Nightwalking from the project Insomnia: Hotel Noir photograph copyright of Douglas Stockdale
Nightwalking from the project Insomnia: Hotel Noir photograph copyright of Douglas Stockdale
Nightscape from my project Insomnia: Hotel Noir – photograph copyright of Douglas Stockdale
Entance from my project Insomnia: Hotel Noir – photograph copyright of Douglas Stockdale
Weathered Rock, CA photograph copyright of Douglas Stockdale
Just a quick note that I finished the last draft of the revised Introduction for my Limited Edition folio, Foundations. Okay, now I need to print everything for the folios themselves.
Now and then, I find myself thinking about grouping all of my landscapes photographs together for a book. Then I realize that I am much more interested in finishing my current project, Insomnia. Oh well, some day.
Best regards, Doug
Reflections from the project Insomnia: Hotel Noirphotography copyright of Douglas Stockdale
I have been reading and assessing a lot of photographic books recently to publish on The Photo Book, and to a lesser extent, photographic reviews at galleries, but still looking a ton of images on the Internet. One aspect of these reviews that I bring with me, probably unstated, but there nevertheless, is my personal background and experiences in photography.
Case in point, my photographic “training” has been heavily derived from experience, that is that I do not have a BFA in art or photography. That could be a strength or it could be a weakness, nevertheless, it is. As a result I have not taken formal classes on art criticism or photography criticism. Now I am reading the related texts on the subject and it is providing me with more insights on the process of reviewing and assessing art and photographs, but it also helps me understand where I am at and why I probably understand certain types of photographs better than others.
But it also helps me understand more about what my book reviews are about and who my audience probably is. As I do not have a post graduate academic degree, e.g. Ph.D. in art history, my writings are not academic in nature, e.g. convoluted with academic theories and jargon as to be unfathomable to most photographers. So my audience is not probably going to be the academics and the related academic world. Nice, eh?
Now I realize that having only John Szarkowski’s book The Photographers Eye to help guide me, as well as the types of photographs I had made in the 70′s & 80′s, pretty well had locked me into a Modernist viewpoint. Thus my understanding of Post-Modernismas it applied to photography was very limited and narrow. Which in retrospect was kinda weird, because as a painter, I leaned towards Abstract Expressionistic work. Yeah, I don’t quite get it either, but again, it is what it is. Perhaps why I am so comfortable with the development of current photographic project, Insomnia, which I now think is Post-Modernistic.
So taking my photographic book reviews seriously has led me to purchase addition books on art and photographic criticism as well as critical theory, such as Terry Barrett’s Criticizing Photographs and a collection of writings edited by Ashley La Grange, Basic Critical Theory for Photographers. Thus my Aha! and realization regarding the fact that I photographicly developed as a Modernist, but tempered with some aspects of Post-Modernism.
It allows me to better understand my book review process. I like to live with a book for a while before I publish my assessment. That duration can be a couple of weeks to a couple of months, or more, depending on how comfortable I am with my thoughts and feelings about the book. First I complete a quick read of just the photographs, making some equally quick notes, sort of a first impression. Then I read the introductions and artistic statements, making more notes. Afterwards I will keep coming back to the book to refine my thoughts and impressions and then start drafting my review.
I also try not to read other reviews about this particular book until I have essentially finished mine, and most times, I prefer to wait until I publish my review. And I don’t usually contact the photographer during the book’s assessment period.
So for those who are familiar with the kinds of photographic criticism, I hope will probably agree with my own self-assessment that I lean towards Exploratory Aesthetic Criticism (per Ralph Smith) and Applied Criticism(per Andy Grundberg). In plain speak, that means that 1.)I try to understand the books aesthetic aspects as completely as possible to ensure that the readers will experience what can be seen in a book and 2.) what I write is practical, immediate and directed at the work (book).
So as you might imagine, some of this new knowledge is going to roll over into my reviews, but I will do the best I can to continue to ensure that my reviews are practical, immediate and directed at the book itself.
