Design, Editorial

The Photobook Revealed

Do you ever have that thing where suddenly everyone you meet is talking about the same thing? It might be hippos or plastic cameras or trucker hats, but suddenly something-or-other is on everyone’s minds. Well, I had that this past week with the idea of the Making of a Photobook.

First, last week, a co-worker and I went to the Photography Book Now symposium. Blurb.com—the service that helps people self-produce their own books of photography—put on this seminar to help its users learn more about what goes into making a great photo book. It happened at Bimbos 365 Club, which leant a rather slinky vibe to an otherwise primarily educational event where book designers, editors, and professional photographers spoke about their part in the making of a book. It was pretty interesting to hear those different jobs dissected and described in detail—because, of course, when you’re working at something you rarely take the time to stop and articulate what it is exactly that you are doing, or how you do what you do—what skills and tricks and crazy weird ways of thinking go into this thing you call “work” and which, in our case, the rest of the world called “books.”

Then, this week, the September issue of Photo District News landed on my desk. And what does it contain but a longish article about how photography projects evolve from the proposal stage to become finished books. And one of the case-studies they dig into on this topic is our very own book Planet Shanghai. There are great interview excerpts with the photographer Justin Guariglia and our until-very-recently-very-own Alan Rapp, the book’s editor, about the process by which this book went from a gleam in a photographer’s eye to a delish little number between two covers.

And speaking of PDN, their website also just posted a great feature about our forthcoming book Right.

And, what the heck, since I’ve clearly veered down the road into shameless self-promotion here today, I’m just going to go whole hog. We’re just pleased as punch that Chronicle was recently nominated for a Lucie award for Photography Book Publisher of the Year for our book Manual Alvarez Bravo: Photopoetry. The Lucies are kind of like the Oscars of the photo world, with a big shmancy ceremony at the Lincoln Center in New York, so this is a pretty neat thing, and we feel special.

Whew! As a person who grew up in one of those self-deprecating families, all of this tooting of one’s own proverbial horn is making me a little lightheaded. I think I will go attend a meeting and maybe eat some rather humbling crackers or something now. You all have a lovely weekend.

Bridget Watson Payne
Assistant Editor

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