The Magnum Photographers Magical Mystery Tour

- - From The Field

by Jonathan Blaustein

Musicians make their money on the road, but can the same logic be applied to photographers? Sure, The Strobist and Joe McNally can give camera-company-sponsored lighting workshops out of a bus around America ($249.00 DVD set not included), but can a motley group of Magnum photographers make money out of an RV named Uncle Jackson en route from Austin, TX to Oakland, CA?

The “Postcards from America” bus tour kicks off next month with Photographers Alec Soth, Mikhael Subotzky, Susan Meiselas, Jim Goldberg, Christopher Anderson and writer Ginger Strand documenting their journey from May 12 to May 26, 2011. I hope they learn from Willie Nelson’s mistakes and leave the reefer behind.

Make no mistake, this is a branded, sponsored, multi-platform endeavor, meant to support the photographer’s careers and shine some 21st Century light on the Magnum brand. The story will play out in realtime via Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and an audience participation site on Flickr. Photography fans will have the opportunity to buy postcards, books, and prints online, all printed on HP printers. Ultimately, there will be a pop-up exhibition somewhere in Oaktown. The photographers aim to engage directly with their audience, and I imagine they’ll have plenty of opportunities to chat over weak coffee and sugary donuts.

It’s not unlike the Kickstarter and platforms that enable photography fans and lovers to directly support the work of photojournalism. Until very recently, publications would hire photographers to create content that their consumers would then buy. That still happens, but what we’re seeing now is that photographers are attempting to cut out the middle-man by “selling” the content directly to the audience (out of necessity, of course). We can call it a gift, a reward, or donation, but really it’s just commerce. All in all, it’s a good idea if the prints and books sell, and everyone has a good time. Content will be generated. Compelling images will be made.

In the Interview we recently published with Nina Berman, I discussed the fact that the boundaries between journalism and art were beginning to seem arbitrary. This venture seems to validate that idea, as the “Postcards” tour doesn’t seem that much different from Ryan McGinley cruising around the country with a bunch of clothing averse young hotties. If we saw this as a road trip by a group of artists who happened to be friends, and who planned on selling prints after the fact, it wouldn’t seem strange or newsworthy. But the fact that this tour is being done in the shadow of Magnum, an icon of American photojournalism, makes it a much bigger deal. It’s hard to imagine Henri Cartier-Bresson rambling around the American West like Clark W. Griswold, but then again, HCB isn’t trying to pay the bills in 2011.


JWT Art Buyer on Email Self-Promos

- - Blog News

I get tons of them, at least 50 a day, especially on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays—it’s an insane amount. The problem is that I open and read 90 percent of my e-mails on a Blackberry so if you are sending me images in an e-mail, chances are I won’t see them.

The best e-mails are very focused, event-driven announcements about a show or a new book that’s coming, things of that nature. Keep in mind that creatives are not constantly looking for photographers, we’re doing our other job too.

— JWT Art Buyer Shawn Smith

via Jasmine DeFoore

Artists Statements – Are You Talking to Me?

- - Blog News

I spent about five years as a photo editor and was sort of amazed at how self-important artist statements can be. I recognize, and love, that photography can be important, life changing, awareness raising, haunting, process celebrating, but to say something is visceral doesn’t make it so. One person’s poetry is another person’s psycho-aesthetic retching. Self-importance is one of the most common over-reaches in the “language” of fine art photography. I have to admit that my own take is something of a cop out. I love language and I love photography – and I do work seriously – but I sort of refuse to self-celebrate with ten-dollar words. I am not sure I have always done the right thing at every turn as I am still rocking some very chic obscurity but I think I am being honest by not claiming the poetic everything stuff, even if I do hope an image jangles your zipper here and there.

via  HotshoeBlog.

Real World Estimates – Available Light Annual Report Portrait

By Jess Dudley, Wonderful Machine Producer

The creative director of a small West Coast graphic design firm recently contacted one of our photographers asking for a quote on a portrait for use in an annual report. The client was a large insurance company and they needed a picture of a financial planner who refers a lot of work their way.

