Don Mussell (dmsml) Thu 4 May 06 09:10
One thing I notice is that most people, no matter where they are from, tend to do the same kinds of things. There is no thematic style that can be judged as coming from one place or another. It seems to confirm that people are similar in what images are important to them, which includes family, friends, landscapes, cats, dogs, interesting buildings and sunsets, at least in a general sense. I use fotothing to document where I am in the world. The latest photo is from where I happen to be. I travel quite a bit, so friends and family can take a look and see, oh, look, he's in Hawai`i (again) or Kentucky or wherever.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 4 May 06 11:26
It's fun to discover things about your daily visual buddies. Lovely compositions of garden and flower images then suddenly a new baby, or a tight sequence of kayaking in Alaska.
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Thu 4 May 06 14:18
All that makes a lot of sense. A rich community, loosely joined not only by hyperlinks and text but by images and connections among them. So, why a book?
Andrew Long (andrewlong) Thu 4 May 06 14:19
Hi folks, Sorry to be late to the party. I'm one of the editors of fotolog.book, along with Johanna (comments at 2 and 22 above). It's great to read the comments and questions above about Fotolog, its users, and its uses. I joined Fotolog around the same time as Johanna, early 2003. For me it was a way to get a Web presence for my photos, without designing and paying for my own Web site (which I had wanted to do for about a year). But it was so easy, and fun, and, yes, addictive, that I quickly forgot my desire for a "professional" platform for my photos, and gave in to this new form of communication and social interaction. And the feedback/validation Adam talks about above was very welcome: I gained a lot of photo-confidence in a short amount of time. Four months later I quit my office job to focus on taking pictures and starting a freelance business. Fotolog literally changed my life.
Andrew Long (andrewlong) Thu 4 May 06 14:33
Hi Bruce, just saw your question. The easy answer is that Johanna had an idea that there SHOULD be a book about Fotolog. She's in a position to know about most of the best illustrated books produced each year (many of them directly from Thames & Hudson!), and sees lots of interesting (and not so interesting) cultural phenomena chronicled in "coffee-table" books every month. In our estimation, Fotolog was and is a true cultural phenomenon, and it had thousands of amazing photographs to boot. So from the standpoint of a photographer who is also a publisher, it is basically a no-brainer. I felt the same way as she did, pretty much contemporaneously. We had emailed back and forth a few times, and after one in which I urged her to seriously pursue a book of her own images, she sent me the outlined details of her idea for a Fotolog book. I went bonkers and begged her to let me work on it with her, and she said yes, thank god. more in a bit about the Web/print issues.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 4 May 06 14:46
Hi Andrew! I just looked at your first (extant) fotolog entry, at http://www.fotolog.com/along/?pid=41646 and I notice that Johanna "found" you right off the bat. I think of that as a hostly instinct, in terms of online community, but perhaps it is also a curatorial or editorial instinct, when dealing with images. How great that you ended up working together!
Andrew Long (andrewlong) Thu 4 May 06 15:16
Hi Gail! That's strange, the "found" reference you make is obviously to my first photo, which I captioned 'lost' but the link you have is to a different photo, my 10th on Fotolog. here's my first: http://www.fotolog.com/along/?pid=39383 The permalink feature of Fotolog sometimes gets mixed up when clicking back and forth between photos. Yes, Johanna and I found each other very quickly, I think almost exclusively because of the kinds of subject matter we post, and our approaches towards it.
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 4 May 06 16:11
Oops. I think I got confused by the calendar-view archives. Isn't it amazing how you can become friends based on how & what somebody sees? http://www.fotolog.com/along/?pid=39383 -- your first one -- is lovely. No comments made on it for several months alas, but fortunately you kept uploading.
Andrew Long (andrewlong) Thu 4 May 06 16:50
ha, yes, it was so new to me that I was happy just to have a place to post pictures. and at that time, it was fairly common for pictures to go without comments. It was still a small community, maybe 5 or 6000 people, and it was still developing its identity.
Andrew Long (andrewlong) Thu 4 May 06 16:59
yes, it is amazing, but perhaps wonderfully predictable, that we can become friends based on what we see. After all, you could call someone's general visual sense their "outlook" on things, and one of the ways people fall into easy and lasting friendships is by sharing similar outlooks on life.
