Guest Editorial – T.W. Moore
I recently had the opportunity to take Douglas Stockdale’s workshop, Developing a Creative Photo Book through Medium Festival of Photography in San Diego. The weekend workshop goal was to “develop a working book dummy while exploring the creative possibilities of the photo book.” With zero experience in making books, I liked this practical approach while at the same time providing a wider aesthetic context for this format.
While I live on the east coast, I thought it would be worth the trip to San Diego to join the group (and to escape the cold!). I was not disappointed. In fact, it was one of the better workshops I have taken over the years. Stockdale is an excellent instructor – very warm, supportive, engaging – not to mention entertaining! He did not overwhelm us with too many technical considerations. To get things started for inspiration, the participants (from a wide variety of backgrounds) were asked to share their favorite photography books with the group.
From there we explored the dummy making process – with each workshop participant working with 20+ small photographs they brought to begin the sequencing process. Stockdale’s low-tech approach was perfect – we worked with real materials; prints, paper, scissors, markers, tape, thread, etc. – and spent no time looking at software programs.
Getting down to work with our photographs, we also began to play – asking the question “what if?” What if I juxtaposed these two images? What if I used this kind of book binding? What if I used this kind of paper or this kind of cover? I chose to work with a group of photographs, titled the Shroud series (below), that I made back in the 1980’s during the AIDS crisis. These were exhibited at the time, but I wanted to re-visit these images using a new format.
After some experimenting and group feedback, we each walked away with our first book dummy by the end of the workshop. We also took away much practical information on available resources such as printers, various modes of publishing, book markets, and fairs.
Overall, Stockdale created a supportive and non-judgmental setting where it was okay to make mistakes and try new approaches. I left convinced that the book format is a compelling companion to exhibiting – and can reach even more and different audiences. Special thanks to Scott Davis and the Medium Festival of Photography for offering this excellent workshop!
Shrouds copyright T.W. Moore