The designer said the picture needed to be a tightly-cropped, environmental portrait at the subject’s office (about a 20 minute drive from the photographer’s studio). They wanted to see a variety of situations: “…the guy at his desk, at the computer, on the phone, looking at the camera, not looking, maybe outside.” The CD told me that the image would be used as a “supporting image within a sidebar in an annual report.” “Supporting image” was a little vague for me, so I asked to see a layout of the page to get a better idea of the size, placement and context of the picture. Looking at that, I saw that the picture would be relatively small, among other larger pictures, and that it was going to be used inside the brochure (rather than on the front or back cover). I also saw that it was a nicely designed brochure with other good photography comped in.

Looking back at a similar estimate I had worked on recently, I first set out to establish the fee. In this other project, the actual shoot was comparable, but the licensing was more extensive. It included Publicity Use and Collateral Use for a year. The subject in that case was also much more prominent within the company. In this case, they just needed one-time annual report use and the subject didn’t even work for the company that was producing the report. Also, looking back, the previous fee was probably a little fatter than I’d expect to get in the current economic climate. So I placed the fee for this one at 1000.00. The expenses are fairly straightforward. We wouldn’t need hair or makeup, props, wardrobe or backgrounds. That left us with the basic expense items: assistant, digital capture, strobe rental, file prep, miles and parking (since it was going to be less than 1/2-day, there wouldn’t be any meals to bill for).

Here’s the first estimate I sent over.


After confirming that they had received the estimate, there was no word from them for about a week. When the CD finally got back to me, he wanted us to shave 695.00 off the quote. “The client feels it’s a bit high for a simple head shot (half-day shoot). Would you be ok with $1200? Take a look at the comp again. I’m sure the photographer can do this without an assistant and rental equipment.” I took another look at the layout. The picture they showed in the comp was clearly strobe lit. I confirmed with the CD that he’d be happy with available light only. He said yes; so I called the photographer to discuss whether he’d be comfortable working without strobes or an assistant. It was a little awkward for the photographer because he only shows lit photos in his portfolio. So even though he was confident that he could do a good job without strobes or an assistant, the job was becoming less interesting to him. The photographer decided that he was comfortable working without an assistant and strobes as long as the client understood that the picture was going to have a different look from the comp.

With that resolved, we were still 180.00 over what the client wanted to spend. There really weren’t any other expenses we could do without, so the rest was going to have to come out of the fee. I couldn’t just arbitrarily reduce the fee just to meet the “budget.” (Probably the single most important rule of negotiating is that you can’t reduce what you’re getting without reducing what you’re giving. If you do, you’re just demonstrating to your client that you were trying to gouge them from the start.) But again, it raises the question for the photographer whether the job was worth doing. In my role as producer/estimator, I’m working for the photographer. So while it’s my job to lay out all the information and help him weigh his options, it’s ultimately his decision whether there’s enough money in a project to make it worth doing.

There are certainly a lot of reasons not to work too cheaply. The first is opportunity cost. If you commit to a low-budget project (that doesn’t have some other benefit), and another more interesting or lucrative assignment comes up, you’re going to miss out on it. Another is that clients tend to view your value partially based on what you charge. If you work cheap this time, they might not think to use you when they have a more lucrative job. A third reason is that a photographer only has so much time and energy. It can sometimes be better in the long run to rest or get caught up on your paperwork or marketing or working on your portfolio, rather than get bogged down in projects that you aren’t enthusiastic about or don’t pay enough.

It seemed clear that the client was not going to pay 1895.00 for the job, but I thought there was a good chance that they would be satisfied with the concession of taking out the assistant and strobes and agree to 1380.00. An alternative would be to pull out the web use, which was about proportional to the 180.00 we would need to get down to the 1200.00 the client was looking for. The photographer chose that option. The subject’s availability and the deadline gave the photographer the flexibility to move it around if something else came up. And it was about as simple as an assignment can get. So he decided to meet the client’s price rather than risking not getting the job over the remaining 180.00.

I sent off this revision along with my standard terms & conditions, which the agency approved.


