo Mirage Books, is available mid-December 2020.

Renewing her lifelong interest in creative writing, she was recently was accepted for Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Poetry Collective, graduating a year later with a forthcoming hybrid work marrying over 275 manipulated iPhone images with 120 poems: What to Wear to Paradise.

Her three-year quest to learn all facets of the art book industry has influenced her to give back with hands-on publishing classes. She is a judge for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and for Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA.) She teaches for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Denver, for PPA Super One Day seminars, and also mentors hybrid image/text projects.

To find Sara on social media search SaraFrancesPhotographer or email – imagination@photomirage.com

international photographic competition results

Professional Photographers of America (PPA) hold the International Photographic Competition (IPC) each year. My results.

The Jury

A panel of 36 eminent jurors from across the United States selected the top photographs from over 5,000 total submitted entries at PPA headquarters in Atlanta. Judged against a standard of excellence, 1,706 images were selected for the General Collection and 865 (roughly 17 percent) were selected for the esteemed Loan Collection—the best of the best. The Loan Collection images will all be published in the much-anticipated “Loan Collection” book by Marathon Press.

“I’m thankful that these challenges exist through PPA. Having your work reviewed and judged by top industry professionals helps keep my image making from becoming static. I get feedback on new techniques which is priceless in keeping me growing my image creation skills.”

‘Another World’ was captured at the Toadstools in Southern Utah.

‘Great Blue’ was captured in Page Springs, AZ at the Bubbling Ponds.

Loan Collection

Three of my images were accepted into the Loan Collection.

‘Orange Outburst’ is a water droplet photo.

 

Another water droplet capture in the PPA Loan Collection.

Two were made of experimental photography involving falling water droplets. Orange Outburst and Twice Nice show the result of specialty lighting of three water drops crashing at intervals which are done by very specific timing of the drops, plus a bit of endurance. Many images need to be captured to find some that create these patterns. The other Loan image was from a composite image titled ‘Blessing Place. Bob worked with images of animals photographed at the Phoenix Zoo some northern Arizona landscape features and and clouds photographed from above. 

In addition two more photographs were named to the General Collection. I rendered a watercolor of a great blue heron in flight over the Bubbling Ponds in Page Springs. ‘Another World’ was a night sky photograph of the Milky Way made while in Southern Utah of the Toadstools. It has a very prehistoric feel.

‘Blessing Place’ is a bit of a departure from my normal work.

Images will be in the International Photographic Exhibition alongside other top photographic works from the competition and traveling and special invitational displays. These images constitute one of the world’s largest annual exhibits of professional photography gathered simultaneously in one place.

About PPA

Founded in 1868, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the largest and longest-standing nonprofit photography trade association. It currently helps 30,000 professionals elevate their craft and grow their business with resources, protection, and education, all under PPA’s core guiding principle of bridging the gap between photographers and consumers. See more of my artwork at coatesart.net or at the Gallery of Modern Masters in Hillside, Sedona, AZ.

Coming soon

Above you can see the images that were favored by the judges. Soon I’ll share those that did not make it into the General Collection.

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

never stop photographing

Today’s post is by a guest photographer from Argentina. He says they are running into many of the same issues we photographers have here in the US. Here is NIcholas Tinelli’s take on the longevity of still image creation.

Let me know what you think after you have read the post.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

We will never stop photographing!

Nowadays, video seems to be more popular on a commercial level, with websites and social networks invaded by ads of all kinds, photography sometimes remains on the sidelines. The fact is that although modern cameras also make video, it is difficult for many professional photographers to keep up with the times and offer this type of service to be more competitive in the market. I also believe that the photographer and the videographer are two very distinct figures, or you do one thing or the other. Few people can handle both things well.

So? Is photography in its last days?

I would say definitely no.

