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Adventures In Making A Photography Book – Part 1 – Getting Started

The cover of my 2nd  volume of Everybody And Their Mother - Idyllwild, CA.

The cover of my 2nd volume of Everybody And Their Mother – Idyllwild, CA.

Hello Friends and Bloggers,

Tucked neatly in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California is a small village called Idyllwild. The place is quirky and so are the residents. The mayor is a golden retriever. The village mascot is the Idyll-Beast. I have been consumed with producing 2 volumes of photography books of the unique citizens of Idyllwild depicted in their most comfortable surroundings: work, home, or the forest. Free spirits, shop owners, professors, and those down on their luck grace the pages. The series is called Everybody And Their Mother – Idyllwild, CA. 

While the village clearly has a sense of humor, it takes the arts and community very seriously. For the past twenty years, award-winning musicians gather from all over the country for Jazz in the Pines, raising money for students of Idyllwild Arts Academy, the famous high school for international teenagers talented in music, visual arts, fashion design, film, and more. The proceeds of this book are donated to the Gina Genis Scholarship Fund for an Idyllwild Arts student. I am happy to report the books have been successful with brisk sales, and the scholarship fund has a healthy amount in it to aid a worthy student.

Volume 1 of Everybody And Their Mother – Idyllwild, CA (released July 5, 2013) began my journey to document the population of the entire village. Volume 2 (released September 5, 2014) continues the Idyllwild experience.

The front cover of Everybody And Their Mother - Idyllwild, CA Volume 1

The front cover of Everybody And Their Mother – Idyllwild, CA Volume 1

This has been a monumental undertaking of time and finances. Many of my readers are themselves photographers, so I thought you might like to know what publishing a photo book entails.

First, you must have a good idea. Something many people are interested in, to ensure many sales. If your subject matter is too narrow or too eccentric, you are limiting the amount of people who will be willing to buy your book. Save those images to exhibit in more appropriate venues such as museums or galleries. In addition, if your subject matter is something that people can take with their cell phones, such as landscapes or flowers, you need to make sure your images are far superior to what the general public can make, or there is no reason for them to drop hard-earned dollars on your book. Ask yourself this important question: why would anyone pay money for my book? You need a solid answer, and that answer has to be more than “because I want to make a book”. Offer your audience something they cannot do themselves, and are highly interested in.

Second, you need financing. You need money for producing the books, advertising, and shipping. I chose to use a professional printing company rather than a print-on-demand company because I find the quality of print-on-demand far inferior to a pro printer. Let’s break down the differences between the two types of companies.

Ted Gorzny in his apple orchard, from Everybody And Their Mother - Idyllwild, CA Volume 2

Ted Gorzny in his apple orchard, from Everybody And Their Mother – Idyllwild, CA Volume 2

Print-on-demand is convenient. You can order books as your customers place orders with you, saving you up front expenses, and preventing you from spending a lot of money if your books don’t sell. You can even have the print-on-demand company drop ship the book to your customer. This sounds great, but you are giving up two important things: profits and quality.

I printed Economy Portraits through a print-on-demand company. It was fine for this particular book, because it was a document of a project I did as Artist-In-Residence at the Huntington Beach Art Center. It was never intended to be a photography book. The paper from print-on-demand companies is not as good as from a pro printing company.  You do not have a personal contact to speak with because everything is done online. What frustrated me most is that color accuracy is not a priority with these companies. They want you to proof the book on your computer, but I do not recommend this because every computer’s monitor is calibrated differently, and you need to see the book in print to know what it truly looks like. In my case, there were shifts towards yellow or blue, and I had to pay full price for several copies to ask for changes before they got it right. The price of print-on-demand books is expensive. Let’s face it. Most of their customers are not professional photographers. They are people who want to make a book of their child’s birthday party and share it with their relatives and friends. The books are priced for retail, not wholesale, so you cannot mark them up to a price that the average person will be willing to spend on a photography book.

Using a professional printing company is the way to go if you want to produce a high quality fine art photography book for several reasons. Simply said, you have more control of your product. You have a real person to call and talk to when necessary. There are more choices of papers, sizes, and covers. Free proofs assure color accuracy. You have to pay for a specified number of books before you sell them, but the price of the books are far less than print-on-demand. All books are sent to you at once, so you have to ship to customers when they sell, but that costs you less than when the print-on-demand company does it for you. All in all, the results from a professional printing company are far superior to print-on-demand companies. Because the proceeds of my books go to the scholarship fund, price is extremely important. The book has to be affordable to the public, and my profits need to be such that I can recover my production, advertising, and shipping costs and have money left over to fund the scholarship.

Kenna Dahleen watering her vegetable garden in Everybody And Their Mother - Idyllwild, CA Volume 2

Kenna Dahleen watering her vegetable garden in Everybody And Their Mother – Idyllwild, CA Volume 2

My next post will contain information on how to choose a printing company, overseas vs. America printing, timelines, and more.

Guy Tal Quote About Landscape Photography #1

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Grand Tetons River and Waterfall

Grand Tetons River and Waterfall by Gina Genis


The beautiful scenery is there, but it cares not for pleasing composition or the quality of light at any moment in time. This is where the artist comes in, arranging in a frame the scattered elements into a story, anticipating and chasing the light, bringing it all together to create an evocative image capable of communicating the visual experience and impressing the grandeur of a fleeting moment on viewers for generations to come.

- Guy Tal contemporary photographer

Guy Tal, photographer

Guy Tal, photographer



Happy New Year Photos From Around The World 2014

New Year 2014 Times SquareHappy New Year to my friends and followers. I thought you would like to see these exciting photos from the celebrations around the world. I hope 2014 will inspire you to new heights in your personal and professional lives.


Happy New Year To You 2014

Gina Genis Photo of a Blue Martini

Gina Genis Photo of a Blue Martini

Wishing you a New Year filled with adventure, discovery, success, and joy. A fresh start is here. Enjoy, my friends.

David Hockney Quote #1

David Hockney collage photograph

David Hockney collage photograph

All religions are about social control. The church, when it had social control, commissioned paintings, which were made using lenses and when it stopped commissioning images, its power declined, slowly. Social control today is in the media—and based on photography. The continuum is the mirrors and lenses.

David Hockney, Artist, b. 1937, Bradford, England, currently living in Los Angeles.

“Family Of Man” – Historic Photograph Exhibit Returns

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The Family of Man, a historic photographic show that was first exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955, has returned to life at a castle in Luxembourg.

Edward Steichen curated The Family Of Man with 503 photographs from all over the world. After the Museum of Modern Art show, the exhibit went on to travel around the world. It has been seen by more than 10 million people and is considered the most successful photographic show of all time.

To read more about new The Family Of Man show and see some images, click here.


Bert Stern, Iconic Photographer Dies

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Bert Stern image of Marilyn Monroe

Bert Stern image of Marilyn Monroe

Photographer Bert Stern, famous the world over for his images of celebrities and commercial work, died on June 25, 2013, at the age of 83. He captured Marilyn Monroe only six weeks before she died in what is now called The Last Sitting. Stern photographed Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, and Marlon Brando, among others.

Bert Stern image of Brigitte Bardot

Bert Stern image of Brigitte Bardot

Bert Stern image of Drew Barrymore

Bert Stern image of Drew Barrymore



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