2011 National Magazine Awards Finalists Announced

- - Awards

The American Society of Magazines Editors announced the finalists for their Print Award categories yesterday (Digital awards were given last month). Here are the nominees for photography and Design:

Honors overall excellence in magazine design, including the use of illustration and photography

For May, October, November Issues

For March 22, May 3, November 1 Issues

For June, August, December Issues

New York
For February 22-March 1, April 19, May 17 Issues

For June, July, August Issues

Honors overall excellence in magazine photography

For August, November, December Issues

Martha Stewart Living
For August, October, November Issues

National Geographic
For February, April, December Issues

The New York Times Magazine
For February 7, March 21, December 12 Issue

For September, October, November Issues

Honors photojournalism and photography that documents news, sports and entertainment events and news-related subjects

National Geographic
For “Veiled Rebellion,” by Elizabeth Rubin; photographs by Lynsey Addario

The New York Times Magazine
For “The Shrine Down the Hall,” photographs by Ashley Gilbertson; essay by Dexter Filkins
March 21

The New York Times Magazine
For “Dumping Across the Digital Divide,” photographs by Pieter Hugo
August 15

For “The Perils of Pregnancy: One Woman’s Tale of Dying to Give Birth,” by Alice Park; photographs by Lynsey Addario
June 14

Virginia Quarterly Review
For “The Cocaine Coast,” essay and photographs by Marco Vernaschi

Honors portraiture; fashion, travel and nature photography; and food, shelter and other still-life photography conceptual photography; and photo-illustration

AARP The Magazine
For “The Me I Used to Be,” by Frank Yuvancic; photographs by Gregg Segal

ESPN The Magazine
For “Bodies We Want,” reporting by Morty Ain
October 18

National Geographic
For “One Cubic Foot,” by Edward O. Wilson; photographs by David Littschwager

The New York Times Magazine
For “Fifteen Actors Acting,” photographs by Solve Sundsbo; introduction by A.O. Scott
December 12

For “The East Enders,” by Ted Polhemus; portfolio by Tim Walker

Congratulations to the creatives and photographers involved in each (Lynsey Addario twice!). It’s always an honor to be nominated. See the full list (here).

Work had slowed down in New York, so I got myself an agent in China

- - Blog News

It is changing very quickly. A lot of European and American photographers are already represented here, and it is becoming very competitive. It is, however, a very good place for artists. The cost of living and creating art in China is low. The art produced here is very good and in keeping with the art trends of the West. This could be the next Williamsburg…

— Sanjay Kothari

via Wonderful Machine Photography Blog.

New Getty Contract Met With Apathy

- - Stock

The new Getty contract finally arrived and while there’s nothing outlandish in the new terms, there seems to be a continual slow creep towards selling images for whatever price they would like. Long ago Getty bought into the long tail business model, which means it’s easier to own 10 million images that sell for a dollar than 10 images that sell for one million dollars. For contributors this means, “we are removing the ability for contributors to opt out of images moving from RM to RF” and “Getty Images would be able to include RF content in subscription products.”

A reader wrote and told me that “none of the photographer advocates seems to think this is worth fighting” and “few contributors have responded on the contributors site [for] fear of retribution from Getty.

I have been told by many people that the pricing has been in a downward spiral for a long time now with things like the Premium Access subscription model that companies like NBC use to get images super cheap where photographers will see $0.35 sales and any sales coming out of China will be less than $5. One rumor I heard recently was that photographers were seeing Worldwide Advertising going for $100/year. This is all just the long tail hard at work collecting money for the bottom line.

I know I’m beating a dead horse with this post and most photographers have soured on Getty and stock photography many, many years ago but some wanted to discuss so I thought I’d put it out there.

You can download the contract (2011 contributor agreement v.4.0 (d) sample-english).

Models Turn Against Photographers After Stock Sales

- - Working

These two model release related news stories landed on my desk last week. In both, the model is upset after seeing their picture used and even though they signed a release they want to go after the photographer because they didn’t consent to the use.

I asked Carolyn E. Wright the Photo Attorney, if the models have a case. She replied that “If the model releases signed in those cases are all-encompassing like this one:, then the model’s don’t have a legal complaint. The best practice is for photographers or ad agencies to clear the specific uses with the models when the uses might be controversial to avoid these types of complaints.”

They can make a stink about it on fox news, but if the release is solid they’ve got nothing in a court of law.

You Can Go From Third Place To First

- - Blog News

Our policy is that, no matter what, our photographer must have a call with the creative. Very often, if you are on the ball…you can go from third place to first. That’s happened to us quite a few times. We never do estimates without a creative call – how can you? We have no idea what the expectations are without talking to the creatives. This phone call is where all the stops are pulled out, and what happens before the photographer picks up the phone is critical. Do your homework before you get on the phone.

via Monaco Reps Look Here Blog.

Agents And Art Buyers Go To War

- - Working

UPDATE: April Fools!

