A Photo Teacher |

In a Matter of Days

Posted in PHOT 156, PHOT 162 by Paul Turounet on January 31, 2008

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© Paul Turounet, Cancer Alley – Louisiana and New York, 2007, self-published Apple iPhoto book.

To view the book, click on Cancer Alley – Louisiana and New York iPhoto Book.pdf

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Since its early inception in the early nineteenth century, photographers have been collecting their images within the bound structure of the photo book. While individual prints are seen as the finished expressions of one’s vision, whether presented on gallery walls or in the sequenced structure of a portfolio, the photo book presents an accessible and intimate means for sharing and communicating that vision.

The photo book provides for a one-on-one relationship between the photographer and the viewer. This level of visual engagement allows for greater contemplation of the work at a mediated, personal pace compared to the busy and hurried sensibility one experiences in today’s museums and galleries. Through the sequential structuring of images, layout and the physical tactility of the book, the photographer’s vision is presented with heightened degree of visual and intellectual complexity that challenges the viewer to make connections between images and conceptual concerns.

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© Edward Grazda, American Color Slides, 2007, self-published Apple iPhoto book

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Unfortunately, one of the greatest challenges for the photographer was and continues to be how to get a photo book published. Until recently. With the continued development and improvements with on-demand printing, self-publishing a photo book is becoming much more accessible and cost-efficient for a photographer to easily publish their work as a book within a matter of days.

Since 2003, Stephen Shore has embraced the use of on-demand technology to produce over 50 Apple iPhoto books. Shore utilizes various structural frameworks to explore the visual relationships and conceptual possibilities with photographs as they exist within the structure of a book.

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I was interested in using them to produce small, defined, sequential works. Here’s what I mean by this: Looking at a large photographic book with, say, a hundred pictures is like going on a visual journey. Looking at it, one might be aware of the sequence, how one image leads to the next. However, a book with only ten images can be understood not only in terms of the sequence, but can be grasped as a whole, all at once, as a single complex work.

from the introduction, A Book in One Day, by Stephen Shore from the book, Stephen Shore – Witness Number One, which includes images from an iPhoto book (10-29-05) and an interview about his book publishing with on-demand technology.

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In considering the photo book as a whole, all at once, as a single complex work, the working process in making the photographs becomes directed by the conceptual rigor in developing an idea or curiosity while shooting. With such a process, there’s a sense of inspiration, curiosity, wonder and then a pictures being made that leads to other pictures being made within a short manner of time. One of the conceptual frameworks in which Shore works in is to consider the books as time capsules.

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One series of books I started a couple of months ago. I think of them as time capsules, and I do them on days when the New York Times has deemed it worthy to have an eight-column headline. You can go a year and not have one, or you can have two in a couple of months. So last week it was when Scooter Libby was indicted, and the last time was when the levy broke in New Orleans. And so on those days, I start with a picture of the front page of the New York Times, with the headline, and then I go around and take pictures of what’s going on that day. Suddenly I’m thinking about style, and what clothes look like, or cars, or the prices of things. But I’m also interested in what ordinary life is on that day.

With a lot of them I’m using tiny little cameras that you can’t make a big enough print from to do anything with. But really the answer to the question is while I’m shooting, I’m only thinking about it as a book. They’re all done in one day and so it’s all meant to be one work that I’m thinking about during the day. I’m thinking about how they’re going to relate to each other in a book. It’s not like at the end of the day I collect my pictures and make a book—the idea for the book is happening as the pictures are being made.

from In Conversation: Stephen Shore with Noah Sheldon and Roger White, for The Brooklyn Rail, December 2005/January 2006

To view one of his Apple iPhoto books (courtesy of American Photo), click on Stephen Shore – Flohmarkt iPhoto Book.pdf

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For more information about making on-demand photo books, click on The Photo Book – Self-Publishing with On-Demand Printing

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Assignment

Conceptually develop and photograph an idea to create a photo book with 10 – 15 images that can be understood not only in terms of the sequence, but can be grasped as a whole, all at once, as a single complex work. The book will be printed using an on-demand printing service. There are a number of conceptual possibilities in which to develop and execute the work, including the idea of the time capsule or site-specific. A couple of examples of how photographers have developed a conceptual framework in which to make photographs within the structure of a photo book include:

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The Scavenger Hunt, an artist book by Jonathan Gitelson, in which he found a list on a sidewalk and proceeded to go on a photographic scavenger hunt to locate the items on the list.

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As Far As I Could Get, by John Divola and published by Farewell Books in which the photographer is seen running away from the camera, revealing the captured distance allowed by the camera’s self-timer. Other projects have included Dogs Chasing My Car in the Deserts and Isolated Houses.

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Requirements

For the critique and evaluation, please present the following:

8½” x 11″ or 6″ x 8″ –  Apple iPhoto photobook with title and 10 – 15 images sequenced to reveal a cohesive conceptual concern.

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