Making a Photo Book
This is the bit that I love the most. I've been given permission by the producers to actually put this book up on the table.
How did you get that?
I don't know, but you see this is a book. Do you know what a book is? I mean look at that, it's wonderful. You open it up, and there are pages in there that you can turn and involve yourself with. Beautiful color.
I've got this little theory because I saw something on social media the other day. That people travel a lot more now by air, there's a lot more airline flights. People are getting more comfortable traveling by air, but it seems the number of movies on flights don't change. I've seen a couple of people say, "I'm having to read books now "because I've seen all the movies." So I think that's one of the reasons that books are coming back.
And every picture is worth a thousand words. So, we've got lot's to read haven't we, Tony?
We have, these are good pictures. I like these pictures, who took them?
Some guy I know. So, let'...
s look at the photo book quickly. And in many ways I can look at it quickly, because the processes are in many ways very similar to creating an exhibition. So it's going to make it nice and easy. Step one, collect and edit your images. So that's pretty straight forward.
You just might need a few more.
Well that's a good point. An exhibition, you're restricted often by cost. With a book, to add an extra 10 to 20 pages it's not a big drama. Step two, let's do a quick page count. In other words, you might have a hundred photos so is that going to be a hundred page book? 50 page book, 150 page book? Depends, do you want to have double pages? Two photos per page, etc. How many photos will be on a double page spread? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. You're only going to have a very small book. But if it's one photo every two pages, the book is going to become bigger. But in my view, less is more. In other words, fewer photographs that are of stronger quality will create a book which is more stronger, and I know that's not grammatically correct, but that's alright.
Works for me.
So, step three, sort and storyboard. So in other words, when you've got a book together is there going to be a theme? Are the photos going to be all jumbled up, or are they going to go in chronological order? Or if it's a photograph of birds, are you going to put all the birds together, of the same species, or are they all going to be mixed up? It's not that there's a right or a wrong to this, but consider an order because that helps your viewer walk through the book. Because this book is also a journey. It's moving from the beginning, first the front cover to the back cover. Love that nun. So let's produce a pagination. Now a pagination is really just a piece of paper, with a lot of grids and each box in that grid represents a page. You can work out where the photos are going to go, and check what the flow is going to be like. Don't forget that you've got covers, because they cost money as well. When you're doing a book you can't generally end up in an uneven number. Because a page has got a front and a back, so it's always even. If you're doing one-off books, it's just multiples of two but if you're going to do offset books, then usually it's a multiple of four. It can be more economical to do multiples of eight or 12. So, moving right along. With those photographs that we do, just like exhibitions, gotta make sure they're edited, spotted and more or less sized. I mean, you don't want to have huge photographs to put in a book when the reproduction's going to come down. But I don't normally resize them to be perfectly the right size. I normally leave them a little bit bigger, and I find the software that I'm using which is InDesign will resize and do everything nicely for me. So I'm quite relaxed will all of that. Okay, so let's think up a book title. We can't just put--
Traveling with Peter.
Traveling with Pete! Literal or obscure?
Okay so, Antarctica is a literal title for my book or Rockhopper, people have to think a little bit harder about what a rockhopper might be in a book on Antarctica. Do you have a subtitle? Like Rockhopper, Photos by Peter Eastway. Or Rock, Photos by Tony Hewitt, because he rocks. So, design your cover. I often think with a book if you design the cover, at least get an idea for the cover first that can set the tone for the rest of it. You can always come back and redesign the cover later on. We're going to show later on a little bit about the different options you can have for cover designs etc. You've got to think about the typeface, what the font is, and whether it's going to be a hard cover like this, whether it's going to have a dust jacket over it, or whether it's just going to be a hard cover with a photograph or the color on the actual cover itself. Did I make sense there?
You did, pretty good sense.
Alright, so step eight, design your text. What are we going to have for page numbers? If we're going to have captions, what size are they going to be? What font are they going to be? Are you going to have headings? Are you going to have a heading at the top? Which might be for the whole book. This book is called Middlehurst. So at the top of each white page, there's the heading Middlehurst, just in case our readers forget what they're reading.
I like how you put page numbers different colors there.
The different colors are for each of the photographers you see, each photographer has got a different color. Even you've got a different color.
Do you want to explain why there's different photographers in here?
