My first picture book

Making a book is like making a t-shirt. It costs loads of money but it’s really easy to do.

In January and April 2010 I was in Rome, Italy and collected quite a few snaps. I whittled the 3,000 or so down to 800 to less than 200 that I edited and popped up on flickr, after which, it seemed silly not to spend an afternoon choosing a final bunch and arranging them in a book.

I used the Blurb Book Smart software which was mega easy to suss out. I didn’t really use it in any far out way, so don’t know what the limitations are in terms of customisation when compared to doing the whole thing manually in Quark or whatever. This is not really a fair comparison though, as so many of the tricky bits (like bleed, spine alignment, etc) have been sorted out for you already in the Book Smart software.

My main challenge was purely aesthetic. Although I have made a book before (as a birthday gift for someone), I still found it tricky to maintain a restrained look that gave room for the photographs to speak for themselves. This has also been true of my photo-taking where I have only recently managed to try composing shots that are not full of colour which then get pumped to the max in Photoshop. Aside from a few black and white shots there is only one or two of these modest, desaturated shots included in the book. It is something I shall endeavour to work on.

P.S. For anyone interested in making a book using Blurb; perhaps it’s blatantly obvious for everyone else but it took me a while to work out how to do a double page spread of a single image using the BookSmart software. The best work around I could come up with was to load up the same image on adjacent pages, zoom in to taste and move the left picture to only show it’s left half and the right picture to only show it’s right half. I found that the software doesn’t do a great job of illustrating how much of the image will be lost in the fold to binding and so a bit of bleed (perhaps a centre metre or two) proved helpful.

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