A new 8 part miniseries where Ottawa Photographer Tony Fouhse takes us through his new project, from the first photo to the book launch. Tony is an internationally exhibited and collected photographer who was formerly a full time editorial/commercial photographer. These posts originally appeared in his newsletter HYPO which you can subscribe to here to see more of his work visit his website here.

To pre-order Tony’s book go here.

Anatomy Of A Project
Episode Nº 4: Dummy

I made a mini-dummy of the first “final” edit of the project. Showed it to some folks whose opinions I respect. Asked them to pick it apart. And like the good friends they are, they delivered. This sucker needed some changes.

So I made another set of small work prints and pinned them to the big editing board in my studio. (Time to get real.)

Taking the feedback I had received into consideration, over the next 2 or 3 weeks I made dozens of (mostly) small changes. Eventually I arrived at an almost final version of my project. Yes, it was better. Time to make a size-as dummy. This will facilitate (and lead to) the final tweaks to the sequence.

I made size-as prints and stuck them into an Itoya Art Portfolio. At this stage I always use the Itoya because it’s cheap (12 bux). It also has acetate sleeves that make it easy to change the order of the images and/or to swap out photos that don’t work.

I showed it to friends, neighbours and colleagues. Many of them pointed to the same 2 or 3 photos, said they felt wrong. No surprise there, even at this late date I was still trying to use images that didn’t really work (because I wanted them to work).

So I took out those photos, added three different (more useful) ones (that were already in my Possible Selects folder). And, lo and behold, this new version made better sense.

There was also a lot of comment (criticism) along the lines of, “There’s something wrong with the ending, it’s awkward.”

Yes, that final sequence had bothered me all along. I was hoping it would work, but seeing the whole project in the dummy really drove home the fact that the feel and pacing of ending needed a rethink.

So, with a better (different) idea of what the final sequence needed, I combed through every single photo I’d taken for the project. I was looking for something. I knew it was in there somewhere, all I had to do was recognize it.

I pulled out 5 or 6 previously rejected photos, and different versions of some of the images I had used. After making work prints of these “new” photos I began to rework, reimagine and refine the ending. After a few days of frustration and exasperation, I finally figured it out.

I made three changes. First, I used a different version of one of the originally included photos. Below is the removed photo (left) next to the image that replaced it. The removed photo might be a “better” shot, I don’t know. But I do know the photo on the right better suits the sequence.

Then I swapped a photo for a completely different one. Finally, and this will tell you how slow and stubborn I can be, I… well let me back up a bit…

I have a few weird obsessions / compulsions / rules. One of them is I want my photobooks to end with one photo on the left-hand page. Another has to do with numbers – there are “good” numbers and “bad” numbers. These obsessions are, maybe, odd. I don’t know. But they exist in my head and are quite powerful.

As it stood, the book contained 50 photos (a “good” number), and ended with a single image on the left-hand page (also “good”). Problem was . . . the ending wasn’t working.

If I ended with a double spread the book would not only have 51 photos (a “bad” number), it would also end with a photo on a right hand page (also “bad”).

My rules made it inconceivable (impossible!) for me to consider using 51 images, and it never even occurred to me to end the book with a double page spread.

I spent days struggling to make the thing work within these nonsensical constraints.

Finally I realized I was being a complete idiot.

The sequence/book now contains 51 photos and ends with a double page spread. I broke two of my stupid rules and the whole thing is better for it.

It feels done. I feel good.

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