What started as friendly banter when photography agent Heather Elder wrote an open letter to art buyers with several responding back and everyone agreeing and asking for open and honest dialogue between the two, has suddenly taken a turn for the worse this morning when a senior art buyer at DHPH-NY/LA declared “I’m tired of this shit, you people work for me” then announced a new policy called the “silent bid off.” Now up to 20 photographers will be asked to submit silent bids on all jobs. The job will be awarded to the lowest bid or picked based on “arbitrary rules we’ve made that you have no idea about.” Additionally, an a la carte menu will allow agents to purchase more information about a job (e.g. budget, creative call, who you’re bidding against) that may or may not give you an edge in the bid off and could potentially mean you’re paying them if you win.

Senior agent David Chartikoff from Creative Photographers Agency fired back with new surcharges that will be added to all jobs. Photographers will have at their discretion the ability to charge thousands of dollars in “dealing with agency/client buffoon charges.” The DWACB charges include additional surcharges for people trying to eat and drink the expense budget in a single evening and people standing around set acting like they’re on “spring break” instead of working. He hinted at some type of hangover fine but was initially unsure if that might backfire on some of his well known photographers who “work better” when everything is a bit blurry in the morning.

Another art buyer jumped into the fray and instituted a new portfolio show policy inspired by the pac-man video game. Agents must schlep 400 lbs of portfolios, snacks and drinks throughout the agency and try to find as many creatives as they can in an allotted time limit. Each creative you find gives you a small time bonus that you can use to show a portfolio or go find another creative. When found you can ply them with snacks and drinks, but if it’s not something they like (e.g. they’re allergic to an item) they get to smear frosting on the prints of the book you were trying to show them. Once time runs out all the creatives convene in a conference room for a meeting and you must exit the building immediately. Obstacles placed throughout the building (e.g. life size sponge bob squarepants) will prevent agents from using any mechanical aids in this new pac-agent challenge.

Finally the Agents Association of America made a surprise announcement and revealed a new email marketing tool they’ve been working on called the “Email Blast Master.” The EBM is capable of locking up a computer and rendering it useless until the email is read and the link to the website clicked on. In addition to locking up the computer anyone not expressing enthusiasm at the invitation to “check out new work” will immediately have their personal email blasted to all flickr users with the headline “Looking For Fresh New Photographers To Work With.”

This was all happening in a secret forum where agents and art buyers discuss jobs, so “untouchables” (photographers without agents) cannot land them, but someone broke in and opened the thing up to the pubic. Go check it out (here) before they close it again.

Christopher Anderson’s iPad Photography Book

- - Book Publishing

Speaking of photography books, Christopher Anderson has just released “Capitolio” which he claims is the first authored monograph photography book for the iPhone and iPad (here). I asked him a couple questions about it.

APE: I believe there are photobooks available as apps already so this is not the first is it?

CA: There are “photobooks” but they are all either collections of stock photography or something along the lines of a slide show that was put together for the ipad. The distinction I make is that it is the first authored monograph that was made for print and now has been translated to an “I” version. It may seem like a technicality outside the world of photo books, but it is a big difference for collectors, authors, and fans in general of photography books.

APE: Much of the value of a book comes from the printing, binding, paper and quantity that are made, essentially the cost to produce it. An app has none of this and in fact once you make one, the reproductions are free. Why would someone value the app over a book or in addition to the book?

CA: A book is the ultimate expression of the work, and obviously I count the original print version as the ideal original form of the book. But the technology got me thinking about how only a finite audience could see that end product where only 3,000 copies are printed and the price is out of reach for many people. By introducing the app version, I am democratizing the experience of the work by making it available to an infinite audience. And at 4.99 it is not a thing just for a certain elite. There are other implications as well such as the way that the book could now be used in an academic or educational setting. Perhaps the book could be used in a curriculum for photo students or, in the case of this book in particular, political science students for example. Yes, the print form is the consummate form, but now a wider audience can see it and understand the work how it was intended rather than just as a slide show on the web. Also, the app allows for added features such as a video interview that gives a deeper understanding of the work and a director’s cut of extra pictures.

APE: How does an app fit into the future of photobooks?

CA: As far as the future of photo books, I don’t really know, this is an experiment. But I imagine that the app version could ultimately drive sales of the print version…making it more valuable. It also might change the path of bringing a print version into existence. I could imagine a time where the existence of an ipad book might create a market for the print version. In other words, the app might become a successful self publishing model that could lead to a publisher making it into an actual printed book.