There's different photographers here-- So the design of this book was from our Middlehurst workshop so there were five of us in total, three guests, and Tony and I, so there's five sections, so there's a different color for each section. The grouping of the photographs in the book is by photographer, or author. Not all books are just photo books. Sometimes I will include in a book a little bit of a story about where I was, what was happening. If you're going to have words, write the words, or you're gonna have somebody write them for you because maybe you're not a great writer. This is just a little bit of an introduction, and that just talks to people about what the book is all about, gives it a bit of context. I think you do need some words, that's for sure. At the back we've also got a little section where we've got acknowledgements. This is on Middlehurst Station, a photograph of the farmers there who looked after us so well. And how they can contact us and that sort of stuff. Think of the book as telling everything that is required of the reader so that they understand what it's all about and what it's doing. We are speeding along here so that's great. Design the pages. Now we're looking at the pages themselves. You'll see that we've got some photos that are what we call full bleed, other photos which have a white border, and there's no reason as to why you do one or the other, but there with the vertical obviously if I full bleed it I'm going to be cropping it, so I've got two verticals on the page together. Over here, that's a full bleed and there's a horizontal. It's always a challenge as to how you design the book with the photos in it, and my view at the moment is the easiest way is a square book if you've got vertical and horizontal photos. You can always make a big splash if you wanted with a double page spread for a big panorama.
The good thing is you've got consistency of style but there's still a little bit of variety as you go through.
Correct, that's right. There's software that does this for you. If you're into doing your own photo book, you only have to have one printed, often the book publishers or the book printers have got software for you that you can download and they'll let you design it and there's lots of bells and whistles you can play with. My suggestion is keep the design nice and clean and simple to start with. We'll touch on that in a little while when I bring out the PDFs. What I'm getting at here, fine tune the design, take time. It's a little bit like creating that beautiful photograph, that work of art. Put it away, come back, look at it. Even talk to a graphic designer. In fact I shouldn't say even, I should recommend that you do. If it's a really important book talk to a graphic designer because they bring another element to the process that maybe you don't have the skillset to do. When you are doing it just check that all the spacing is correct. If you've got photos on a grid, that the spacing is the same all the way through. Just be very analytical, because it's very expensive to get it fixed up later on. Not as expensive as it used to be when you'd print 20,000 copies of it and you had a problem, "Ah, I just need to rub out that little dot on that page "20,000 times." Check and double check. If you've got words, get a proofreader in, someone to check that it's all spelled correctly.
One of the important things with this sort of thing particularly the same with the exhibition prints, but particularly with this, is to don't just do the double checking yourself. Always get in a second or maybe a third person, fresh eyes who aren't going to be selectively blind to a certain problem.
On screen, check that the quality is-- that there are enough pixels for the size. If there weren't enough pixels, if the file wasn't big enough, maybe you need to make the photo smaller in the reproduction just so that you can cover that. There's a little book here that I've got which is on Bhutan. There we go, we're up on screen. That was my front page, Black Ribbon and the Color of Prayer. This is the opening page, what we call our title page. Then we just went straight into the photos. I have them all with curved corners. I've got my caption and my location down the bottom and I've got my folly or my page number, and that's all I've got, and it's very simple. We won't go through the whole book but you'll see that it's balanced as we go through.
We talked about yesterday with our photos with the composition. We talked a little bit about, here today when we were doing some critiquing, but simplicity seems to be a common theme with not just your work but my work. What's your comment on that, the simplicity, what's the purpose of...
I guess when it comes to designing a book, to me the photo book is about the photo, not about the designer. My wife is the best book designer in the world, without question, but what I love about the way that she designs photo books is that she is aware of what the photographer is trying to do. I guess being married to a photographer for so many years she says, "Can't beat 'em, join 'em," and she looks after photographers when she designs the book. So if you can find a designer who appreciates photography then you will work together really well. That just gives you a bit of a feeling of a nice simple book. Let's talk a little bit about covers. Our Rockhopper exhibition, what are we gonna do with the cover? That's what we call a full bleed cover. I had to crop the photograph to get it. That shows a little bit more of the photograph. Do I have a black bottom or a white bottom? Do I have the photograph full size and I have a letterbox top and bottom? Do I have a colored background, which I've done intentionally horrible.
I was gonna say.
Hey, a matching yellow! Aren't I doing well? Don't you love this?
That's why you watch the designer.
I'm back to safety and something that looks a little bit better. Small? Small, lots of space can look cool. Maybe with just a little Rockhopper, or maybe it's (deeply) Rockhopper. Maybe it's Rockhop-per. Or maybe it's Rockhopper with a type so we're playing with it. Maybe we have Rockhopper up bigger. Maybe we put it around there. I'm just showing, I guess, a number of different ideas we could have. Big type. My wife would cringe at 90% of those. I'm just saying, things to look at and consider. Similarly when it comes to the page ideas when we've got a double page. That's the page open on the right and the left. We've got the two pages. We might leave it blank on the left. That's a really good thing to do in a photo book. It says this photograph is really important just as it is, and nothing else should contaminate it. How big should that photo be?
It feels like it should be bigger.
