June 7, 2016
by Matthew Schmidt
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Welcome MPIX as a new Sponsor!

How does he do it, asked Jeff?  Year after year Alex creates these wonderful portfolios at the camera club.  How does he come up with such great subjects?  And where does he find the time to take all the photos? 

Ashley says, “I don’t know, but I really want to learn what makes Alex tick.

How To Create a Book

Every year about 80% of us who sign up do not complete a book.  The reasons are unique to each case, but most of them fall into the category of not knowing what to do or where to start.

We want everyone participating in SoFoBoMo to complete a book.  And we want everyone to enjoy doing it.  That is why we’ve expanded our support network this year.

Here at SoFoBoMo, we’ve all lived through the pain of not knowing what to do to create our photo book.  That is why we feel that we are well suited to help you.  You CAN work through the issues.  We will help you.

There is nothing stopping you from creating your vision, except your own self-doubt.

We’ve broken the process down for you.  We will provide you with feedback and motivation to get through.  No matter where you a stuck, we can get someone to provide help.

Having trouble choosing a subject?  We’ll be your sounding board.

Don’t know how to create an e-book?  We’ll help you identify an application.

Can’t get the photos off your phone?  We can point you to the right application and instructions.

Have a question we haven’t covered?  Post it on our forum.

Want to print your final book?  We’ve made a fantastic deal with MPIX.

MPIX as a SponsorMPIX Logo

This year MPIX has agreed to produce photo books for SoFoBoMoer’s at a 25% discount.  Just register for SoFoBoMo 2016 and we’ll add your email to the list at MPIX.

October 13, 2014
by admin
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Preparation for SoFoBoMo

“Difficulty Level: Hard, not technically but in all the things that need to be done in a short period of time ”
– Niels Henrikson

Here is a great blog post I found by Niels Henrikson his preparation before SoFoBoMo preparation. Like everything else in life, a challenge is more easily and confidently encountered when you are prepared for it. And SoFoBoMo is no different. However, as different as people are, their approaches differ as well.

Niel’s strategy is interesting, and very organized. He splits the 31 days into 4 weeks, each week dedicated to one activity.
Here is what he suggests doing each week:
Week 1: Acquiring images
Week 2: Processing the images
Week 3: Editing and sequencing the images
Week 4: Publishing the pdf, uploading it to sofobomo.com and patting yourself on the back You are done!

This outline here is a super short summary. You should go read his full blog entry here, with detailed information on each phase and some tips.
Link: http://niels-henriksen.blogspot.com/2010/02/10-great-photography-projects-sofobomo.html

“If a photo is worth a thousand words, then a collection of ten (10) images is a short story and 35 images must be a full novel.”
– Niels Henrikson

October 13, 2014
by admin
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SoFoBoMo: remembering the first time

Written by and copyright belongs to – ghostland

My first participation in SoFoBoMo took place in 2011, when I produced two books within my chosen fuzzy month. Unfortunately, 2011 also marked the last year of the original SoFoBoMo.

I was drawn to SoFoBoMo for a number of reasons. I’m hugely interested in photography. I love books. I used to be a book designer. I love the concept of creating everything in one month.

The first thing I did (actually the second, after registering to take part in SoFoBoMo 2011) was to look at what other photographers had produced in previous years. There was a real mixture of works. There were some examples of people really thinking about how the project should fit together as a book. Others were obviously more concerned with the photographic image than with the book, resulting often in the equivalent of a PDF slideshow. This is not a good thing or a bad thing. We all have our own skills that we bring to the project. The important thing for me was that everyone, regardless of their skill level as a photographer or designer, had committed a month of their life to producing a visual document that they were willing to share with others through SoFoBoMo.

I had a few months before SoFoBoMo began during which I tried to conceive a worthwhile project, something I could proudly point at and say ‘I made that’. It was tough. I had no idea how I would take at least 35 photographs that fit together in some sort of coherent theme. Then I thought about discarding thematic considerations. What if I just took whatever pictures I wanted? That was my starting point for The Black Hill. (The title was about the first thing the project had. A small distance from my home is a rough track, called Black Hill Lane. The sign was partly obscured by brambles but I photographed it and that became my inspiration).

