On Choices

 

 

Making 'Fragile'  (Triplekite Publishing - now available for pre-order; released July 2016. ISBN 978-0993258947)

I used to be a street photographer. It took me a while to discover that I don't really have the personality for it - the ethics of stealing images is troublesome and the idea of approaching a total stranger, asking them to give up five minutes of their time and suggest they try to arrange their features in an interesting manner whilst they're about it, doesn't much appeal either.

Little did I realise when I made the sideways move to abstract landscape photography (via an ill-advised foray into macro and long exposure work) that I would be sitting down with David from Triplekite Publishing discussing a book proposal within a few short years.

Deciding to commit one's work to a book throws up no end of questions. First and foremost is Why? Why do it? I think it's fairly safe to assume that any profits generated are going to be modest at best (certainly when you factor in the number of hours spent on the project). So we have to consider that undignified little peculiarity, ego. It's all very well being carried away by a groundswell of support in the cosy shallows of one's Twitter feed. It's quite a different matter to try to connect with the rest of the world and still retain some fragments of credibility.

Charlie Waite has long been an advocate of the printed image. So much of what we do resides in bleak obscurity, buried forevermore in the deepest recesses of a seemingly bottomless hard drive. Like Charlie, I firmly believe that the importance of having a tangible object which doesn't rely on an elaborate sequence of ones and zeros cannot be overstated.

I was fortunate to receive an enormous amount of support on Twitter, so the question of where I might take my proposed offering didn't really surface. Triplekite had already indicated they would be happy to sit and talk with me, and although I have a fond notion that one day I might attempt  a handmade book  in a similar vein to Joe Wright's beautifully crafted work, I knew that such an idea was not really viable for this project. Triplekite were also able to offer global distribution together with the comforting - yet somewhat terrifying - reassurance that every professional book buyer on the planet would be presented with a copy and it will reside for posterity in five major UK libraries.

So. Call it reckless optimism, call it vanity - whatever it was that convinced me that a book of my work might be a viable option became a reality last summer in a Dim Sum bar in Soho.

Eating the noodles was the easy part. Choosing the images for inclusion considerably less so. One false start followed another until I finally settled upon a theme for the book. I have always been fascinated by contrasts and contradictions. Not only in nature, but in all areas of life and many of the images I make are an attempt to highlight these conflicts.

Several ideas were swiftly ejected when it became apparent that the title of the book had to be a single word. This was a great shame, as anyone who has spent time on The Abstract Art Title Generator website will surely know that most of us surely has at least one book inside us entitled 'Landscape with Paranoiac Critical Nothing',  'Articulated Fragment of False Reality' or something very similar.

Eventually I settled on a collection of images I have been slowly adding to for a year or more, entitled 'Fragile'. I thought the task of selecting a group of possible candidates was fiendishly difficult until the time came to choose the cover image. As the selection will also feature as the limited edition print, it was not a decision to be taken lightly.

In the end, David put the vote out to the Twitterati and the image above was duly elected a clear winner. Even now, that decision is fraught with doubt and apprehension. It is clearly a very pink and frothy offering. Much of the work in the book is much darker - does it adequately represent the contents and the theme of the book? Is it going to be perceived as too obvious a choice for the first female photographer to be published by Triplekite?  Could  the soft pastel wildflower meadow precipitate a charge of gender stereotyping?  Is it strong enough to make the cover stand out?  Are there too many dandelions?

The die is cast, the decision is made, the pre-orders have opened; it's a done deal. Now all that remains, is for me (and, it appears, half of my extended family) to put ourselves in the caring hands of Sir Stelios and fly out to Malta to sign off on the printing when it takes place at the beginning of May. I've never been to Malta; it seems as good as an excuse as any to visit. I've heard stories about the glorious spring flowers that are so abundant there. Perhaps pastel-coloured  wildflower meadows beckon once more.

 

FRAGILE is available from Triplekite; price from £18.50

 

Price for book and limited edition signed print £55.00 (while stocks last)

Book without print £18.50

 

8 Comments

  1. Colin Bell on 21/05/2016 at 12:40 pm

    I love reading your blogs Valda, so eloquently written. I’m really looking forward to receiving the book, my most anticipated purchase for a while. Uncertainty, (fragility, if you like) is an under rated and endearing quality in my book (not that I have one) and it is an energy that you have harnessed to great effect in your image making. Can’t wait.
    P.s. as I’m typing this comment, for some reason it is all in CAPS. I’m hoping that it gets changed when I post it!

    • valdab on 21/05/2016 at 12:49 pm

      thanks Colin – yes for reasons unclear, the comments come out in capitals in the message box but not when posted. It’s a setting buried deep within the unseen reaches of Zenfolio. I will endeavour to fix it. I appreciate your kind words – coming from you it means a great deal.

  2. Lizzie Shepherd on 21/05/2016 at 12:50 pm

    Great blog, as ever, Valda – and then there’s the images… 🙂 I’d concur with everything Colin says (except the bit about capitals ;0)) and I can’t wait to see the book – knowing the perfectionist that you are, I have no doubt it will be superb! 🙂 btw if you have time, pop across to Gozo whilst you are there…

    • valdab on 21/05/2016 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks Lizzie – really appreciate your kind comments. I think I managed to adjust the capital thing yesterday after half an hour of delving. WIll definitely get across to Gozo – have heard great things about it 🙂

  3. Michela Griffith on 21/05/2016 at 12:51 pm

    Colin has summed up my thoughts, equally eloquently. I doubt anyone will judge the book solely on its cover; a new world waits within. I have no doubt it will be well received; I suspect my only wish will be that it is a little bigger to be better able to appreciate the detail in your images. In between the work bit I’m sure you will enjoy Malta; the amount and density of development is a little startling, but it will I’m sure send you off along another line of enquiry.

    • valdab on 21/05/2016 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you Michela – you are always so kind and supportive of my work and it really is appreciated. I am certainly looking forward to Malta – we have a car so hopefully will be able to find a few quiet corners on the island 🙂

  4. Peter Keverne on 21/05/2016 at 12:51 pm

    I was not aware of your work until I saw your image in the latest edition of Digital Camera (176) inspirational work!. Followed up by having a look at your website. Wide range of really creative work – really enjoyed it.
    Would like to to be a subscriber to your blog – looks most interesting.

    • valdab on 21/05/2016 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you Peter. I don’t have a newsletter as such or a subscriber list; blogs sort of appear on an ad hoc basis. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

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