If we made it smaller though, there's more whitespace we've moved into it. That's in the middle, but it looks as though it's a little bit low, so sometimes you actually need to put it up higher so that optically it looks like it's in the middle. Same as when you're matteing a print. Where's the text going to go if we're going to have a little bit of a caption? Now it's starting to balance. When you're designing a book it is a matter of balancing the photograph and the text to some extent. Are we going to make the print bigger as you suggested? Oh, not too sure about that. Maybe not, I'm cropping my photo though, Tony, I'm losing it. Ah, double page spread.
Eh, but the middle of the page...
The middle of that page, it's gonna go right down that penguin. When you have the fold of the book, what can look great on your computer screen might actually not work because of the gutter where the pages are bound together. Just sort of keep that in mind. The option is not to run it completely over. Now you can see the line down between the two pages. Now although that photograph might go into the gutter it's not in an important part of the photograph so the viewer would still look at the penguins unimpeded. We've got two photos per page perhaps, nice and balanced, that's quite elegant. Which way should they go? We've got a choice of putting the photos on the left, or the right, and there can be reasons why they work one way better than the other. Do you put them together so that they bleed, but then it looks a little bit messy in the middle, there's no distinction between one photo and the other. So maybe bleeding into the gutter isn't such a good idea. Maybe you have one that's bleeding and one that's not. But there's a different size there. Do you make it smaller to make it work, do you put 'em on the other way? I'm not saying these necessarily work, in fact a lot of them don't. If we put two photos, they fit on the page and they look nice individually, but the two pages don't work together. So singly the pages might work but someone when they open up that book is always looking at two pages. Maybe you need to make them smaller to make them balanced, or make them the same height. Those two photos on the left are the same height as the single photo on the right. Maybe that's slightly better from a design point of view. Or maybe you just make the other photo so big that the little ones can be small. Maybe you line them up down the bottom, so we're thinking of a grid. Add a third one in, so now we've just got a simple shape across the middle but we've managed to grab four photos. Need multiple photos on the page, Tony? Lots of them perhaps? Size them, how do we balance them? That doesn't quite work, that doesn't quite work.
There's so many options, Pete. How do you know what's the right way to go?
Well, that's why a book designer is possibly a great idea. I think that we get the idea. I just wanted to show some of the things that definitely don't work, such as that.
Would you suggest that, a bit like exhibitions, you can have too many pictures in a book, and perhaps there's times when you should say, well these are the pictures I'd like to put in but if I just take out 10% then it's gonna be a stronger book?
Whether you take out 10%, or whether you add in another 10 pages to give you the space for the design that's required. There's no right or wrong. The whole purpose of these little PDFs was just to give you an idea of how many options there are and that maybe it's a good idea to talk to a designer. If you don't want to talk to a designer, go down to the book stores if you can find any anymore, go to Amazon and order a few books of photographer's work that you like and see what the design is. We talked about 10 10 10 in looking at photographs. Why don't you go and grab 10 books. Go to art galleries, they've got really good book stores normally, and they have all considered how to design a book that allows us to present a photograph or a painting in its best light.
Do you think that it's important to have, like you've got large scale images here, they're all big, broad, expansive landscapes. Is it important to make sure you don't have images that may be like that next to ones that are just detail, or can they work together?
I think it's like photography, Tony. There are exceptions to every rule. And I think it's just a matter of how you present it, etc. I'm just looking here at some what I would consider not well designed pages because there's no balance to them. Having the two bleeds in the middle there. Definitely dropping photos in on the top with a border is not so great. Borders aren't necessarily bad. So adding a black border there, even though it's on a white page, works okay. There are some borders that work better than others.
Question over here, yes.
Once you've finished getting the booked designed and laid out and everything, how do you go about publishing it? Do you run a big honking print run and then try to sell the prints, or do you sell them online?
Great question. I think that there are companies like Blurb for instance that do a great job in giving you one copy of your book, but there are lots and lots of single print run-- what do they call them? Print on demand printers. And a lot of those guys have got software which will allow you to do all of this yourself. When we're doing books where we're designing in InDesign-- so produce photos in Photoshop, bring them into InDesign, and then using Distiller and/or Acrobat Pro, we output a PDF file which is suitable to give to the printer. Depending on who's printing it we might have to do CMYK conversions or we can often stay in the RGB color space when we're going to the on demand printers. If you go to their websites they all have instructions for how to present the files to them. They'll give you specifications for how many pixels you need, etc, for the photos on the page, and all that sort of stuff. That's the mechanical side of it, and it's much, much cheaper. You might spend, like the little book we showed you before, that was about $280 for each book. And I'll tell you what, if I print one at $280 and it's not right, it's better than printing a thousand of them at $28, and finding that it's not right. Obviously the more you print, the price comes down, so you can get 1,000 copies of that book at $20 a book, so each book is only costing you $20, but you gotta buy 1,000 of them to get that price, so $280 is still a good deal.