Best regards, Doug
Country Road, Texas from the project In Passingphotography copyright of Douglas Stockdale
I have been looking for an elegant way to complete the Limited Edition book and photograph for In Passing. At the moment, it appears that the print will probably be the easier of the two, but I want to do a little more than just shrink wrap the photograph inside a sleeve, which is inside the book.
So I am now considering a larger archival folio folder similar to the one that I used with my Foundations Limited Edition. I am just off on one dimension, the outside dimension of the book is 11 x 13″, the inside of the folio is slightly larger than 11 x 14″. And the thickness of the book matches the inside width of the filo folder. Two out of three is not that bad, eh? So now I need some kind of elegant 1″ spacer to keep the book from sliding around inside the folio folder. So I’ll order one of the folios and then start hunting around, so not quite ready to sign the photo-eye contract yet until I’m a little more sure of just what I am doing.
Meanwhile, I did update the Blurb site for the “trade” edition of In Passing, to reflect the limited production to 100, to change the book’s availability to the hard cover with dust jacket and to change the paper to the standard 80 lb paper. And I dropped the books price a little as well. I also notified Laura at the 23 Sandy Gallery to reduce the price of the books at her gallery, even though they still have the premium paper.
So the gallery has a couple of the trade versions with the premium paper, as do I. But I will sign my trade copies as well if someone wants to purchase one directly from me at the new price. So I need to update my static web site with this new information later this week.
And I have been working some rough drafts of the introduction for my Foundations Limited Edition folio. I really do need to get that finished this week and then update the remaining folios as well as mailing the updates for the folio’s that I have already sold.
I am still working the details to provide my two workshops locally in O.C., which will be nice. So perhaps sometime this summer.
Best regards, Doug
BTW I recently took a 10x loop to examin the printed pages of the Blurb books as compared to some of the recent Hong Kong, China and Korea books that were offset halftone printed. The Blurb printing actually looks better, with finer detail and more probably more dpi than the offset plates. Now the book binding between the two does not compare, as the stiched binding on an offset printed book is much nicer, as well as a wider selection in available papers to print the books on. Nevertheless, that digital halftone of Blurb with the HP Indgo 5000 printer is pretty darn good. Most be the Modernist (photographer) side of me to be concerned about the print quality.
Untitled from the project Insomnia: Hotel Noircopyright of Douglas Stockdale
I have not discussed that much about writing and publishing my book reviews over on The Photo Book. Probably because of how those reviews and the blog in particular is evolving. And for me, the whole thing is evolving in an unplanned but excellent ways.
By background, I used to publish my book reviews on this blog, but then I broke out the book reviews and photographic exhibition reviews into separate blogs. I felt that the books and exhibitions reviews were a unique and different entity. I suppose it was an attempt to differentiate my personal musings about my photographic efforts from my opinions about what others are attempting. Perhaps similar to the difference between a static web site and a more interactive blog. So in essence, I am now sharing my personal musings as to how the book review blog is doing.
Maybe like many of you, my previous book collection reflected my personal interests and my photographic inclinations, augmenter with some non-photographic titles, such as Ashile Gorky and Willem de Kooning, from my painting days. Regardless, I purchased book consistently with where my interest tilted. And I will have to say now, that practice did not expand my horizons very much. So when I started writing the photographic book reviews, I realized that my scope of photograhic themes was a little narrow and limited.
So now I have started acquiring photographic books that are outside my normal interest and perhaps purposefully, books that I did not fully understand or agree with. Not to write a damning review or to chop anyone down, but for the opportunity to expand my own intellect on this broad subject. To stretch myself and to try to comprehend the intent of others. Not that I always do it to the satisfaction of every photographer and publisher.
And I find that as I look at these various books, read what they written and subsequently read into what they photograph, I have become a little more articulate in my opinions. Like my experience with attending a photographic exhibition with the intent of writing a review, my perspective has changes and is evolving. I look at a photographic body of work more critically that I had. As an analogy, the difference of watching golf from the sofa to actually playing a round with the intent of lowering my handicap. An intensity that perhaps I did not always tap into, as I was perhaps a bit too casual in my earlier observations and assessments. More of a photographic tourist.