First of all there is always a need for new images and if, as a photographer, you can adapt to new technologies and specialize in a niche using the marketing tools available today, you still have a chance to live on your passion full time. Presenting your work well as a professional will not miss the opportunities to grow and create lasting business relationships over time.

nothing stop photography graphic

Nothing Stops Photography – Graphic by Nicholas Tinelli

It must also be said that photography has undergone a great evolution over the years, not only technological, but also cultural, and is increasingly consolidated among the visual and communicative arts. Many photographers find space as artists and have the opportunity to show their projects to the public. It is extraordinary to be able to see many more photographic works printed in high museum-quality than in the past. In addition to the impact they have on the public, sometimes decisive for environmental and social issues. Just think of a photographer like the Canadian Paul Nicklen, who puts photography at the service of the environment.

Documentary Photography

Let’s not forget photography as a means of documentation. It has allowed us to record our recent past and continues to do so today, faster and with more and more people connected to each other who can show their little reality. It is a story, ours, that is also written in pictures and we will always need it. Just think how many photos we accumulate every day with our smartphones to document intimate family moments.

It’s something we can’t live without. And if it will not be by profession, we will continue to carry it on even just as a passion.

For this reason, I believe, we will never stop photographing.

Nicholas Tinelli

Bio: Nicholas Tinelli is a Travel and Portrait Photographer based in Buenos Aires. He runs photography courses and workshops in Argentina and is passionate about writing. Check out Nicholas’s work here. https://nicholastinelli.com

 

olympus 100-400mm lens test

Taking the Olympus M. Zukio 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 lens out for a spin. I’m liking it.

2X teleconverter

One of my favorite parts of the 100-400 is being able to add the 2X teleconverter MC20. While I lament the f/13 aperture I enjoy the extended reach. The field of view is similar to a 1600mm lens on a full frame 35mm camera. Makes getting more frame-filling images when photographing wildlife a whole lot easier.

dragonfly close-up image

100-400mm with 2x teleconverter on FotoPro Tripod

Here’s a close-up I was able to get of a dragonfly. It’s pretty amazing that it even shows the facets in the eyes. The camera was mounted on a Fotopro Eagle E6L Tripod with built-in gimbal head for easy adjustments as the little critters maneuver between reeds.

Moon

I was enjoying the dark skies of Sedona from my back patio. Just for fun I grabbed the 100-400mm 2X combo on the OM-D E-M1 Mark III and shot the moon.

1/2 moon photo

Incredible detail handheld 1600mm field of view.

Lens fully extended. Handheld at 1/400th of a second. After cropping down to the square I ended up with a file size about 2200 pixels.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

 

sunrise time-lapse at watson lake with platypod

PlatyPod tripod is a utility tool I’ve started using more often. I bought mine about a year and a half ago and set it aside for a bit, as it was not front of mind. I started using it again and found quite a few new and different ways to support my camera and lights. Now, the Ultra model stays clipped to my Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 20 camera bag.

Watson Lake, Prescott, Arizona

sunrise photo watson lake prescott arizona

Sunrise image selected from time-lapse captures

Having outfitted my car for camping I was able to be on site for sunrise and moon-rise shoots. I’m sharing some of the sunrise footage I made with my Lumix G9. Capturing time-lapse images adds to possible output. Of course, there’s the time-lapse processed at multiple playback speeds. Multiple images can also be processed together for noise reduction or other creative uses. Individual images can be selected for processing different times.

Time-lapse

Link to sunrise video. It is magical seeing time compressed. There is a different perspective when everything is shown faster. The world can be viewed in many different ways. Being a stills photographer/Lens Based Artist I seem to be drawn to what can be shared starting with individual captures. Putting the photos together gives me another creative outlet.

Low to the ground

platypod tripod at watson lake prescott arizona

Platypod Ultra tripod with a couple leveling bolts in place.

When making this set of images I wanted the camera to be low to the ground which, is a perfect use for the PlatyPod tripod. With no legs the camera is not affected by wind and stays steady Many regular tripods can get low as well, but end up with legs splayed.

Yours in Creative Photography,       Bob

FYI I am currently creating paid content for PlatyPod.

