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Masters of Photography

Lesson 32 of 34

Everyone Can Make A Book Now

Joel Meyerowitz

Masters of Photography

Joel Meyerowitz

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Lesson Info

32. Everyone Can Make A Book Now

Lesson Info

Everyone Can Make A Book Now

(jazzy music) Probably every one of you dream about making a book or an exhibition. I certainly did when I was beginning. I hoped to have my work in a book, and I do. Now I have 25 books. So how do you make a book? How do you find the core elements in the range of your photographs, that could be assembled into a book? And how do you find the pace, and the beat, and the rhythm of a book? Everybody does it their own way. Some people like the jagged kind of jazzy momentum to a book. Somebody else wants it nice and smooth and flowy. Some people start with big pictures and then they move to smaller imagery. It's up to each of you to discover your own way. But let me give you a few things that I've learned in the course of making the 25 books that I have. (jazzy music) Sometimes, a subject arises out of your work. I talked about this in an earlier module, about how you discover that word. But once you have it, where do you begin? How do you layout a book? For example, here's a book called ...

Cape Light. This is probably my most famous book. It's been out for a long time, and many many editions of it. This was about Provincetown and Cape Cod. A very special place in America. And when I began to put the pictures together, I felt that because light was the subject, I wanted to start off in a way that even inside a house, light became the factor that drew the inspiration for me to make the photograph. So I had this warm, yellow, creamy interior. And what should the next picture be? When I layout a book, I make small sort of playing card size images, so I can carry them around with me all day and look at them in different arrangements on the table. That way I can muse about them and reconsider the way things play when I see them together. So I needed to follow this interior with something that would take us outside. And the next picture became this very pale, blue seascape with tiny, tiny figures along the bottom. I thought that's a risky thing to put the people far, far away. But give the sense of the scope of the space and the beauty of the light, and blue was a nice way of going against the yellow. It's kind of the complement of it. So step by step, I built the run of pictures in this book. I believe that it's play. If you follow my advice and make a series of small prints that you can carry in your hand, you can do this arrangement. I keep seeing, "Well how is it that when I'd flip this picture over and this one comes up, it doesn't feel right to me?" It feels slow or it feels like it doesn't make some kind of sense. It's in your capacity, everyone of you, not only to make a work of art but to make a book of your work. That also can be a work of art. So try this plan of making a lot of small pictures and run them out and when you get a run that feels really good to you tun them over and write on the back in red pencil, one, two three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 'till you're finished. And then take them and do 52 pickup. Throw them in the air, pick them all up, and start all over again. Because sometimes the picture at the end is a great beginning. And when you make a new order and you like that one, too, you write in a different color pencil, another set of numbers underneath the first one. And that way you're always in control of the sequencing that you made and the pleasures that it gave you and then you can run back and forth between them and say, "I like the first sequence better but at this point sequence B could actually come in here and make a passage that will develop my idea." Beause remember, photography look likes pictures but it's really ideas. Your ideas. And the kind of things that come up to you just in the course of your every day experience. The collecting of moments, of time that move you in a special way. And that's what a book is. It's a collection of bits and pieces of time that you thread together to make a pleasing, organized, structure. Something that has your personal poetry and has your beat, your sense of life, your joy. It's a joyous experience being out on the street, being in the world, making photographs, and then collecting your ideas and putting them in some kind of order. This is one of the greatest satisfactions of photography. So have some fun with this. (jazzy music) Let me show you something about laying a book out, and how's the best way to do it. Look at this pile of minis that I was talking about before. When you want to make an order of a book it's good to have these little cards in your hand, these playing cards that you can riffle and cut anyway you want. And then you just lay them out and you think, hm, no. How do they go together? Or should I put these women together? Here's a portrait, maybe these two portraits work together across a spread. Or maybe these polka dots on the wall and this guy with he stars on his hat and pictures of President Kennedy, maybe they fit together. There are lots of ways of approaching the layout of a book. But I think it's so important to have a small set of minis to work with so that you can see your thoughts and you can follow the flow of them as you move through a book and you try to keep the pace going at a certain rhythm, you try to have surprises as you turn the page. Because you don't want people to be bored after the first four pages, and say, "Well I don't want this book." And then put it back on the shelf. You want to excite them, make them think about, "This is unexpected." Because after all the world is unexpected. So this is an incredibly useful tactic that I've used for 25 books over the last probably 30 years of publishing and it works for me. And if it works for me it's gonna definitely work for you. That's my little minis that I used in the Cape Light shown. Look how small they were. Look at that. It's like a flip book. This is a treasure, this one. Look, I didn't have a photograph for that one, I had to make a drawing. (laughs) How cute, huh? Oh, well.

Class Description

Internationally renowned and award winning photographer Joel Meyerowitz is known for his iconic images that encompass decades of capturing all genres of photographs. Masters of Photography is bringing Joel’s class to CreativeLive to share the learnings from his vast career.

You’ll learn:

  • How to find a subject to photograph
  • How to improve your compositional skills
  • How to determine correct lighting
  • How to print your images and also create a photo book

Walk with Joel through picturesque Tuscany, bustling Siena and the vibrant streets of New York as he shows you how he creates his photographs. He will shares ideas, experiences, and his secrets on how to make great images. Joel will also suggest ideas for projects to try yourself. You can use any device from camera phone to DSLR, but in the end it’s all about you and your photography.



I have an all access pass and thought oh no, I have to pay for this one? I bit the bullet and I am so glad I did. Joel has a great deal of wisdom and experience because of his age. BUT, despite his age, he exudes a fountain of enthusiasm, playfulness, curiousity and constant wonder surrounding his subjects. He opened within me the possibilities of exploring different photographic subjects and allowing myself to experience the fun in pursuit of those subjects. I love the way he shows how someone can take the same ho hum scene, but then look around for a different point of view. He is indeed a Master and I thank Joel for the class.


This is a absulutely fantastic class. Joel Meyerowitz takes you on an journey of little but important advices. In each short video you got some jewels to improve your approach, your view and your art. I own a lot of classes here on CL, but this one is one of my favourits! Gentle and human. Thank you Joel Meyerowitz, you helped me a lot on my journey to develop my photography.

Cosmin Dolha

What do you do after you learn all the mechanics, the technical stuff, exposure triangle, lights, where do you start? Because I am starting, now! You will find encouragement and guidance, and real applicable wisdom. If you are new to photography as I am, this course will point you in the right direction. What a treasure! Thank you CreativeLive for this and thank you Joel Meyerowitz for taking such a gentle approach to such a complicated subject, that is photography.