There’s another interview with Chris (here).

Lynsey Addario: ‘It’s What I Do’ — Why She Will Cover War Again

- - Blog News

If a woman wants to be a war photographer, she should. It’s important. Women offer a different perspective. We have access to women on a different level than men have, just as male photographers have a different relationship with the men they’re covering.In the Muslim world, most of my male colleagues can’t enter private homes. They can’t hang out with very conservative Muslim families. I have always been able to. It’s not easy to get the right to photograph in a house, but at least I have one foot in the door. I’ve always found it a great advantage, being a woman.


Publishing Your Photography Book

- - Book Publishing

Jonathan Blaustein speaks with Darius Himes and Mary Virginia Swanson about their new book.

In my experience, every photographer would like a book of his or her work. It’s a given, like the misery of next month’s tax deadline. Whether we’re talking about an artist monograph proffered by an established publisher, or a 21st Century-style photo album of the family trip to Puerto Rico, everyone wants a book. Yet the process is complicated, and often opaque for the average photographer.

Mary Virginia Swanson, who’s had a long and illustrious career in the photography industry, and Darius Himes, a writer and co-founder of Radius Books, have just published Publish Your Photography Book, (Princeton Architectural Press) which I mentioned in my article about the PDN Photo Plus Expo this past fall. They allowed me to preview a pdf of the entire book earlier this winter, and agreed to answer some questions.

Suffice it to say, I think it’s a terrific resource, and well worth purchasing. The book is accessible, and laid out in an elegant manner that is easy to read.  It’s a well-written, comprehensive look at the entire publishing process, from the conception of an idea through the marketing of a finished product. It also endeavors to push photographers to be honest about their desires and goals before embarking on what is obviously an arduous process. The authors have solicited expert opinions across a broad spectrum of the publishing industry, and include those other voices throughout the book. They also have a workbook section at the back, and an impressive trove of resources that will help a photographer realize their vision.

JB: The book mentions, and I would certainly agree, that all photographers would like to have their work printed in book form at some point.  But I feel that many photographers, myself included, view a book as an abstraction. Publish Your Photography Book gives photographers the information necessary to move from idea to physical form. Was that one of your primary goals?

MVS: Yes, PYPB charts the path from concept through production to physical book to sales and marketing, and helps artists plan for extending the life of their title beyond its launch.

JB:  Do you think that the rise in the market for photo books is actually a function of the power of the Internet?  As images have become dematerialized, is it possible that photographers, long obsessed with the aging of paper, have become more invested in maintaining a connection to the history of the medium?

DH: While photobooks have had a growing collector’s market for decades, yes, I think that the Internet has played a huge role in the rise in the market. And it has played a correlative role in the interest in photography books. The publication of books like Andrew Roth’s Book of 101 Books, and the two Martin Parr and Gerry Badger volumes were extremely important in creating that interest. Market and interest are different things. The content of those books was created just ahead of the curve of the Internet marketplace.

Your suggested link between the “dematerialization” of images and the “history of the medium” as represented by photobooks is interesting, but not the full story in my opinion. What digital has done, and by digital I mean digital images and our being able to place them on, and send them around, the Internet, is to open up more possibilities for the medium. There are actually now more material ways to make a photograph, not less (as suggested by the word dematerialized). And while there is a heightened interest in some of the great photobooks of the past, there is more of a frenzy around everyone making books now, thanks to digital. So I don’t think book-making today is about a connection to the past so much as a flourishing of something very current. In many ways, the possibilities of digital print-on-demand have fed that.

JB: “Who do you want to reach, and what type of book will best access that audience?” is a direct question that you pose to your readers in the book.  It’s a great point of entry to the process, and one that I think underpins the message of this book.  The theme of asking difficult questions of oneself recurs throughout.  So, allow me to turn it back to you. Your audience is very clear here. (Photographers.) I’m more curious about the why.  Why did you want to publish this book, and why now?

DH & MVS: We wanted to publish a book that would be useful to photographers of all backgrounds and aspirations. Our column, which was written for the photo-eye Booklist (2004-2007) was successful and got people thinking about and talking about bringing their work to publication. Some of the updates include increased options for print on demand, the growing market for limited-edition books and e-marketing.  We wanted to extend that conversation and expand the audience.

JB:  You address your reader directly in this book.  Why did you choose to adopt that format?