Having decided to take a wide variety of photographs for the project I next had to find a way to fit them together, so they had a flow and a coherence to them. I didn’t want it looking like a random scrapbook thing. Having arrived at SoFoBoMo via the good folks of NaNoWriMo, I thought there might be another story in me yet. So I decided that the best approach for my book would be to weave a story though the pictures. In essence, to make an illustrated storybook.

I spent a while looking at some more examples of books from previous years. I couldn’t find a single instance of what I was planning to do. Did I ever think that I shouldn’t do what I was planning just because no-one else appeared to have done it? No, absolutely not.

So. A story called The Black Hill. What kind of a story? I had no idea. Whenever I start creative projects of this nature I usually ask that they discover something for me. In this case, I asked the photographs I took to discover the story for me. Before each set of photographs was taken I had no story, no preconceived direction for the narrative. This was all provided by the images themselves.

I planned to use the images in such a way that any image used individually would occupy either a whole single page or a double page spread, and would be a full-bleed image.

And then I considered the treatment of type. Type on image. This was the one element I had not found in any of the previous examples; the one thing that no-one else appeared to have done. For the photographic purists this may well be considered an act of heresy. However, this is no reason not to do it. I was making an illustrated story book after all.

From a photographic perspective, creating a book in this manner does impact the way in which you take your photographs. I learned to shoot certain images editorially, which is to say that I left a space for type within the image itself. This is usually achieved by framing each shot so that there is a kind of ‘dead space’ where nothing is happening visually. At times like this your photographic eye is composing very deliberate ‘rule of thirds’ pictures. This wasn’t true for all shots of course. The type on some pictures was used in a more dynamic way, becoming almost an integral part of the image itself. What I was hoping to achieve was a balance between type and image.

The Black Hill was finished after about three weeks, mainly because I was fortunate enough to visit a couple of locations that provided a lot of varied photographic opportunities which inspired the story progression throughout the book. I think that without these lucky excursions I would have struggled to come up with enough good images to enable completion of the project.

The actual construction of the book began once I had the story finished, which by default meant that I had all the images necessary to tell it. Because for a number of years I had been a professional book designer, I used QuarkXpress to construct the book. I opted for a portrait format and decided to use only one typeface throughout. Beyond these regular features however, it was a little more freeform with the look of each page being dictated by the image I chose to display on it.

When it was all finished I had to create a PDF in order to post it to the SoFoBoMo site. I had decided right from the beginning that unlike many who had taken part in previous years, my book would not be available in printed form. I wanted it to be a digital book for the digital age. This meant of course that I was able to resize images at 72dpi, rather than the usual 300dpi required for book printing.

Was I pleased with The Black Hill after it was all over? I think for the most part it fulfilled my expectation for it when I first conceived the idea to produce an illustrated storybook. It was a hugely enjoyable experience that involved a mix of photographic and design elements and plenty of problem solving along the way. And I’m still pleased to be able to point at the book and say ‘I made that’.

As I said at the start of all this, SoFoBoMo breathed it’s last in 2011. However, some ideas are so good that they refuse to stay away. SoFoBoMo is one of those ideas, and here we are in 2014 gearing ourselves up to produce more photographs and more books. Others, more eloquent than I, have written about why all photographers should participate in SoFoBoMo. I can only endorse what they have to say and merely add my own personal thought that you should really grab the opportunity that SoFoBoMo provides for your photography to discover a story for you too.

12 October 2014

October 10, 2014
by admin
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Why photography projects are important

You might be wondering why you should consider joining SoFoBoMo. Why on earth would anybody want to make photo books? Why can’t I just improve my technical skills, and make work on individual photos? What will I gain in a project – taking photographs for a project, making a book etc? It sure sounds like a lot of effort. But what will I gain from it?

Well, I have an extremely well written article for you from well known photographer Alain Briot.

He says “Projects are important in the context of expressing a personal vision because vision is best demonstrated through a series of photographs rather than through single images.

You should read the full article here at Luminous Landscape:
Why Photography Projects are Important by Alain Briot at the Luminous Landscape.

