Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Book

I am finishing up the almost impossible task of putting together my "portrait" book for the first time. A necessary nightmare of over-thinking and prioritizing that I must live through.

With an eye towards picking and sequencing between 20-30 shots, I chose 65 from the archives, which in and of itself was an interesting experience. For that I just relied on my "gut" instinct to say "I like that one."

And that was the end of my ability to move any further.

So off I went to Mustang Sally's to meet my mentor, Rich, so he could do the dirty work and pick the first edit. My criteria were only that I wanted the shots to be perceived as "portraits" and since this was going to be a commercial book, I wanted to limit the inclusion of too much nudity.

It was fascinating watching him go through the shots like he was dealing cards - a yes pile, a no pile and a maybe pile. Then from the yes pile we started to sequence them, adding shots as needed from the maybe pile and occasionally the no pile...

We tried to get a rhythm going from shot to shot and also within the two shots together when any given page was open. Two furniture shots together - too much? At first no, but then after looking at it for another hour - yes. Two many "headshots" together? Yes.

So we got it like we liked it after I added some shots back in (more color!) and rearranged some couplets, which Rich promptly re-rearranged.

Then the lovely and talented Ms. Anouk Morgan showed up and I let her pick as well. I ALWAYS respect a woman's opinion, and with Anouk, I got the double bonus of a young woman's opinion. She went for the core images that Rich had chosen, but her fringe images were more controversial, more odd and with more nudity.

Quite the evening seeing your life's work bandied about like pick-up-sticks, and very, very liberating in an ego-less way.

Thanks Rich and Anouk!

By the way, I changed everything back to the way I wanted it in the first place...

Off to the lab.


Anonymous said...

I like the selections on your website James, they are consistent.

bt said...


I was told once that "we are too close to our work to select our own groupings for exhibit or publication."

For what it's worth from a guy in the former Motor City.


Toby Roan said...

I once showed my book to one of Advertising's real genius types. A real heavy hitter. He gave me a lot of wonderful criticism and advice -- along with this: "Your book is only as good as the worst thing in it."

The more I think about it, the scarier those words get. "...only as good as the worst thing." Cripes!

I dusted this quote off the other day when someone at the agency wanted to put a piece of poo in the agency portfolio. It worked.