Andrew Long (andrewlong) Thu 4 May 06 17:08
Here are some more thoughts on "why a book?"... This I think contains an implied question, which I've been asked in various ways before: Why subject a dynamic, broad-based online experience, shared by millions of users, to the limitations of a static, relatively narrow print experience, which will be very lucky if it's shared by 50,000 people? One answer is that we felt from the beginning that so many of the beautiful, moving, funny, or bizarre photos we were seeing on Fotolog, almost all by users who did not consider themselves "professional" photographers, were just as good, if not better, than much of what gets anthologized on coffee tables these days. They deserved to be in print. Also, we felt strongly that the Fotolog phenomenon, which was allowing this growing community to communicate in new ways across borders, time lines, and age gaps, was itself unique and very much worth chronicling in print. At the time, Fotolog had gotten some press coverage, but not a lot. I think we probably wanted to spread the word, evangelize a bit. And speaking for myself, I love the unique qualities of print: the sense of permanence; the finite format, requiring a distillation of information and meaning; and the close quarters, which demand so much thought and effort to produce effective visual narratives. Fotologgers visually document their lives, and fotolog.book is a unique document of the documenters. I think that's a valid and worthwhile endeavor.
art siegel (arto) Thu 4 May 06 22:31
Hello, Andrew...congratulations on the book, My expectations were high and you surpassed them. It's been several years in the making. Were there ways in which the final product differed from the original conception?
Andrew Long (andrewlong) Thu 4 May 06 23:04
Hey art! Thanks very much for the kind words. I think we surpassed our own expectations too. That's an excellent question--and I'll have to tell you about it tomorrow! In the meantime if she's not too crazy at work I'm sure Johanna will weigh in on it too. a bientot.
Johanna Neurath (johannaneurath) Fri 5 May 06 06:07
Did the book change from the original idea? No, it didn't really. Physically, I had quite a clear idea of what shape the book should be. I wanted it to feel approachable, accessible and fun. Which to my mind means square, chunky, and not too large a page size - but a big enough page to accommodate lots of pictures at a decent size, but without the risk of over-enlarging them - remember we were dealing with digital images of varying quality - some taken from low resolution cameras. It also had to feel substantial, good value for money, so that meant lots of pages, on good thick paper. Andrew had some great ideas early on about gatefold pages and flaps that could be used to show sequences of images - but the production cost was too high, sadly. Editorially, right from the beginning I knew we'd have to break the book up into sections - impose some sort of order, so that people who had never heard of the website could relate to the book too. And we wanted some words to put the images and Fotolog phenomenom into context, to raise and perhaps answer some of the questions that we had asked ourselves. I think Nick Currie's texts and Andrew's introduction did this perfectly, and that the comments used as captions give an idea of who the people are behind the cameras. One of the books that made a huge impression on me over the last few years was the Lomo Book, published by Booth Clibborn in 2002: http://www.booth-clibborn.com/showbook.asp?catid=6&id=81 It's a similar idea: an anthology of many images (a lot of them taken by untrained amateurs - in the true sense of the word). A huge rambling visual feast. But nothing organising the pictures apart from some visual correspondences. But NO words relating to what you were looking at. I found that intensely frustrating and wanted to know more... Who WERE these people taking the pictures, WHY did they do it? The design brief was to come up with something approachable, not too 'precious' Visually, I love how the book turned out. It looks varied but cohesive, and the loose grid we used I think gives some of the feeling you get when you look at the website. One lingers longer at some images, flits by some others faster. It was very important to me that each double-spread made a whole unit, a narrative - that the images all "talked to each other' whether that was by emphasizing visual correspondences between the pictures on each page - colour, shapes etc. or subject matter. The reason the book so long to make - simple really: it was a HUGE picture editing job (and a huge administrative job as well. We contacted every contributor, first for permission, and second for the high resolution files to print from). If we had a double spread working well and one picture dropped out because we couldn't track the contributor down or because it came in too low resolution, it was often back to square one again!)
Johanna Neurath (johannaneurath) Fri 5 May 06 06:10
Oops what happened there? Funny line endings and line breaks! Is there a way of editing tbis to make it more legible?
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Fri 5 May 06 11:05
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 5 May 06 11:16
Our classic, beloved but old-school software allows deletions but not edits, and wraps at 80 characters. Don't worry, though, you're worth reading through any kind of line break or learning curve. I wouldn't presume to ask what didn't get permission or where you had to start over and find yet another perfect companion piece. But maybe the other side -- any examples of something that you pictured from the outset, which came together as a layout just as you'd hoped?