October 9, 2014
by admin
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SoFoBoMo Inspiration – Doug Stockdale, 2011

This post is a repost. Original post by Doug Stockdale found in  http://singularimages.wordpress.com/
More about Doug Stockdale at http://www.douglasstockdale.com/
Link to original article (April 8, 2011) – http://singularimages.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/sofobomo-2011-dates-announced/

************************

Copyright Douglas Stockdale

I just received an update from Colin Jago that SoFoBoMo 2011 dates have been announced for the 2011 event: July 1 through August 31st. I also posted a brief announcement on The PhotoBook, so some more information available there as well.

In a case of rust remover for those not familiar with this blog, I was one of the many who supported Paul Butzi when he kicked off this annual event in 2009. I finished two books in 2009, one of which “Sharpening Photographs for POD Printing” is in its second edition on Blurb. Oh yeah, this photo-tech book was developed in two days. Now you might understand why it required a second edition, the first edition was that bad. All of my SoFoBoMo blogging related to my participation in 2009 is available through the catagory button in the right panel.

So much has happened during these subsequent years, so I can provide my perspective and thoughts on SoFoBoMo. Firstly, I think SoFoBoMo is an excellent opportunity to get fully engaged and find out what it means to put together a photobook if you have never done this before. It helps you get past the procrastination stage, and experience actualizing a concept and vision, what it means to layout a book and experience with type and text, as well as sequencing and pairing of photographs into a meaningful narrative. A collection of photographs that are assembled into a book is not the same as singular images, individual prints or a gallery exhibition.

In 2009 I ran into technical hurdles (self imposed don’t ya know) that made my final book (Places Amongst Us) a not so great object, although an extremely educational experience. I was shooting film, using a pro-lab to process and then subsequently scanning each negative on my film scanner, which required a ton of spotting and tweaking. So after running out of time with film, I had to quickly re-shoot the entire book in digital and finalize the book. sheeeese.

Today, I am using full frame digital and I feel very comfortable with a full digital workflow. So I just might do SoFoBoMo again this year. Although I left the 2009 Places Amongst Us on Blurb for about a month (sold three copies, so a really limited edition book), I thought it so bad that I deleted it. Today, I would consider this a private book on Blurb and use the Blurb books for a book dummy to provide book submissions or discussions with galleries. Since I still have the Blurb book file, this is a possibility. Meanwhile, I continue to think about the concept behind the project Places Amongst Us  and think that I would do it a little differently. I would also photograph the project differently and able to work on it while I am in Europe.

My recommendation is if you think that you want to participate, use the time now to think, think, think, and then plan, plan, plan. Yes think pre-visualization about your concept and how you want to visualize it. For me, I will plan to photograph the entire project in one day, maybe two, on the very first day of the event. I have found that even when you have all of the planning, photographing can change things, sometimes in a delightful way that was unanticipated. Likewise, it takes me a long time to get the sequencing and page pairing figured out. BTW, there is nothing that does not permits to use yours friends help, especially if they are book designers!

For me, I also find that as I work on laying out the photographs in the book design, I usually need to re-photograph something, and so photographing on day-one provides the extra time if needed. Also, for the planning, that also means that you can start thinking about how you might use the book layout options if you are using software like Blurb.

At this rate, I think I just might participate in SoFoBoMo for 2011, but that means looking at the available dates and what my options are regarding my European travel schedule. Likewise, I hope you give it some serious thought as well!

Best regards, Doug

October 8, 2014
by admin
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What can I do before SoFoBoMo starts?

Here we are signed up for SoFoBoMo, waiting for the fuzzy month to start. Before the month starts, here are some things you can do to make your SoFoBoMo effort easier / more successful.
Basically, planning your project, getting organized with the equipment, with the tools – this is not a part of the 31 day fuzzy month, and can be done now.

Here is a list of items.