DH:  It seemed the best way. It’s a book, essentially, about how to do something, so we addressed the people who want to do that something (ie the photographers).

MVS: And the “Industry Voices” featured in our book speak directly to our readers, sharing their area(s) of expertise and advice in a clear, direct way.

JB:  I worked in the restaurant industry for many years, and it was obvious why so many restaurants don’t succeed. The balance of people management, food quality, service principles, attention to detail, graphic design, interior design, marketing, and business savvy are so rarely seen in one person.  So when I read the following quote,  “(Books) are also multifaceted objects requiring a range of skill sets to produce that you alone probably don’t possess,” it resonated.  Do you think that photographers who go the POD route ought to consider bringing in some design or marketing experts to help ensure that the end result is worth the time and effort?

MVS: I admit to seeing many POD books by artists where the design is so bad it actually hurts the work, making a really poor first impression.  I say seek professional help!  A fine example is “My Brother’s War” with photographs by Jessica Hines, book design by Elizabeth Avedon (Blurb 2010)

DH:  The quick answer to your question is yes.. But it’s a yes that is dependent on, again, what type of book do you want to produce, and what are your goals with that particular POD book? The bigger point you bring up is recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and learning how to build a team that can help you accomplish your goals.

JB:  How big do you envision your potential audience?

MVS: All those who wish to produce an illustrated book featuring their artwork.

JB:   How did the two of you divvy up the workload?  Did you write collaboratively, or did each of you take responsibility for different sections of text?

DH & MVS:  It was definitely a collaboration. At the beginning, before we had a clear sense of the final structure of the book, we created sections and each of us took lead on the sections that made sense. For instance, Section 4, The Marketing of Your Book was a natural for Mary Virginia. The First Section, The Photography Book Phenomenon, is an adaptation of a lecture and essay I had given over the past couple years, and therefore is mostly my words. But the whole book is written with a singular voice, which emerged in the authoring and editing process and there are not sections that can be called one or the others.

JB:   Some ideas in this book do seem to transcend the subject matter.  Like “Organization, organization, organization is the only way to stay on track…”  Are each of you genetically pre-disposed to be organized, or is it a skill you have learned and cultivated? And if the latter, do you have any advice on how to improve one’s organizational capacity?

MVS: In my view, being organized speaks to the side of pursuing an art career—and wanting to create work such as a book—that requires you to think like a business. It’s like any business—being efficient, hard working and organized will help you achieve what you want to achieve. That is all.

DH:  If you’re young, beg your parents to impose more discipline and a strong work ethic on you. You’ll thank them later. Advice on being more organized? Ask others to identify how you’re disorganized and then reflect on that, work to change it, and repeat that process. We all need help.

JB:  Given that this book instructs photographers on all the aspects of the physical production, and stresses good typography and design, did you feel additional pressure to perfect the design of this book?

DH:  Additional pressure? No. A natural self-imposed pressure because design is so important? Yes!

MVS: Designers David Chickey and Masumi Shibata brought an extraordinary elegance to our book, for which we are forever grateful.  The fact that readers won’t be able to put it down is due in great part to their design sensibilities.

JB:  This book began as a collaborative column between the two of you that was published in photo-eye Booklist. I haven’t had the opportunity to review that publication, so I was wondering if you might provide a bit of back-story about how the you came to work together?

DH:  When Mary Virginia and I sat down for a break during the Society for Photographic Education (SPE) conference in Newport, Rhode Island, in 2003 to draft an outline for a series of articles titled “Publishing the Photobook” that would run in photo-eye Booklist, we knew that we had the makings of a book. We are first and foremost grateful to Rixon Reed, the owner and director of photo-eye, for encouraging the column from the very beginning. The column ran for a total of twelve installments over three years (2004–07) and was a recurring topic of conversation among photographers wherever we went.

MVS: Like the book, the column began with the concept for your book, and continued in a logical learning path towards the final “Case Studies” from those who had brought their work to publication.  It was timely then, and even more so now.

JB:   Did you consider releasing this information in non-book format, like a password protected website or Ipad application?  Do you have any intention to supplement the printed book with web-based materials?

DH:  We’ve launched a website devoted to our book (, which will continue to grow with some of the resources from the book as well as interviews and articles about photography books not found in the published book.  There is a blog within our website, too, where we will inform our readers of upcoming events, book festivals, competitions and more.  We want people to come to the website for lots of reasons.

