For years now, I've wanted to publish a book, but I haven't moved on it. According to Dan Miller, experts tell us that 81% of Americans want to write a book. So I'm definitely in the majority.
Why write a book? Dan lists 4 reasons: for communication, fame, fortune and/or credibility. He didn't really list expression but I think he would put it in communication if pressed. For me, it's not the fame (well, maybe among friends and family), nor the fortune (I don't think being a writer is a sure route to a fortune) and it's not the credibility, or at least I don't think so. It's about expressing and communicating.
Yes, but expressing and communicating about what? For years I've thought that a book of......photographs of......f...l...o...w....e...r..s, yes those, would be wonderful BUT I've talked myself out of it over and over again. First, because I didn't know how to start the ginormous task of pulling together the huge pile of photos that it would take to make an actual book. Second, because I thought NO ONE would bother to look at a book of flowers. Talk about an overpopulated and trivialized genre!
However, while recently in Portland, I visited an exhibit at the Froelick Gallery of photographer Ron Von Dongen's work, and, guess what I found? He has published no less than 12, count them, twelve, books, oh, actually huge monographs, of nothing but f....l....o....w....e....r....s!!!!!!! So clearly, I was wrong.
At about this same time, I started Playing Big with Tara Mohr in part because Playing Big is for you if "You feel a calling or a creative inspiration - but you aren't moving forward with it as powerfully as you could." I resonated with that and one of her early journaling questions had to do with honoring your callings or assignments and jumping in. So I took another look at Ron's flowers.
Why did people pay attention to his flower photos? I figured I could learn from a master who had managed to work with Nazraeli Press to publish so many.......monographs. So I observed:
- Form: 1. The background of the photo is always lighter on high key and darker on low key photos with white on white and black on black 2. For color he uses analogous color contrast and complementary contrast. 3. He uses consistently very shallow depth of field
- Content: 1. Usually one or two flowers 2. One group of 3 consisted of photos of pairs 3. Another group of 3 consisted of photos of flowers that bloom in bunches of tiny blossoms
- Text: 1. The text is always on the left page, centered, 1/3 down, followed by 1 to 3 photographs. 2. The titles include the botanical name, the common name where available, the year of the negative and a roman numeral for the plate number
But, after going on like this for some time, I realized that none of that observed stuff is really the stuff that makes work "valuable", whatever that means. From my perspective, right now, it means "the work is of enough value to spend time and energy and love working on." That pronouncement of value comes only from inside, from inside me. And I made it!
So I'm moving. I'm making my first book, my book of flowers.