Ciociaria – evaluating the dummy layout selections

Perhaps one of the more dynamic situations during the later phase of photobook development is the selection, pairing and sequencing of the photographs with the book dummy in preparation for the final design meeting. I recall the observations made about Kiyoshi Suzuki’s book dummies, which were his constant companion and that over time became very worn, dog-eared and notated during this phase of his photobook development.

Likewise, my book dummy does travel with me, sometimes dormant, other times when I get a bug in my pants, I pour over the images examining and testing the selection, pairing and sequencing. Then I return to my artistic statement, which is not morphing into a potential afterword for the book, to check back and rethink both the dummy as well as my artistic statement. Am I really getting to the heart and soul of my concept? 

The photographs move in and out of the dummy, the pairing varies as does the sequencing. And occasionally, I lay the whole mess out in the living room in an attempt to gain a wider perspective. In this case, I have two columns, starting in the upper left corner with the first images and then sequencing them down as they might appear in the book until I run out of room, then start at the top again. Likewise, I lay out the photographs that were almost considered, to evaluate them one more time. Did I remove them from the dummy prematurely? Might they pair up with another image that I have recently added to the layout? Is the body of work stronger or weaker for the inclusion or exclusion?? So the process continues and in this case, some photographs, extremely interesting in as a singular image, were not working in this context, so back on the side lines in the back-up pile. Next morning, back down stairs and walk the line, looking, examining, thinking and reflecting.

At the end of this excercise, I have the 50 spreads of paired or singular images, as well as alternative images for those that made the cut, which I then reassemble back into the condensed book dummy. And back into my side bag to continue the journey, which for this book is quickly coming to an end, as the beginning of August I meet with the publisher and book designer in Rome to finalize the book. My oh my, time flies.

With the final design now pending, hopefully agreement on the book’s cover image, then I start shifting my attention to the printing and binding as well as the slip cover design for the limited edition. And now is the time to start thinking of book promotion in conjunction with book sales, book signings and possible exhibitions. And maybe starting an interest list for those who might consider purchasing the book, especially since the amount of available books is already rapidly dwindling due to early commitments, such as a corporate sponsor purchasing 20% of the books.

best regards, Doug

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