MVS: We wanted to partner with a traditional publisher for a variety of reasons. Princeton Architectural Press (our first choice!)  has a great brand, particularly for the type of book this is. They also have an amazing distribution arrangement with Chronicle Books and we felt like they would be able to get this book out into the world in a big way! The content of our book draws heavily on visuals, and we haven’t yet seen many good e-books that work for illustrated books. An iPad-specific book would be interesting, but the audience for this book is pretty specific, and again, we’re not sure enough people would purchase the book just for the iPad. (A Kindle version would do a disservice to the book, design- and content-wise. Kindles are great for text-only books.)

JB:   The book makes a regular distinction between books on subject matters with wide appeal versus artist monographs based upon the reputation of the artist.  Given the larger sales potential of the former, would you encourage photographers to consider ways to tailor their work to appeal to larger markets?

DH:  Maybe. I would primarily encourage photographers to simply be aware of that distinction and set out to make the work and a book that best satisfies their own personal goals, whatever those may be. If you find there are subject-specific audiences likely to be interested in your book, market to them, as you would naturally want to draw them to your exhibition, your website, your public lectures and more. In my opinion, it is just as hard to make a successful subject-matter driven book as it is to make a successful artist driven book. Both have their own distinct path.  In the end, if you know your audience, and how to reach them, you will stand a better chance of putting your books in their hands.

JB:  How has the nascent cultural shift from paper books to ebooks influenced the process of having this book published?

DH:  There is no ebook version of this book, but we welcome the e-possibilities down the road. Right now, ebooks are more or less restricted to the realm of literature, not illustrated books. If I were to be an oracle, I’d say we’ll see more and more e-book versions of illustrated books. Obviously, Phaidon and a few others are dabbling in this already. Whether they impact a broader population or are limited to the art world is yet to be seen.

JB:   Given the current popularity of Print-on-Demand services, I found the following statement to be an incredibly concise piece of advice to photographers.  “Successful self-publishers are those who are organized and entrepreneurial at heart, who know their audience, can effectively reach that audience, and have the financial and labor resources available to take on numerous roles.”

It seems like most photographers are using POD services to make books to market themselves and their careers, rather than making a book that might sell vigorously.  Do you think, under the above circumstances, that a self-published project can produce a product with viable income stream?

DH:  Quick distinction here: self-published does not strictly equate with print-on-demand (POD). Self-published only implies taking on the role of “publisher” of your project, regardless of the technical means you employ to manifest that project (which could still be offset lithography, POD, Xerox, what-have-you).

MVS: Essential elements (whether published or self-published): clarity of concept, design and production that enhances the work, and a plan to get the books to your audience.  Can a self-published project produce a product with a viable income stream? Absolutely.

JB:  It seems as if the advice in this book could apply to artists working in media beyond photography. Did you consider calling it Publish Your Art Book, and expanding the potential audience?

DH:   That’s the title of our next book.

MVS: And the one after that:  Publish Your Illustrated Book(.com).  But seriously, what we offer the reader in this book could apply to creating a book featuring work created in any medium, to your point.

JB:   Place and time are so crucial to the nature of photography.  This book feels like a snapshot of the Publishing industry as the 21st Century begins to take shape.  Did you feel like you were time-stamping a period of change?

DH:  Perhaps. But the information in this book is written in a way to be useful for years to come. It is not simply an aggregate of information gathered off the Internet. What we make clear in this book is hinted at in the sub-chapter heading, Behind the Editorial Door: Understanding How Publishers Work. The fundamental issues at hand in publishing a book are the same for small and large publishing houses, they are the same whether you’re making an illustrated book or an ebook of a novel.

MVS: While it is true that production techniques and marketing tools will evolve, this book is timeless.  We open a door to the industry that will help you understand how to make decisions in relation to your book.

JB:   Eileen Gittins, the founder of Blurb, is quoted in the book as saying, as a result of the emerging POD market “…I think we are talking about an expansion in the book industry the likes of which we have never seen before.”   Do you agree?

DH:   Totally. All of these new technologies are transforming, once again, the landscape and creating new opportunities. The smart and the creative will find doors opening up to them.

JB:   Again and again, the industry voices included in the book mention the value of teamwork and collaboration, as a book project is almost always a group endeavor.  Would you encourage photographers to burnish their communication skills before embarking on a publishing project?

