Archive for the ‘On Press’ Category
On press, one of the biggest challenges was trying to capture the luminosity of Esteban Mauchi’s match prints. I kept thinking of the wonderful quote by the poet Paul Valery: “One should be light like a bird, and not like a feather.”––Rebecca Norris Webb
Nice that the first day of the press check in Singapore for Rebecca’s “My Dakota” book started with the dust jacket (see above). Another bit of luck: Like with the press check for “Violet Isle,” we have the master pressman again, Simon (see below), who has managed to capture the luminosity of Rebecca’s elegiac prints. So far, the press check is going well.––Alex Webb
As I am preparing emotionally and mentally to be on press tomorrow, I can’t help but think of the metaphor of childbirth with regards to bringing a new book into the world. Perhaps it’s because I come from a long line of doctors –– my father is fifth generation doctor, my younger sister, sixth generation — but I don’t see myself as the mother, but as the midwife or the doctor, attending to the work, helping to deliver the work into the world, Perhaps that’s also because this new book, as personal as it is for me, isn’t me. It’s wiser than I am. It’s more than I am. It’s more important than I am.
My task these next few days on press –– along with the book’s designer and Radius”s creative director, David Chickey, and Alex, who helped me sequence the photographs –– will be to try to deliver the work into the world, and to deliver it alive, as the poet Ezra Pound once said about poetry. Isn’t that always the task: To keep enough of the flaws and the contradictions and the cracks and the complexity and the tensions in a book, which are a book’s life’s blood? Or perhaps I just like the irony of using the metaphor of childbirth in a book that deals with death…––Rebecca Norris Webb
Just finished with the cover — or at least as much as we can do at this point — since the orange cloth won’t be added until after we leave Hong Kong (you can see a mock up of the cover of the French edition in the top right-hand corner of the first photograph below).
So, we end as we began, with yet another detour. We — and all of you — will have to wait another three to four weeks to see a photograph of the final cover, when the first bound copies of “The Suffering of Light” finally reach us back in Brooklyn.
Thanks for all your comments and questions and support during the birth of this most recent book. Rebecca and I are leaving you with one last quote below, which, of course, is about detours.—Alex Webb
“[One’s creative] work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence [one's] heart first opened.” ––Albert Camus
Working with Matthew Pimm, head of production at Aperture, who is on press with us in Hong Kong, is always an education. He’s made me much more aware of the possibilities — as well as the limitations — of four color printing. The limitations come up somewhat regularly with my photographs, which are often taken in extreme or mixed light, sometimes producing colors that are unusual or surprising. As I understand it, the four color dot system simply can’t reproduce certain hues, certain tones that may exist in a continuous tone photograph. Now, having worked with Matthew on two books, I smile to myself a bit when he tells me, as we’re looking at a particularly deep Kodachrome red — or a strange, intense blue — that the color is “out of gamut.” Over the years, I’ve learned to translate this phrase of Matthew’s describing those colors of mine most difficult to reproduce, as — in my best Brooklynese — “Fuhgeddaboutit, Alex!”
Most of the time, however, a small adjustment will make the image sing, which is what happened with this image (below) of the child with cotton candy (the cover of the Istanbul book) after we added just a touch of black.–Alex Webb
Being on press involves a lot of waiting: waiting for the plates and press to be prepared, waiting for the pressmen to make initial inking adjustments, waiting for further inking adjustments at the direction of the production team, and, finally, waiting for the run to be completed (sometimes compounded by alternate plates inserted for foreign editions). And then the process begins all over again. With this book, which has 17 signatures, that’s 34 set-ups plus delays on each run for two foreign editions (French and Italian). That’s a lot of waiting, even for a photographer like myself, who spends so much of his life waiting and watching for photographs.
So how does a photographer try to break up this monotony? The obvious way: I took this photograph while meandering through the maze of the printing plant. – Alex Webb
The funny thing about waiting around on press with all these amazing photographs of Alex’s — even the street outside the printing plant is beginning to look like an Alex Webb photograph. –Rebecca Norris Webb
THE TRIP: NEW YORK to HONG KONG
Over the next few days, Rebecca and I are going to be posting some images and rough, diaristic video about the experience of being on press in Hong Kong for my survey book of 30 years of color photographs:”The Suffering of Light.” This is the fourth time in five years that Rebecca and I –– who edit and sequence our books together ––have been on press for either one of our individual books or our joint book.
For me, putting together a survey book of 30 years of photographs has been rewarding but also a little unsettling: while on the one hand I am looking forward to printing this upcoming book, on the other hand, I am filled with the doubts that accompany a book that reflects much of my photographic life.
Inevitably, there have already been a few detours. Our flight to Tokyo was delayed, and as a result we missed our connection into Hong Kong and had to spend the night at a hotel near the Narita Airport. On the flight the next day, however, thanks to unusually good weather, we had a rare sighting of Mount Fuji, which Rebecca photographed with her new ipod touch (a remarkable little invention.) And, because we’d purposely scheduled an extra travel day, we haven’t lost any time on press for the book.
Let’s just hope any other unexpected detours on press end up so well.––Alex Webb