Too the point, that I find that my first reviews are a paler version of my current assessments. Especially as I live with these books for a while, revisiting them and rethinking my initial reactions and reviews. So I just may re-publish an expanded review for some of the earlier books at the end of the year.
Best regards, Doug
BTW the image with this post is a work in progress, thus at this time, I want to just keep it untitled. I am not even sure if this will be included in the project, as I have one to two others from this take that I am tweaking. Sort of in conflict with yesterday’s post, but this particular image does not evoke the same clarity in thought, although it does appear to be the one that seems to get closer to my intent. That is probably why it does not have a final caption as I recognize a couple of things within the photograph that I need to tweak. A work in progress.
Open Ended – from the series Insomnia: Hotel Noir copyright 2009 Douglas Stockdale
One of the outcomes of gaining clarity of a project or series, is that all of a sudden, there are seeming less decisions to be made. As to what I need to do just seems so obvious. I am also realizing that with a cinematic story, in my role as a director, I have a lot of creative latitude. Kinda of enlightening.
So earlier in the week, I really tweaked my two prologue photographs, including giving them the horizontal flip to provide better directional flow. Then it dawned on me, I did not really have an effective ending to the story, the suitcase sitting on the bed had just too much ambiguity and now did not feel right. What I wanted was something more like the prologue, the traveler back on the move again.
But of course, to where? Maybe to home, but then again maybe on to the next temporary lay-over? Of course the cycle will be repeated soon enough again. Which is why I really like this particular photograph, one person, but also a duality, which for me is symbolic of internal angst and conflict that results from traveling away from my family.
Best regards, Doug
Update: Although for a good portion of this project, I have been the person in the photo, for the prologue and ending, I have been working with other images that I made. Another nice autobiographical touch to this photograph (other than finding a fitting image of an older guy) was that he is carrying a book. And that the book is not well defined.
I have been sitting on the fence as to self-publish or make submissions to the established publishers for my project, Insomnia. There are some pros and cons for each alternative. But the biggest draw back to self publishing is the ability to distribution of the book after all of the investments have been made. One of the key aspects for the established publishers is the artistic validation that is provided, and the ensuing opportunities that could result.
Now self-publishing has two big alternatives, one is relatively inexpensive investment but results in an expensive book, which is using the Print on Demand (POD) publishers. The second alternative is an expensive investment, but a relatively low cost book which is necessary for the traditional booksellers and book distributors.
So I am thinking about about developing a straw man, or a high quality dummy book, through Blurb, a POD publisher that I am using. If I can finish the Insomnia project and develop the Blurb book dummy by the end of June, I can submit it to Blurb’s photography.book.now juried book contest. If it does well, then potentially keep in the Blurb distribution channel. If not, remove it from the public sector, but then print copies as book dummies for submissions to the book publishers.
One aspect of the traditional book publishers is that they may or may not include the photographer (me) in the book’s design, layout, editing, image pairing and sequencing. Since my project has a cinematic story line, the basic flow of the images should be evident. There is always room for the exact pairing and some of the sequencing decisions, but that is also an interesting part of the collaborative effort with the publisher and book designer. So ideally if I provide a very sophisticated book dummy, this will hopefully influence those design decisions.
So that is what I am thinking at the moment,
Best regards, Douglas
Re-emerging Traces (from the photo project In Passing) copyright 2009 Douglas Stockdale
So I ought to be working on my series Insomnia, eh?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have been continuing to work on the thorny problem of 1) selling my self-published books, 2) the high cost of the Blurb published books if I publish something really nice, 3) the even higher priced Blurb books because of item 2 the 4) potentially limited distribution channels because of items 2 and 3. Sheeese, what’s a guy gonna do, eh?
So in the middle of this, I did get into a email discussion with Melanie McWhorter at photo-eye book store (Santa Fe) during a segway with another issue I was researching. So we traded a bunch of stuff about this whole cost/price issue with self-published POD books. I was trying to get my arms around all of these issues, but something that might work to all of our benefits.
