Mind The Gap

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

I have a couple of photography related book projects that should see the light of day by the end of the year and need to prepare the files for printing. To that end over the last week I’ve started aggregating the materials that I’ll need to start teaching myself the rudiments of InDesign. Now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and stalling beginning the learning process.

I love books, so much so that my kids have asked me on more than one occasion whether I’m going to open a library, and being in a position to make my own is an amazing opportunity. But here’s the thing, I’ve spent a long time learning how to make my camera do what I want it to do which meant a long period of knowing what it was that I liked but not being able to get there – the Ira Glass video above is an apt description of this gap.

Does this apply to book design? Certainly, there are lots of tiny decisions that have to be made from small typographic questions such as whether or not to use ‘&’ in the title and what font to use to larger layout questions. Without getting these right the result will be jarring even if you couldn’t quite put your finger on what the problem is. Your work will suffer by how it’s presented.

While the answer of course is to make lots of books and test them in a safe environment, what to do for projects where you don’t have the time for those cycles of improvement?

I’m tempted to look for a book designer that I can work with to help me bring my first projects to life while I learn the rudiments of the software and the design process so that the books that I make present my work in the strongest way possible. What would you do?

2 thoughts on “Mind The Gap

  1. I’m also interested in book design and have the same questions as you regarding where to start. Luckily I’ve been working with a couple of people at Rear Curtain on books they plan to release so I’ve been able to be a spectator of sorts to the process. One thing I’ve learned is that it is a lot slower process than most people take especially if you are doing it for the first time. Being in a hurry can be the kiss of death. You can only do your first book once and I believe working with a book designer is essential. I know of a case where a photographer thought he could do it all on his own and you are right, the work suffered because of how it was presented (although there was some debate whether the work should have even been made into a book in the first place).

    • Hi Sabrina,

      I hope all is well. Many thanks for your thoughtful comment here.

      A great learning opportunity to be able to look over the shoulder of someone going through the process of putting a book together.

      I’m increasingly inclined to find someone who I can work through the process with so that I’m going to end up with something that’s strong, while experimenting with short 10 image books that I can easily make at home.

      Thanks again!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s