Johanna Neurath (johannaneurath) Fri 5 May 06 12:09
Hah! thanks Gail hmmmmm.... That's a toughie... Do you know I really didn't have any preconceptions from the outset. I had designed about 40 pages myself, to present the project to the Thames & Hudson publishing committee before the project got commissioned. A few of those ended up in the book unchanged - not many - as Andrew always found improvements or an even more perfect picture to slot in. And the designer of course also had her own take on things. (I think she had one tough job with both me and Andrew on her case - both of us being so close to the project.) I think between us we must have seriously considered about 9,000 images!!! And ended up with the magic 1001. (Actually I think it's a few more - we stopped counting after that!)... Favourite pages today.... well the psychedlic food spread which you can see here: http://www.fotolog.com/johannaneurath/?pid=12089532 Those who know my pictures a little will see it's just my cup of tea, restrained muted colours and not a hint of kitsch ;) (not) and I love the spread with Nick Currie's preface: http://www.fotolog.com/fotologbook/?pid=12301336 you need to read the text really to get this. http://www.imomus.com/photoblogging.html scroll down to the bottom of the page where the subheading says "THE SCHOOL OF ART KNOCKS"
Johanna Neurath (johannaneurath) Fri 5 May 06 12:24
http://www.fotolog.com/beebs/?pid=8582609 You have to look at this properly (from the psychedlic food spread) - my photo of /beeb's photo in the link above doesn't do it justice. I was a bit worried about how it would come out in the book - it's so luminous on screen - and one can never quite replicate transmitted light (from a computer screen - or a photographic transparency) into reflected light - anything that's reproduced by lithographic printing where you are restricted to the four traditional printing colours. In fact the whole book was a HUGE learning curve for our production department - a whole book done digitally with no hard copies to colour correct to. Unheard of at Thames & Hudson! (we still prefer good old fashioned prints or transparencies on the whole!) The repro house we used checked every single image against the Fotolog URL - sent 'wet" proofs to London, where we checked for colour again. We had to proof some images five times before we got them where we wanted them! Ok I think that's enough of me now. Friday night here in London and the weekend has begun. I should be down the pub celebrating a gorgeous May evening!
art siegel (arto) Fri 5 May 06 12:44
Very enlightening, Johanna, thanks. For anyone in San Francisco reading this today, there's an opening of a group photo show tonight that will include 6 contributors to the fotolog book, and I will have a few copies there for people to see Opening starts at 6 pm. Music by dj ExtraLars from 8:00pm until late. Oxygen Sushi Club 795 Valencia Street @ 19th, S.F. If you can't make it tonight, the show will be up through May 27th, so drop in any evening, Tuesdays through Sundays, 6 pm on.. We'll be toasting Johanna, Andrew, Adam and nyone else we can think of. I want to add to the book discussion that those who study and admire page layout can learn a lot from this book. There are many connections, both subtle and obvious, between and among the photos in each one or two page layout.
brady lea (brady) Sat 6 May 06 08:07
oh the psychadelic food theme, this picture of ours: http://www.fotolog.com/chow/?pid=10551596 is in the book. i got email from kayo or arto, i forget, telling us to get in touch about the book, and had to keep passing it on to my husband who actually took the pic. (i however, made that jello, uhhh, formation, for my MIL's 80th bday party-- per her request.) (our fotologs, woefully neglected these days are /snyders /baumans & /unauthorizedarto )
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Sun 7 May 06 21:34
Okay. That's a bit frightening. Well executed, apparently, what with it being all shiny and crisp (yet jiggly, one still expects). Nonetheless frightening. As with that link, ya just never know what you're going to get on the Web. Is that ever a problem on fotolog -- radically unexpected images? Was that ever a consideration in developing the book?
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Sun 7 May 06 21:35
(and this reminder: those of you following along at home are welcome to join in by asking the operator to connect you to email@example.com and reciting your contribution there by e-mail.)
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 8 May 06 11:03
> radically unexpected images From a user's point of view, it seems to me that people always want attention. The group logs spend a lot of time asking people to play by the rules/within the themes... like here: http://www.fotolog.com/fotologbook/?pid=12315994 The rules wouldn't be reposted if there hadn't bee a few people uploading unrelated material to a group project, in hopes of being seen. That's a dynamic that is caused by a spotlight and the desire to jump into it, and it goes on all over the net, in text and multimedia, of course. Even though the technology democratizes the tools in many ways it is still necessary to build an audience, credibility, a distribution network for yourself. People just as are as naive and impatient as the young band in the garage who wants to be an instant hit after learning a set's worth of songs. So that's one element of finding jarring, out of context images now and then.
Johanna Neurath (johannaneurath) Mon 8 May 06 14:06
we tried to keep jarring out of context pictures out of the book of course... Although I hope we got some unexpected ones in though! Part of the delight of the website is often clicking on a small thumbnail and it opens up large into something very different from what you had imagined.. Funny what scale does to an image...
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