Meanwhile I have been reading some earlier photo-eye magazine articles about publishing a book that Amanda Keller-Konya had reminded me of. And I think that I found some clues for what I might be able to do with this issue.
First, folks are not compelled to buy a book immediately if it seems that it will be available forever, as they will buy the book “later” when they can afford it. So the first thing that I need to do for my hardcover In Passing is announce a cut-off of when the book will no longer be available, much like the traditional publishers do with their editions. What I am puzzling over is what is that cut-off number, but at the moment, I am thinking that I will take the hardcover out of circulation when I sell 100 of them.
Second is the option of selling a Limited Edition of the book with a Limited Edition print. Per the photo-eye articles, one nice option is to offer a unique print that is part of the project, but NOT in the book. Hmmmm, I was not sure that I had such a photograph, since I had really edited the book down to the core images. So then I thought that I would photograph another roadside memorial or re-photograph the place where a memorial once was, but now is gone. So it occurred to me, I did notice that where one of the local roadside memorials had been removed, but there now appeared to be something small lurking on the same site recently.
Okay, I was back working on In Passing again. So I headed back onto the 241 tollroad on a somewhat cloudy day. And sure enough, there were now traces of a very small memorial now re-emerging where the larger memorial had been. In a way, no real surprise. What I have learned a while back is that some folks are persistent when it comes to these.
But one of my worst fears occurred while photographing this, as it is on the side of a busy state tollroad. Nope not an accident, but the Highway Patrol. Ya see, stopping on a tollroad that happens to be a CA state route is not necessarily legal when it comes to taking photographs. Sorry, but I can not lie about my car breaking down. Especially when I have my camera up on a tripod, as that would be really foolish. BUT what I did quickly find out in the ensuing discussion, was this officer was the second person at the scene of this accident and knew what happened. Turns out he was a good guy, and essentially gave me more information on what happened here as well as where there were a few more of these memorials in the area. cool.
Bottom line, the driver of an on-coming car feel asleep, drove over the medium directly into the car of the woman who was approaching from the other direction and killing her instantly. She was a grandmother who was unknowningly driving around the bend of the tollroad into an instant disaster. very sad.
I had not initially noticed the unique cloud formation, but as I was working the composition, I had decided to include more of the distant landscape. That is when I realized that if I moved my camera I could compose the image with this cloud sort of radiating from the bush, which was just above where the new sea shells were laying on the ground. (that is what sorta got me into trouble, in as I had to walk out into the tollroad just a weee bit. sigh)
So now I have this wonderful additional photograph for the Limited Edition book. And in retrospect, this final composition (and final exposure before I got busted) provided a similar visual and emotional effect as the image that is on my book cover. very nice.
As to the Limited Edition book/print, I am considering just 10 each along with an artist proof or two. When I discussed this with Melanie, I found that photo-eye is also very excited about both the book and especially my Limited Edition idea, as she immediately sent me their book selling agreement. We have not finalized the price yet for the Limited Edition, but I need to work back from what my expenses are and the percentage commission that goes to photo-eye. But they do not want to commit yet for the entire Edition, so I will also be selling a few of these myself. So please let me know if you are interested.
Now I have to figure out an elegant way to package this Limited Edition book + print, but also keep it affordable, so probably no clam shell or anything really fancy.
And also decide on the presentation of the Limited Edition book versus the trade/Blurb. I have a choice of two different hard covers, the regular hardcover with dust jacket, which provides a very glossy and nice cover photograph or the ImageWrap, which is somewhere between a matte and luster cover. And to keep the trade/Blurb book with the 100 paper or go the 80, and use the 100 only for the Limited Edition. I am thinking the more expensive and nicer 100 lb paper for the Limited Edition.
If I can decrease my costs for the trade/Blurb, I can also make it more affordable and lower the price. So I will take a couple of days to muttle that over. Meanwhile, if you want to purchase the trade/Blurb book (here) with the ImageWrap cover and 100 paper, you now have a chance to do that before I make the changes. Sort of a heads up for my fans, eh??
Best regards, Douglas
BTW, no ticket;- )