Til Human Voices Wake Us by Kramer O’Neil

The printing quality on Blurb might not but up to par for many photographers, and I’m sure nobody is raking in the cash selling books, but I think self-publishing is worth pursuing despite the challenges.  It’s been good to see photographers creating books and completing the circle on projects, so to speak.  This book by Kramer is a nice example of how photography on the web is slowly evolving.  I remember seeing the first photographs from this series pop up on Flickr during the summer.  Over the months as he worked on the project, you could watch it evolve and take shape on his stream, which may not be that interesting to the casual viewer, but for other photographers the behind the scenes evolution can be insightful and educational.

From the beginning I never sensed this was going to be a long term, epic type of project.  But it wasn’t going to be a short essay on a specific event or subject either.  It was somewhere in between and that’s what I found most interesting.

The risk you run with these type projects is quality.  How can you expect to make enough compelling photographs in that short of time?  It’s certainly a balancing act.  But what you might lose in quality, you make up for in the experience you gain from completing a project from conception to completion.  Editing and sequencing a book might be the most challenging aspects of any project.  And I know from my own experiences, that those challenges can suck the life out of you and make you mutter ‘it’s just a hobby’ and ‘who cares anyway? I suck.’  But if you don’t work those muscles and suffer a bit, I don’t think you can evolve and improve as a photographer.

And even if you learn to love suffering and editing, how do you know when a project is completed? How much time should be dedicated to a project?  How many photographs make the final edit?  Like everything in art, there’s obviously no right answer to these questions.  Each artist has their own internal mechanisms for figuring it out.  I tend to look to other mediums for answers, which might be dangerous, but it gives me clarity.

Some writers write novels, others short stories, others poetry and so on.  I think of these in between photography projects as short stories.  As for artistic output and length of time one spends on a project, I like to compare the careers of Woody Allen and Terrence Malick.  Since 1973, Woody Allen has made 35 films while Malick has made 4.  I’m a fan of both, and will readily admit that Woody has made more shitty films that great films, but I do admire that he sets out every year to make a film.  Some might suck, some might win Awards.  It doesn’t matter  to him.  It’s about working and seeing his vision from conception to completion.

Til Human Voices Wake Us by Kramer O’Neil [Blurb]