MVS: You will need to effectively pitch your project in short (soundbite), medium (one page) and long forms (publication proposal), and who better to talk and write about it than you? Our book will help you “speak” the language of publishing, from the front cover to the very last page.

DH:  I’m always for “burnishing communication skills.”

JB:  Rixon Reed, the founder and owner of photo-eye in Santa Fe, is quoted as saying, “…I’d recommend that photographers think realistically about how big their market is before deciding on edition numbers or print runs for their books.  Too many photographers have too many of their self-published books stored in boxes gathering dust in their garages.” One message that pervades your book is that photographers should think clearly about what they want and what they can realistically expect. Do you think it’s hard for photographers to hear the truth about their prospects for a successful book project?

MVS:  If you look at the monographs that stand the test of time, in nearly every case the artist had established their value in the collectible print markets or editorial market prior to the release of those titles, thus building their audience for their forthcoming book(s). You should be networking, attending portfolio reviews and submitting your work to competitions NOW. Today you can build a presence for yourself and your work on the Internet, and those interested in the subject(s) you are exploring are likely to find you as well. If you know your audience (clue to realistic press run), and how to reach them (path to distribution), AND your book falls within their price range, you have a far better chance of getting your books out of storage and into their hands of buyers.

DH: And it’s not just hard for photographers. All publishers are engaged in a gambling game. There is never a way to know precisely how many people will buy any particular book.

MVS:  In summary: no matter if you are published or choose to self-publish, plan on being an active participant in the marketing and distribution of your book.

JB:  Alec Soth is quoted in your book as saying, “A problem I see with print-on-demand is that it can be too easy to reach a sense of accomplishment.  It’s too easy to make a book with that technology, but it doesn’t guarantee that the work is any good.” Your book makes a point of encouraging photographers who are interested in the POD route to consider hiring professionals to help them with different aspects of the process.  Would you agree with Alec that the ease of the process leads to less than stellar productions?

DH:  Certainly. The point to remember, in my opinion, is that a book is not just a group of photographs. It’s a very specific group of photographs that have been edited (often from hundreds of others), have been sequenced in a very particular order, and then surrounded by a design and text and typography and bindings and all of that!

With book making tools so easily accessible (in the form of POD, for instance), ALL of the aspects of making a book still need to be considered. There is a whole industry that has traditionally watched over those aspects. When you take all of that onto your shoulders without having been part of that industry, it’s natural that you’ll unwittingly overlook some of those aspects.

MVS: We do feel that POD is a great way to begin to experience the editing/sequencing of your book-to-be. “Case Study” Lisa M. Robinson speaks to the value of creating unique book dummies periodically as she continued to grow her body of work SNOWBOUND, ultimately allowing her to be more critical of her body of work and better preparing her for the bookmaking process itself.

JB:  Paula McCartney and Alec Soth both mention meeting with publishers at Review Santa Fe.  Among the many options for making initial contact with publishers, do you feel that Portfolio Review events give photographers a better opportunity to jumpstart the publishing process?

DH:  Definitely.

MVS: A 20-minute meeting is a great way to introduce yourself and your work to publishing professionals.  The experience of showing your work at a Portfolio Review event is often referred to as “speed dating”   It is, of course, up to you to follow up and grow those relationships; this year publishers were also at the review tables of PhotoLucida, Palm Springs Photo Festival, FotoFest, PhotoNOLA and more.

DH: At Radius Books, we’ve published at least 5 books with photographers we met at review events (Michael Lundgren, Transfigurations, Renate Aller, Oceanscapes, David Taylor, Working the Line, Janelle Lynch, Los Jardines De Mexico, Colleen Plumb, Animals Are Outside Today.

Mary Virginia Swanson and Darius Himes will be offering an all-day seminar in Santa Fe, NM, on April 9, 2011.  For more information, visit’s Plan To Charge People Money For Consuming Goods, Services Called Bold Business Move

- - Blog News

NEW YORK—In a move that media executives, economic forecasters, and business analysts alike are calling “extremely bold,” put into place a groundbreaking new business model today in which the news website will charge people money to consume the goods and services it provides. “The whole idea of an American business trying to make a profit off of a product its hired professionals create on a daily basis is a truly brave and intrepid strategy,” said media analyst Steve Messner, adding that’s extremely risky new approach to commerce—wherein legal tender must be exchanged in order to receive a desired service—could drastically reduce the publication’s readership.

via The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.