Tag Archives: books

It’s All About the Book

I love making photo books. I have hand-made two books of alternative process photography that have appeared in juried shows and one chapbook of poems and self-published 11 books and one magazine. My work has been included by publishers of three books and one magazine. And I have my first accordion file book on the way.

That’s a grand total of 20 books or magazines. I am clearly crazy about photo books.

Five of those books have been made from images I took while traveling. Photo books are a perfect format for travel photos because consuming the book form mirrors the travel experience.


Looking at a photo book is an event with a time and date certain just like your trip.


Turning the pages of a photo book is a very physical experience because to look at it you must hold it in your hands and turn the page with your fingers. Likewise, your trip was very physical because your body had to go somewhere. There is no virtual travel.


Looking at a photo book is intimate. Unlike looking at a photo on the wall, you hold a book within your personal space. What you remember and record from your trip is very personal too. No two sets of travel photos are exactly alike. Your point of view shows up in every frame.


You control the pace as the reader. For the most part, you control the pace of your travels, what you do on which day and in what order.


There’s a continued relationship with the content that makes friends. When friends talk about an upcoming or former trip to say Greece, you can share your book, as a way to share the experience.


Unlike painting as a medium, where there is one, photography naturally enables multiple copies of the same image. So does the book.

Travel photos in a book are not a bound portfolio. The selection of photos is different because the purpose of the book is different. We chose photos that would not go in the portfolio because a photo book is story driven. We chose photos to support a narrative, maybe about the place you visited, and maybe not. Maybe the story is much more about who you are and what you notice than it is about where you went.

If you like making photo books, here are some other posts that will interest you:

Bad Arguments


Engagingly written and beautifully illustrated, Bad Arguments: Learn the Lost Art of Making Sense, is the perfect guide to this political season.

Example: Appeal to Fear: “Mr. Frog lost the election after Mr. Donkey convinced everyone that if Mr. Frog became the school Dean, soon enough, the entire university would be run by frogs.

There’s a lot of argument from personal incredulity going on in the newspapers post-election. Reporters can’t imagine that President-elect Trump would actually fulfill some of his campaign promises so they conclude that they won’t happen.

Ali Almossawi, the author, holds a Masters in Engineering Systems from MIT and a Masters in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon and he’s done a number of data visualization projects. Check his website out.

Endorsed by Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing.net, Kevin Tang of BuzzFeed.com and Lauren Davis of io9.com, I suggest keeping this one handy while reading any kind of news.

Learn Better

How We Learn

How We Learn

I was curious. Learning better seemed like a great skill to have today. So I picked up  Surprising Truth About How, When and Where We Learn and Why it Happens by Benedict Carey (2014). He integrates very old (1874) and newer studies (up to 2012) about various learning topics. I read the book, despaired of remembering all the conclusions, and then found a handy-dandy Appendix with the summary of the most important points.

Here are my 5 favorites out of 11 conclusions:

  1. Mix it up. As a dedicated generalist I worried that focusing on many areas like trail running, choir, writing and photography would cut my skills in each. But it turns out that focused practice in one area limits our development of each skill. “Mixing or ‘interleaving’ multiple skills in a practice session, by contrast, sharpens our grasp of all of them.” So pausing on a trail run to rehearse the chorus of a new song or take a photograph may actually improve my skills. Action thought: Just enjoy all those various interests.
  2. Interruption is percolation time. Some of my creative projects take a long time to finish. The painting that I am working on has taken a few months and I have a few months to go.  It turns out that “stopping work on a big, complicated presentation, term paper, or composition activates the project in your mind, and you’ll begin to see and hear all sorts of things in your daily life that are relevant.” And, what this means is, I need to start early on large creative projects to leave time to walk away. Action thought: Start early and walk away. 
  3. Self test is best. I’ve recorded my work presentation practice and watched it back. It turns out that self-testing, like this, is one of the highest ROI study techniques there is. “Self-examination improves retention and comprehension for more than an equal amount of review time.” Explaining something to someone else is a form of self-test. Action thought: Keep recording my presentations and watching them back. 
  4. Space your study time. I hadn’t yet figured out how to best learn new choir songs. This helped. “Breaking up study or practice time – dividing it into two or three sessions instead of one – is far more effective than concentrating it.  It works because you have to dig up and restore what you learned the previous session and this improves memory. Action thought: Work time into the schedule of a project to walk away. 
  5. Memory is a muscle. Just like our muscles, it needs a little “rest” aka time to forget in between study times or jam sessions, to build stronger memories. “The brain can sharpen a memory only after some forgetting has occurred.” Action thought: Work time into the schedule of a project to walk away. 

If you like to follow the ebb and flow of the research and the connections between on these and similar topics, I recommend reading Carey’s book. If you just want a few of the key takeaways without the journey, read  his Appendix. Either way, you’ll learn better, more efficiently and deeper.