1. Decide on the topic for your SoFoBoMo project.
2. Then decide on a backup topic, easier and more accessible than the first one, just in case.
3. Scout your location and take some test shots.
4. Visualize how your project is going to look. Do you care about the font? Do you plan to have a white background or a black background or colored? OR are your images going to cover the entire page?
5. Do you plan to pair quotes with photos? If so, make a database of quotes which you can look at and select from later.
6. Do you plan to pair music with photos? If so, make a database of music which you can look at and select from later.
7. Decide on how you are going to create your actual pdf photo book. What software are you going to use? Adobe InDesign? Microsoft Word? Lightroom? iPhoto? Scribus? a pdf maker?
8. Fire up your program and create a dummy pdf so you don’t have to slave over the technical nitty gritties later.
9. If necessary, see tutorials and read up on how to use the software you have chosen.
10. Maybe read up on editing and sequencing.
11. Maybe read up on good book design.
12. Read what other SoFoBoMo participants have to say.

September 27, 2014
by admin
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SoFoBoMo Resources List

This post is a repost. Original blogpost by Suprada Urval found in her blog – Photoblog

Link to original article – http://www.suprada.com/photoblog/archives/1741

This year, I participated in SOFOBOMO 2011 and successfully made (photographed, edited, processed and created ) a pdf ebook within 31 days. The book is called ”After Sunset” and is available as a free download here: After Sunset PDF Ebook.

When I signed up for the project, a few months before the challenge period started, I started looking into the hows and whys of pdf publishing and I found a bunch of resources online. I tried to read up / listen up on how to sequence and edit a photo book, what are the considerations for making a pdf ebook for various monitors and devices and what software to use.

For my desktop publishing software, I found a bunch : Adobe InDesign, Quark Xpress, Scribus, etc. I decided to use Scribus – for the reason that it is a open source software and is available for free.

Here is a list of resources I used:
1. PDF Publishing Workshop – A Visual Workshop from Lenswork – $99
This is a DVD I had purchased about a year ago. It has many hours worth of video tutorials about almost all aspects you can think of – on the topic of making a pdf publication. It takes a novice step by step – from what to consider when making a pdf publication to how to use Adobe InDesign to do that to and how to polish it up for a professional look. Though most of the tutorial is on InDesign, I found many of the concepts useful when using Scribus. I kept going back again and again to some of the basic concepts – like what document size to use, image resolution etc.

2. Mat Thorne video tutorial on Blurb: How to Sequence and Design Your Next Book Like Pro: An Insider’s Guide – Free (56:09) from Blurb.com

”Pro photographer and book designer Mat Thorne presents an introduction to book design principals. This webinar covers an overview of typography, essentials of cover design, and laying out front & back matter. Mat also shares examples and offers inspiration from published photography books.”
I highly recommend spending the time to see this excellent video tutorial.

3. Mat Thorne’s Video tutorial Part 2 : Free (1:07) from Blurb.com

The Part II of Mat’s tutorial is another hour, but it is another hour I found totally worth the investment.

This is the only resource I did not use when making my pdf – I came across these tutorials when writing this post. It seemed too goo a resource not to list.

5. Video tutorials on the basics of using Scribus on showmedo. – Free
I viewed the first few tutorials here and they helped me quite a bit in becoming familiar with Scribus.

6. The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams – $19.99 on Amazon.com, Free from your public library
This is a very easy to read fun book on book designing, as the name suggests. The concepts I read here help not only in designing ebooks, but also pamphlets, powerpoint presentations and other visual media. I highly suggest borrowing this book from your library and reading it.

That ends the compilation. If you have any other resources you recommend, do drop me a note.

Other SoFoBoMo posts:
Post 1: http://www.suprada.com/photoblog/archives/1712
Post 2: http://www.suprada.com/photoblog/archives/1727
Post 3: http://www.suprada.com/photoblog/archives/1738

September 26, 2014
by admin
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Making photo books

This post is a repost. Original blogpost by Juha Haataja found in his excellent blog – Lightscrape

Link to original article – http://lightscrape.blogspot.com/p/making-photo-books.html

(Note: The SoFoBoMo web site was closed down in the end of 2011, so I have changed the links of the PDF files to point to Scribd.)

Have you made a photo book? If you haven’t then SoFoBoMo might be the perfect way to start: “SoFoBoMo is short for Solo Photo Book Month – a group event where a bunch of photographers all make solo photo books start to finish in 31 days.” SoFoBoMo is good, as there is no pressure to perform, but plenty of support from others who are taking part. In 2011, SoFoBoMo run from 1st July to 31st August.

