JUSTIN PARTYKA: As you know, I am close to finishing a long-term book project. I was wondering how many “book dummies” you went through with Violet Isle, and what their physical format was?


Alex Webb, RNW's cover, VI book dummy

Alex Webb, Violet Isle book dummy

Alex Webb, Alex's photo, VI book dummy

REBECCA NORRIS WEBB:  Well, since a picture is worth a thousands words, we decided to post some photos of this handmade book dummy, which was made out of color xeroxes and tape.  We made four versions of this book dummy.

For people shopping their first book around, Alex and I would recommend something a bit more professional looking, such as one of the Blurb books. We were fortunate that the publishers we showed the book to were charmed by it, perhaps because its obvious homemade quality  is somewhat reminiscent of Cuba and its tradition of handmade books.

Alex Webb, Rebecca Norris Webb photos, book dummy


Alex Webb, RNW's photos, VI book dummy



Alex Webb, Alex Webb's photo, VI book dummy


Alex Webb, AW's back cover, VI book dummy

DAVID BACHER: It’s interesting to hear your comment about the relationship of Cubans and the natural world, and perhaps on a larger scale, human beings and the natural world. I like this idea, both generally speaking, and as a way of tying your work together in one book. You mention the  “dearth of cars and plastics.”  One of the first images that comes to my mind regarding Cuba is the old American car that still manages to crawl around this island, that in some ways remains stuck in the past. I always imagined that there are many such old cars that continue to pollute. Or is the actual quantity of these cars very low compared to the landmass?


Rebecca Norris Webb, Caibarien, Cuba, 2008

ALEX WEBB: Yes, you guessed right, David.  Compared to other Latin American cities, Havana has considerable fewer cars.  And when traveling outside of Havana, horse-and-buggies and bike taxis often share the road with cars, the former two often dominating in the smaller towns.

When Rebecca discovered these unique collections of animals all around the Cuba –– especially birds –– she was struck by how she’d never witnessed anything quite like this in the 25 cities around the world she visited while working on her first book.  The “Violet Isle” is indeed the largest island in the Caribbean, some 700 miles across, and has some endemic species, including the world’s smallest bat and the world’s smallest hummingbird. Cuba has several national parks, and some 10% of the entire island is protected from all building and development.

EWA ZEBROWSKI: Would you choose to collaborate again?

Portrait by Cuban photographer

ALEX WEBB:  Yes, we think we’ll collaborate again, though are first priority remains our individual projects.  We do have an idea for another collaboration, which we may begin fairly soon.

Justin Partyka’s website:

David Bacher’s website:

Ewa Zebrowski’s website:

One Response to “VIOLET ISLE: Q and A”

  1. Two Looks: Trent Parke and Narelle Autio | dvafoto Says:

    […] his and her images), and Webb/Norris Webb have recently published a book about Cuba together called Violet Isle. This was written by Matt Lutton. Posted on Wednesday, November 25, 2009, at 5:27 am. Filed under […]

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