My B&W Street Photography Book: EXPOSED!

Started Aug 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP Dan Wagner Contributing Member • Posts: 738
Re: My B&W Street Photography Book: EXPOSED!

Thanks Vidau.

For black and white with Blurb you need to use an RGB jpeg file. I supply a 300 dpi RGB jpeg at maximum quality. I generally make the photos 10 percent lighter. I prefer the upgraded uncoated paper they offer. Blurb books are printed at several different regional printers. From my experiences quality control is not a priority. My take on it is that they want to turn the books out fast and they must do the math and have come to the conclusion that most people are too lazy or don't care enough to complain about a badly printed book. Often their black and whites will have a pink or greenish cast. I think this is an ink and registration issue. When this happens I take photos to prove the problem and they redo the book. Clearly they're playing percentages. Sometimes books arrive damaged -- this happens most often when I get more than one 12x12 book, and it happens because the books are not packed properly and bounce around -- so if you're paying $150 for a book and it arrives with smashed corners you will want a redo of course.

The highlights and shadow detail is pretty good for what it is. I've shown it to a few gallery owners and they thought it was good. What's really fascinating to me is to compare a Blurb book with a vintage photo book -- books that were heralded in their time, and so often the Blurb book is better quality. Unless of course it's an Avedon or other high end book. I do check the levels on my files in Photoshop and make sure they're good -- I think this helps. For color photos, Blurb has some useful recommendations in their FAQs.

All this being said, if you do your best to give them good files, and if you suffer through a redo or two, you can get a nice book. There are usually coupon codes. This month the code is AUGUSTSAVINGS for 20 percent off and I think it goes to 8/26 -- plus at check out they gave me a 30 percent off a second copy -- so I got two copies. I like the wraparound covers more than the dust jacket for purposes of showing my work to others because I think the wraparound wears better.

The smart thing to do is get one first copy and then look at each photo and you may want to make some lighter, or burn an edge or fix something -- in which case you make the fixes and re-upload the book. If you have two copies you're unhappy with, you can use those two to register your copyright online -- it costs about $35 to register and of course you print the shipping slip and send two copies to Washington.

I like being able to share my photos with others, and the fact that the book can be viewed online for free lets me do this. Obviously expecting others to pay the one off high printing price is ridiculous. I dedicate each book to a different family member and try to give them a copy if I can, but at the price it's not easy to.

People can also buy a pdf, but the way they do the pdfs now doesn't keep the spread format - which I want for juxtaposing photos on opposite pages.

Also, once you make one Blurb book you're happy with, you can easily reuse the layout, so subsequent books are easier.

By the way, I write the first version of the copy, and then give it to a copywriter to rewrite and proof. On some of my books I've asked art director friends to help with the cover. But most of the time I just keep it simple and use Blurb's formatted options.

Making a new book each time I amass a few hundred images I like, helps me have a way to view these selections in printed form. This helps me decide what I want to photograph next, what changes I want to make moving forward, and more. It has greatly helped me self edit, both in camera and afterward. And writing the copy is a great exercise too.

In terms of themes and projects, so many people want to see themes. Personally, I find themes can be boring and can also be a chore. Most of my books have a few themes -- perhaps 12 images of one theme, and then another theme or grouping. Maybe at some point in the future I will take the 700 or so fave images in the books and make one book of what I think are the best. I did something like this in April when I made a Blurb magazine. The magazines are very nice and economical but you have to do them in InDesgin. At some point Blurb may have something like Booksmart to work with, and that will be an improvement.

For editing I pick my faves from the images I've shot, then I have a folder of deletion of previous faves -- I will use a few of these if they work when paired with newer images. Then I start making groupings and pairings -- followed by more deleting -- three or four rounds of this works well -- then I have my wife look at my edit and she will have a few comments and will not like a few images -- if I agree with her I delete these images, but I figure if I decided to shoot the image to begin with, then it's on me as it should be. I upload the images into the Blurb Booksmart software which is free -- and I see how it all works and make changes.

Over the past 18 months I've averaged one book every three months. The quickest turnaround was my Istanbul book. I left on 1/26/2013 for 13 days and had the book done and up on Blurb on 2/26/2013.

Well, sorry for such a long-winded and rambling reply -- hopefully this info will help others. And what's really great about doing your own book, is you don't have to wait for someone else to do it for you -- as in trying to get published. I also think it's better, much better than paying to enter photo contests, or paying entry fees to be in group shows. It's kind of liberating. And it motivates one to get out and shoot more, and try new things, and decide what means the most to them.

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