I have taken part three times, in 2009-2011. In 2010 I finished three photo books, which was a surprise as I wasn’t originally sure I could make one.

Below are some practical instructions on how to make both a good-quality pdf file and a printed book with Blurb, using the Apple Pages software (and Ghostscript to generate pdfs and jpegs).

In 2011 things were different, as Viovio.com (which is sponsoring SoFoBoMo) offers direct upload of PDF files to their print-on-demand service. This seems to be a robust service. I tried it, with some hiccups – see the addendum at the end for some experiences.

From 2013 there is one photo book:

Here is the list of photo books which I have done in 2009-2011:

Of these, I like best the Midsummer book, which was done in two days: 12 hours to take photographs and a couple of hours to do the typesetting. It is rough, but also spontaneous.

Short instructions to making a photo book

To make a photo book from start to finish, all you need is the net. I have used both the built-in capability of Apple iPhoto, and the Blurb service for making physical photo books. Both work well, and after getting used to the software and workflow it only takes a few minutes to get a book ready and printed.

In 2008, I made a photo book directly with the Blurb software (BookSmart), but the drawback is you can only get printed books, not a PDF file. Nowadays I use the Pages software for typesetting the photo books, and Blurb for getting a printed copy.

I’m using a Mac so this doesn’t work quite the same on a PC. Also note that I’m using Blurb in a bit of a convoluted manner. I do know that you can use specially-constructed PDF files (using InDesign) with Blurb, which may be easier for some.

First, I generate a PDF file from the Pages typesetting program using “Export…” and selecting the “Best” quality. The resulting PDF file is usually quite huge, 100-200 MB. For distributing a PDF version on the net, I compress the original PDF file using Ghostscript, giving a Unix command in Terminal:

gs -q -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=BK_low.pdf -dPDFSETTINGS=/ebook BK.pdf

The resulting PDF file is 10-30 times smaller than the original. As you see of my photo books, the PDF file size is typically a couple of MB only.

Next, still having the original “big” PDF file (export from Pages using “Best” quality), you can generate individual jpeg files of the pages of the document. I use Ghostscript at 300 dpi resolution, and generate separate jpeg files of the pages using the following Unix command in Terminal:

gs -dSAFER -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=jpeg -r300 -dTextAlphaBits=4 -dGraphicsAlphaBits=4 -dMaxStripSize=8192 -sOutputFile=page_%d.jpg BK.pdf

You get as many jpeg files as there are pages in the document.

Next, switch over to the BookSmart software of Blurb. Use full-bleed layout the whole way, and inport the pages from the jpeg images. (Just drag and drop them.) This takes a couple of minutes, and then you are ready to proceed with upload to Blurb and ordering of a printed copy.

Here a page numbering trick comes useful. You need to “align” the page numbering in Pages and on Blurb, especially recognizing that Blurb insists of having a Blurb copyright page at the beginning and another page with the Blurb logo at the end. (You can get rid of these by paying a bit more…)

I can use pages one and two (which don’t have page numbers in the layout in Pages) as full-bleed images in BookSmart, and as there is the obligatory page in Blurb (which contains the Blurb logo etc.), I can start with full-bleed layout again conveniently from page three. So, the trick is to have in the beginning of the PDF file two unnumbered pages (cover and title page), and then start the page numbering from three.

This is quite easy, but unfortunately there was a bit of a learning experience on how to do this in Pages: to get no page numbers on the first two pages, and then start page numbering from three. Somehow I managed to do this but don’t remember how. The easiest way is just to use previous documents as templates.

Update: I had to do this again in 2011, and the trick is to delete the page number field from the first pages, and then go on the third page to the inspector, and start the page numbering from three there, and not copy the previous settings. And you need to add the page number field somewhere to have it visible. For the next pages, you need to copy the settings from the previous section. This isn’t intuitive but not too complicated either.

