Week 3 – Making a Zine, Collaboratively

Among this week’s tasks was an assignment to form a group, crowdsource images and create a Zine.  I must admit to not really knowing what a Zine was before this so of course I was the perfect choice to lead our group.  The group of seven came together quickly and coalesced around one of the two ideas I proposed.  With Father’s Day being last Sunday we collectively agreed it was a timely topic and that we would ask people to take a photograph of something or someplace that evoked a memory of their father and then to write a few words on why that particular image was significant.  While everyone liked and embraced the concept we chose, I think to a person we were all pleasantly surprised by the response we received and moved by many of the images and stories.  There was something powerful in the combination of the images and their accompanying stories; something unique in each, but relatable to all.

We in total received close to 50 submissions, many of which were very poignant, some whimsical, some happy and some sad.  We each posted the photos and stories we received to our space on Canvas, and then had a group webinar to curate the collection and agree on what format we liked for the Zine as well as making assignments to complete the production.

The group worked very well together throughout the process and we were able to use both the Canvas discussion space and a WhatsApp thread to discuss progress, communicate assignments and decisions contributing to the efficiency in which we were able to complete the assignment.  While the old adage of “too many cooks spoil the broth” could come in to play in a collaborative effort, it was not the case here.  A few of the group had produced Zines or at least experienced Zines before and that was helpful in assembling and publishing the final product.  Everyone of our group participated, cooperated, and collaborated to collectively create our Zine, the link to which is below.

Dad. A Curated Look at Fathers – FINAL – PRINT RESOLUTION

How does this relate to my practice and what can I take away from this exercise that might influence my practice in the future?

My practice has historically been rather solitary and since I rarely photograph people, quite absent collaboration other than with my husband who often accompanies me on shoots and assists me in carrying kit and ensuring we do things safely.  Many of my thousands of photographs were never seen by anyone but a few close friends or family.  So it is only relatively recently as I make my work more public and contextual that I have come to appreciate that while I may not collaborate much in the making of my images, there is value in having others involved in the process of getting my images into public view.

My years in the corporate and consulting worlds taught me the value of “cold eyes” reviews as we are often too close to what we create to be able to understand how someone seeing something for the first time might see it.  It is difficult to be completely objective about something we create and we often see what we want to see, or what we thought we were creating.  The more familiar we are with a subject the more likely we are to have made assumptions and logical leaps that are not possible for someone coming to the topic for the first time.  I valued the varying perspectives of my colleagues during the Zine exercise and have also on other bits of work in this course.  The range of experience and the range of perspectives born out of their respective practice specialties has proven interesting, educational, and useful in helping me understand what other people see (or don’t see) in work I have created.

Furthermore, I really enjoyed working with others and as my practice matures, I will look for ways to do more of that in the future.  A couple of my projects are going to involve a lot more coordination and planning and therefore collaboration in order to achieve the end result.  I look forward to it.

I also am glad to have introduced to the Zine concept.  In many ways Ed Ruscha’s 26 Gas Stations was a Zine; soft cover, inexpensively produced on less than high quality medium.  I can see a possibility of using the Zine approach in the future for my work, either as an advertisement for my work or as an end product.  My eyes continue to open to the expanse of possibilities available to me.

Week 2 – Project Trailer

As part of the week’s activities we were to create a video “teaser” trailer about our project according to the following instructions.

“Making a trailer may initially seem an unusual activity in a photography course, but trailers have become a useful tool for blockbuster exhibitions in recent years, with varying approaches and budgets. Furthermore, making a trailer is a great way to step outside your comfort zone and refine your sense of storytelling, as well as being a good way to explore the fundamental time-based relationship between images and words.  Think about which images of yours (or others’) can help express / reveal key parts of your project. Think about how to get your audience interested in the images, how to build tension (or not) and how to release that tension.”

Suffice to say this task did push up against the boundaries of my comfort zone, but not as severely as creating the Positions and Practice Oral Presentation.  Having scaled the steepest part of the learning curve then made this time seem much less overwhelming.  During P&P, I tried to use Adobe Premier, but just couldn’t seem to make it do what I wanted it to do in the time frame I had  for the OP.  I ended up using PowerPoint and converting the presentation to video, but I did gain a bit of experience with Premier that made jumping back in for this exercise much less about “which buttons control which functions?” and more about turning a concept into a reality that met the brief within the prescribed limit of 2 minutes.

It also is clear that I am becoming more comfortable with the idea of using my images to tell a story; an aspect of my photographic practice that was always noticeably absent.  There has in fact been a distinct shift in the approach to my practice and while I will still  photograph something because it appeals to my eye, the majority of my work now is far more purposeful.  I start a shoot with a much clearer intention and sense of what I will need to tell the story I have in mind.

The result was successful overall, though I wish I could have gone a wee bit longer to allow for a better ending on a natural break in the music track.  I believe I used images and music to convey a dramatic tension and the overall sense of the project.  The result can be viewed in the link below using the password Falmouth.

19 Sutherland Bridges: A nod to Ed Ruscha

As an optional project prior to beginning the Surfaces and Strategies module we were invited to examine the works of Ed Ruscha and create a project inspired by his body of work.  I chose Ruscha’s  26 Gas Stations as my inspiration and while Ruscha stated neither his photography or his subject matter were very interesting, this work, considered the first artist’s book (Drucker, 2004), had a profound influence on the future of photographic presentation.  So while I maintained Ruscha’s minimalist approach to my book, I wanted my photographs and subject matter to be interesting.  Whether I have succeeded or not is a matter for the reader to decide.

There are other comparisons that can be made between 26 Gas Stations and 19 Sutherland Bridges.  In Ruscha’s case the photographs would have been familiar to anyone who traveled Route 66 in the late 1950s and early 1960s and might have inspired a sense of nostalgia or even a bit of “hey, I have been there” sort of pride at seeing familiar places in a book.  For residents and some visitors to the Highlands of Scotland many of the bridges I have chosen are iconic in their own way and are thoroughfares on which many have passed in their day to day or holiday travels.  At the same time they are photographed from a viewpoint that may not be familiar to those only travelling over the bridges and so may reveal something new to a location that is otherwise so familiar.  Like Ruscha, there is a single photograph that spans two pages; his the Union gas station in Needles, California and mine the Dornoch Firth Bridge, the longest in Sutherland. Like Ruscha, my work is absent people in the photographs and contains only names and locations in the captions.

I have sent the book off to be printed and it has yet to arrive.  Below is the link to the PDF version of the book.  It is best viewed in the 2 page view in Adobe Acrobat or Reader so when viewing it on the web page, realize the photos are meant to be on the left hand page and the captions on the right after the first photo inside which spans 2 pages as it will display as individual pages after the front and rear cover.  It takes a wee while to load so please be patient.

19 Sutherland Bridges



The Century of Artist’s Books, Drucker, Granary, 2004 p11