Making a book is such a thrill. At the same time, the fact that any particular book is published is a kind of miracle. Bringing all of its parts together makes me think of our Congress -- sometimes there is a total melt down. Other times too many compromises weaken the impact. Or money and power and conflicting creative visions have the potential to wreck havoc. Then there is the selling side -- ever since I worked in a bookstore, I have witnessed that too many times people don't trust their own instincts. They prefer to buy what somebody else has stamped worthy. These days the loudest voices seem to determine which books make it on the market. This is especially hard to see happening in the world of children's books now that librarians, who are trained and very well read in their field, no longer have much sway in the choice and number of books sold.
And so, to continue the saga of this formative segment of my life as a photographer.... There I was -- that spring of 1997 -- trying to bring together 35 or so images for one book. Last week's post gives the words, and today I want to show a few of the photos, scanned from the slides I originally took, way back when digital was just beginning. I was using mostly Fuji Velvia 50 ASA slide film. Back then, digital couldn't replicate that anywhere as well as they might today. I will remain a Velvia fan forever.
I am starting with the photo that's from the very first roll of 36 I ever shot with my new tripod and with Velvia film. There was one clear best shot on that roll, but one was all I needed! It is in the opening spread of the book, across from to the waterfall/ given for all:
Of possible interest: I didn't start with this photo because it was at the beginning of the words but because I wanted to get the waterfall photo done as early in the spring as possible. After more leaves come out in that area, it becomes darker underneath their canopy. I knew this because this waterfall is part of our land and we visit it often.
I have to admit I was encouraged by this photo. It helped me believe in the possibility of the work ahead.
Next is another photo that comes early in the book. But I took it much later. It shows the wonderful greens of the Velvia film, and it also shows my neighbor, Kyle, who was not quite ten at the time. Careful readers of the words might have noticed that there is NO MENTION OF A CHILD. But my reading of the words made me see a child taking the walk in the woods. And I thought of Kyle. He agreed to help me out. He was comfortable being in the woods himself, and he enjoyed the few times we went out. Also, he could wear that great jacket every time. A photographer friend commented on how well the red on the sleeve works in this photo. This time my admission is that the choice was just luck. (I don't think this photo will enlarge well on this blog. Sorry.)
The words are "One path, a stick for a staff."
Did anyone try imagining what "Two birds, daybreak's words" would look like?? I had to stay flexible on this one. Then, because that spring was so cool and wet, I ended up resorting to making a bird blind (from an old sheet) so I could shoot photos with my tripod from inside my bedroom! As I often say, bless mourning doves for being so calm together. And I am thankful as always for the black walnut tree just outside the window. Admission: this was not at all the photo I envisioned to start with, but now I love, love, love it.
There were many birds who seemed to want to be in the book. It turns out this is a worm-eating warbler, and it is very rare to see one on her nest, which is on the ground, under a root. I showed the title page in the previous blog, where she ended up, thanks to the designer, Jennifer Browne, in New York at DK INK.
Kyle would have been 26 this month had he not died a month after graduating from high school. His was a remarkable spirit. I think of him often and again I thank him.
More next week about what I learned from this one project. In the meantime, here are a few random words of advice I seem to have been attached to this week:
Support your local indie bookstore! Look for the good stuff and trust your instincts! Believe in the possibility of good art to change lives and to reach our souls! Tell your own stories! Be persistant and be brave!