There are some problems in the old (iWork ’08) version of Pages which I’m using, but not enough to upgrade to a newer version. For example, if you have deleted pages from the end of the book, and then cut-and-paste new pages, the deleted pages “magically” appear underneath the new pages. You need to watch out for this and delete the unwanted material.

One thing to note in Blurb is that it cuts a bit away from the edges, so you need to be ready for this in your original Pages layout. I made a quite “spacy” layout in Pages so for me this was not a problem.

When you have imported the pages into BookSmart and uploaded the document to the Blurb site, you can order a printed copy of your photo book. It only costs a couple of dozen euros, which is remarkable compared to what it cost to print a book in color in the old days.

I have ordered a copy of each of my 2010 SoFoBoMo books from Blurb, using the 25 x 20 cm softcover format. In 2009 this worked perfectly except that the paper wasperhaps slightly too thin. In 2010 I upgraded to “premium” paper. Much to my surprise, I received the first of these books the next day after I got the “Order Shipment Confirmation” e-mail from Blurb. The result is good, better than in 2009, and that was already fine.

The premium paper was a good idea. Now all blemishes that there are are all mine. (Have to take better photographs…) What was surprising how close the end result was to what I was seeing on screen – colors are exactly what I was expecting them to be.

For those interested in on-demand publishing, Dpreview has a nice background article about Blurb. There I got an explanation for the fast delivery to Finland: there is a print location in the Netherlands.

Addendum: Experiences at SoFoBoMo 2011 (Viovio.com etc.)

Here are a few words about my SoFoBoMo 2011 project, a photo book titled Treasure Pond. It is available at the SoFoBoMo site, and also as a Blurb version. I have ordered a printed book from Blurb, but it will take some days until I can judge the quality.

Here are some lessons learned which I hope will benefit others, either doing a SoFoBoMo project or doing a photo book for other reasons.

First, one should think about the page size, or at least the aspect ratio of the pages. I forgot to check whether the VioVio.com service supports 25 cm x 20 cm format, and it didn’t, so I couldn’t use the service for printing my PDF file.

(As a sidenote, I probably would have needed to change the book format in Pages anyway, to help in getting the material positioned just right on the pages, as the Viovio.com service seems to trim more out of the page edges than Blurb.com.)

Related to the above point, one should think carefully whether you need a PDF file, or a printed book, or both. For SoFoBoMo, a PDF versio is sufficient, but I like to have a printed book to browse, so I need both. But this complicates matters.

If you don’t need a PDF file, then there are a multitude of web sites and programs (iPhoto etc.) to make a photo book – plenty of choices for both a beginner and for a professional.

The same applies to PDF files as well, as long as you think carefully about the technical issues, such as maximun file size (15 MB in SoFoBoMo) and similar stuff. Also, when you are not limited to a physical paper size, you can get creative with the PDF format.

However, when you need both a PDF file and a printed book, you need to proceed with caution. The mistake I made was not looking at all the little details when testing out the Viovio.com service.

I uploaded my last year SoFoBoMo PDF file to the site, but didn’t try out the whole workflow all the way to ordering a book. And so I didn’t realize there was a mismatch between the paper size (aspect ratio) of my PDF file and the selection of book formats which Viovio.com supports.

And so when I had my new photo book ready as a PDF file, I got stumped at the end. But all turned out ok, because I had Blurb as a second option, well tested. A bit of extra work only.

Any other lessons? Well, it depends on what you aim for. My photo books are rather modest in scope and ambition, like a snapshot of work-in-progress captured on book pages. Thus, I have tried to make the workflow as easy as possible, and as automated as possible.

Maybe next year I’ll try something more involved, like different formats for different pages of the book, and such things. But for now, I like this approach as it doesn’t need much extra work. I just drop the photographs where they belong on the pre-formatted pages.

Well, here is one little invention I used this year. When I had the initial set of 362 photographs in iPhoto, I divided the photographs into iPhoto events, trying to categorize them into chapters for the book. This worked well, although I changed the plan a couple of times.

But typesetting was much easier after the division into events was done. This helped tremendously in eliminating the organizing work in Pages, and speeded up the work quite a lot. Of course, I had to make corrections in the plan, but nothing really drastic.

Additional information