Photography for Artists & Designers

Art & Design 265: Project


Project: Photobook

Week: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | Schedule


Goals & Concept

The Short Version

Develop an artists's statement describing a distinctive formal concept, process concept and/or expressive concept for a series of images.

Conceive, plan, shoot and edit a series of images reflective of that conceptual approach. (18+ images)

Design, lay out and arrange printing of a photo book presenting that theme and those images. (20+ pages; 8"x8" minimum)

Present the book for review and discussion.

Concept Development

In this project, the concept is yours.
What will you shoot?
What do you have to say?

If these were the only images that you shot all semester, the only project added to your porfolio, what would you shoot?

What do you care enough about?
What is important enough, or interesting enough to motivate an entire collection of images?

In its simplest form, concept development involves conceiving and defining your concept, planning your process and your shoots.
Then you shoot your images, edit your images and present your images.
It never works quite that easily.

In practice, you'll pose a tentative project theme — an initial artist's statement.
You'll then plan an initial shoot. Shoot those images. Edit them. And see what's working and what's not.
Then you go back, revise and refine your concept statement. Replan your shoot. And shoot again.
You repeat this until you've got images that successfully engage the viewer and express your theme.


Concept Statements

Formal or Graphic Concept — What do you know about the look of your final images? Will you use intense color? ...grainy, dirty colors? Will you use bold contrast? ...low key images with brilliant focal areas? Will you emphasize shape variations, letterforms, linear movement, progressions?
There are endless forms that you might focus on, or emphasize.

Process or Methodology Concept — For many artists, the way of working itself is vital. A focus on process emphasizes the "how" of creativity, rather than the eventual "what." Process artists trust that their immersion in a method or context or series of steps will lead to novel creative possibilities.
You might explore how you will find your image subjects, how you might shoot them, what sort of post-processing you might use.

Expressive or Content Concept — What do you want to say? What point of view, message or attitude do you want to express?

Artist's Statement: a form of concept statement that defines the intent, motivation and/or message of a particular work or body of work. This summarizes any other concept statements, isolating the issues that are most pertinent to the current body of work.


Initial Series of Images

Shoot and edit a set of images as a draft version of your series in order to test your concepts and methods. Learn what you can from the strengths and weakness of your series. Then revisit your concepts and shoot more images to replace or expand the initial series.

Final Series of Images

How many images?

Assume that 18 images is a minimum. However, your are mainly responsible to comfortably fill your book — the number of images may vary.
You might, for instance, have a book with full-spread images that cover both the left and the right page. In that case, you may need fewer images. You might also, for instance, have a book with many rather small images — with several images per page. In that case, you might need 40 or 50 images to fill your book.

Get your layout of images reviewed before you commit to printing — get feedback from your instuctor on the quantity of images.

The "how many" question is a thematic and a compositional issue — how many does it take to make your statement and complete a sense of wholeness? And, on the other hand, when are there too many images — when does viewing all of the images feel tedious and/or repetitive?


Book Layout and Content

Page Layout

Book Layout

Written Content


Online printing options

Spring 2014 Note: Usually the various photobook printer have aggressive marketing -- discounts available.
As of January '14, Mixbook offers the coupon "50UPBOOK" which claims to offer Up To 50% Off One Photo Book Details: Up to 50% off any 8 1/2 x 11 photo book. Ends 06/01/2014.




Work on your concept statement.
Find some of your existing images to represent what you are considering.
Sketch layouts, value studies of images that you would like to shoot?

Shoot a set of initial images.
You're mainly testing your concept — you're not really aiming for your final images.
Print these and look at them side-by-side. Critique them and get feedback on them. How cohesive are they? What's missing? What's distracting?

Shoot your images.
Select a post-process.
Print a sampling to see how well they print.

Plan your book layout.
Consider background color, page layout, textual content and type issues.
Rough up some of your pages in Illustrator or InDesign.

Select your photobook printing service.
Get familiar with their book layout options.
Start layout. Give yourself time to rearrange and get feedback on your layout.

Plan to upload your completed book in plenty of time to avoid rush shipping charges.



Create a "hard copy" portfolio book with a consistent theme that reflects best your best quality work from this class.
Develop a cohesive, unified set of distinctive images.  Organize and lay out those images for best effect in a book.  Select an online photo book printer and present your finished book for feedback from the class.


Preliminary Photobook Series: 

Goal:  develop a meaningful, thoughtful, personal artist’s statement (concept statement, theme) that will guide the process of shooting, editing and selecting images. 

Work through the image-making process, encountering surprises, setbacks and new ideas.  
Refine and select images that express your approach.  
Present these images for feedback, and deal respectfully and thoughtfully with the feedback received.

a) develop  your concept (theme, artist’s statement) 
b) shoot a set of images based on that your artist’s statement; shoot at least 5x the images that you will actually use. 
c) cull your images down to about 2x the images you will use. 
d) edit these images for viewing. 
e) narrow these images down to a proposed final set of images. 
d) write an essay discussing why these images are being kept -- why are they the ones that best express your theme?  Post this online with your images and get feedback from classmates and others. 
f) respond to (at least) 10 of their comments and suggestions with meaningful explanations, defenses or revisions.




d) Edit images with potential into sets of finished images.
You’ll have to settle on the theme that your images will reflect -- pick one of the themes noted above.
Now start cropping, rotating and editing these images for best effect.
When working in Photoshop, avoid using decorative filters. Do not added elements, or erase elements in any image. Cropping, rotating and limited global color/contrast editing are allowed.

e) Upload to Google+ into “030 Prelim Photobook Series” folder.  Drag that into your Art 265 circle.

f) Describe the traits that unify this set of images.  Write a short (25-75 words) concept statement that describes the visual traits or ideas that this set of images emphasizes.

g) Review and comment* on the photos uploaded by at least 7 other students before class.
* Provide relevant comments (25+ more words) discussing what you see in the photos presented -- comment particularly on what impresses you or what catches your eye.  Comment on what you think might improve the cropping or editing of the presented photos.


Prices are outlined here.

By Tuesday, 8am

Shoot at least 90 images.
Select (at least) 20 of those for editing.
Select 7 of those for G+ presentation as a theme-unified series.

Downsize images to 2Mpix JPGs before upload.

Post to G+ :
Project Photo Album: 030_Prelim Photobook Series

Write an artists statement for the final series.
— Discuss whatever theme or emphases you discovered. You might describe what you found as you surveyed your images in Bridge. What surprised you? How did your direction change as you went?

Write critical comments about the final series images:
— Discuss the strengths of the final images in relation to that theme.


Thursday, before Class

Crit your Peers:
Go to G+ and review what your classmates have uploaded.

For each classmate, go to their 030_Prelim Photobook Series album, and then to their Final Series sub album.

Add comments to at least one image, or to the series as a whole.
Discuss ways in which the series is formally unified — what traits tie the separate images together?
How compositionally successful are the images? What is interesting about them?


Final Day of Class


Final Exam Period



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