Sunday, June 26, 2016

An Exercise/Project

This is a project. If you find yourself always on the cusp of starting but somehow never quite ready, this might push you over. This is partly based on Alain Briot's idea of small/short projects. It is an exercise which produces a final result of which, ideally, you can be proud.

No particular part of this is important. Change what you like. I provide precise details only so that if you are stumped, you've got a specific answer to fall back on. Make ten pictures if you like, but if you don't know how many, use six. If you'd prefer to use PVA glue, feel free. Don't know what to use? Use photo mounting spray adhesive. Etc.

You will need:

Card stock. About 150 pound paper (200gsm), or heavier. Seven rectangles 6x8 inches (15cm x 20cm). You can buy a single sheet of watercolor paper, for instance, and cut it up.

One small can of photo mount spray adhesive. 3m photo mount. Super 77. Whatever is available.

String. Just a couple inches.

A pencil.

A good eraser.

Optional: a black marker.

Now find an object that interests you, that you have some feeling toward. It need not be profound. You need to be able to access the object over a couple of days.

Day one: pick out your object, look at it, think about it. How do you feel about it? How might you depict that? Ponder these questions off and on during the day. Then sleep on it.

Day two: shoot. You can go back to your object as often as you like, but you must shoot today and only today. Take at least a couple dozen pictures.

Day three: sort through your pictures, put together 6 photos that tell the story, that express what you want to express. This isn't a greatest hits, this is a sequence. If the best three individual photos just don't work with other photos, dump 'em.

Send those six photos off to wherever the place is that will deliver 4x6 inch prints (10cm x 15cm) the most quickly. We don't care about quality, archival anything, just speed. Print them yourself if you want, but do not fuss endlessly over details if you do. Get the prints made quickly.

Pick up your prints.

Lightly mark in pencil on six pieces of card stock whatever marks will help you place the prints centered. Follow the instructions on the photo mount adhesive can. If you've never done it before you may want to print a couple extras to practice on. Move briskly but without haste, it's not as hard as it seems, and you have more time than you think.

Allow adhesive to cure, and then erase pencil marks.

Stack your finished mounted prints, in the correct order, with the seventh, unused, piece of card stock on top.

Punch a hole in the corner, through all seven pieces of card stock, about 1/2 an inch (1cm) in from each side. Push the string through and tie a knot to create a short loop on which the card stock pieces hang.

If you like, write a title, authorship, whatever, on that blank top page.

Take the finished book out and leave it somewhere public. A coffee shop, the gym, the grocery store. Abandon the book, don't look back. It belongs now to whomever picks it up. You are finished.

Congratulations, you have printed, published, and distributed a book.

How's it feel?


  1. I like this, especially the part about the "distributing" the finished book.

    Personally, I find mounting spray really annoying to use. I would either print with a wide border or do some sort of hinge mount. But beyond that technical quibble I like the idea.

  2. Holy Cow, this sounds like something even I could do! Thanks for the tip!

    With best regards.