 

slices of sublime moments

Slices of sublime beauty wait in the wetlands of Sedona. The more time I spend in nature the more gifts seem to come my way. I have found however, that I have to be open to the experience.

Open to the experience

Pursuing dragonfly images in the wetlands is joy to me. Having to slow down and observe moments and behavior allow my brain to take a break. Sometimes I have the end in mind to such an extent that I forget to leave room for happy accidents.

This day was not one of those.

Reeds from the wetlands in Sedona, AZ form beautiful shapes curves and lines

Gear

An Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III was fitted out with the new ** M Zukio 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 lens with an MC 20 2x extender. The long lens compresses the scene and helps create a shallow depth-of-field. The camera rested on a FotoPro Eagle E6L tripod. The built in gimbal head makes it easy to maneuver the camera lens combo.

Back button focus

Because I use back button focus when photographing wildlife the camera only changes focus when it is engaged. Because I have to search for the wildlife through a long lens the focus was slightly off as a scanned the reeds. What I saw was a little slice of magic. That serendipitous moment led me to try this as a technique. Light and shadow in yellows and greens played soft silhouettes in my viewfinder.

I worked the scene and share a couple of the resulting images here.

Post processing

Very little post-production was done on these photos. A little spot cleanup here, a tiny dodge and burn there were all that was needed. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Yours in Creative Photography,     Bob

PS – if you have any questions let me know

** I am testing the 100-400mm lens. Release date is September 15th, 2020

new head shot

It was time to update my head shot. Don’t want to be like the cobbler that has no shoes.

The gear

I set my Lumix G9 with DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens on a tripod. I used the modeling lights of my Paul C Buff White Lightning 1200 flashes (no longer manufactured as I bought these lights when I first started around 25 years ago. Which is a testament to Buff lighting longevity!) Camera right had a 42 inch umbrella about 60 degrees off axis. Camera left another Buff light with no umbrella and a seven inch reflector for the background light.

Settings

Studio head shot

1/80th second f/1.2 ISO 200. Camera was triggered by Panasonic’s Image App on my phone which allowed me to set focus and see what the camera sees. Great for making a self portrait.

Color or Black and White

Black and white processed with Nik Silver EFEX Pro

Using Adobe’s Photoshop the file was processed in color with very light retouching. Removed a couple stray hairs along with a wild eyebrow hair. Nik Silver EFEX Pro (part of the NIK collection) was used for conversion to black and white.

Which do you like better? Color or black and white?

Yours in Creative Photography,          Bob

 

car camping aka boodocking – my build

With all that is going on with Covid–19 this year I knew I wasn’t going to be able to travel in my usual way. That led to outfitting my Toyota RAV 4 for boon docking, AKA car camping. My photographer friend Jose Robertson who came through in his vehicle when traveling 2 years ago inspired me.

The start

About a month ago Jose came through on another trip I had the opportunity to test my set up under his watchful eye. During his travels we camped at Lake Powell, Arizona for a couple nights. He taught me a lot and showed me I needed a few more modifications.

I’ll be doing a more in-depth article for the online magazine Photofocus.com. For now you can get an idea of how I fitted out the car.

A peek into the build

A look in the back. Cot with sleeping pad. Removable shelf. Bins for organization.

Not wanting to add a lot of weight or to remove seats I added a five-inch cot to sleep flat.

A shelf that is installed with no attachments to the car is a huge help. This went through a few design iterations. Especially since the cot was billed as being three inches tall. The shelf was redesigned with the five-inch actual cot height! The bins help organize. Bottom bin is the kitchen with stove, gas, cooking tools and utensils. Top bin holds my personal such as clothes and toiletries.

Assembled

Testing the setup. I assembled the ‘camp set up’ in my driveway before hitting the road. testing is good… Trust me on that!

Here’s an image from Watson Lake in Prescott, AZ with the vehicle in use. I’ll share more soon I’m heading out on a new lone adventure on Monday!

Yours in Creative Photography,      Bob

PS – my photographer friends will recognize that part of the support for the shade are two background stands I repurposed.