A lot of advertising photographers invest in hand-made portfolio housings. They are the finishing touch to a lot of hard work and make for an impressive presentation. I hand-made my own portfolios and slipcases because it seems like a really important part of the process. How could I entrust anyone to the task of making a book for my work? I had just finished shooting for an entire year, working on a new style and vision, and the vision couldn’t just stop there. The craft should continue from the digital world and carry through to the physical one that wrapped around my printed pages. I’m a hands-on kinda person and I love research.
I sought out Barbara Mauriello, a brilliant and highly regarded bookbinder, conservator and artist, who agreed to take me on as her student, to become a one trick pony. That is, to learn screw post bookbinding techniques, the style in which many commercial photography portfolios are bound. I also joined the Center for Book Arts on 27th Street, to rent their bookbinding studio equipment, a remarkable resource for an archaic craft. I later assembled the books in my basement workshop.
After four long training sessions with Barbara and months making countless “test books” using dozens of different fabrics and techniques, the real books went into production, with the goal of making ten in total, knowing a few would be ruined along the way. Two Three of the books didn’t make it. After all, I was just an apprentice, more or less copying what the master demonstrated.
As an added element to my books I designed my own logo based on the iconic jumping goldfish photo to create a copper die for imprinting the covers. No, I didn’t make that myself, too, I sent that out to engraver, Owosso Graphics, in Michigan. Sophia Kramer was my mentor on this part of the bookmaking and with infinite patience taught me how to use the kindly used, but ancient, Kensol 36T, three-ton press (ooooh, sounds impressive, doesn’t it?) at the Center for Book Arts.
They’re done, they’re gorgeous, and I’m sending them out in the world (not unlike my teenage daughter to college) to see how they fare.