Printed by BLURB.
This is my second photographic book I have printed through the international print-on-demand company named Blurb. It is a hard-bound, 15x23 cm, trade book printed on standard uncoated color paper (105 GSM).
The images were sequenced and laid out with Bookwright, a user-friendly dedicated software, which allows to create photographic books from scratch or by templates and send them to Blurb for printing. Bookwright makes sure that all pages in the book are up to standards and creates a screen preview of what the book would look like in print, avoiding mistakes (such as unexpected cropping) and rendering a realistic positioning of images in each book page.
HERE between THEN and NOW is a collection of snapshots, a photographic chronicle, of a year in which an important personal experience changed my way of seeing the world, made me reconsider life priorities and goals, and accept the inevitability of things. All the pictures have been taken in my house and my neighbourhood. Printing this book was a cathartic experience, a fundamental moment in the healing process.
The book contains color and black-and-white photographic images taken with film cameras (Contax G1, Nikon F3 HP, Mamiya RB67, Fujifilm GW670iii, Fujica GS465W) and digital cameras (Sony DSC RX 100 and Nikon D800). Film was scanned with a 135 mm Nikon Coolscan IV and an Epson Perfection 4990 Photo. I have sharpened each photograph individually in Lightroom (at 100% view). The Standard paper texture and matt finish rendered details perfectly, with just the right amount of softness to make images very pleasant to the eye and without the unnatural edge sharpness of digital prints on Lustre or Pearl paper.
Unlike photographic paper, Standard paper does not have the same wide tonal range, especially in the shadow areas (a look I personally do not mind). Alternatively, blocked-out shadows can be easily fixed in Photoshop. Black and white images do have a color cast, which nonetheless seems to remain constant throughout. To great frustration of those who learned photography in the darkroom and moved to digital or hybrid photography, rendering neutral black and white images with coloured inks still is something that standard printers struggle with. If you wish to publish a fine-art photography book in black and white, I am afraid, print-on-demand is not your way.
The hardbound cover looks and feels really nice. It is somewhat thicker than standard commercial illustrated books – in my view it may look too chunky for books with less than 150 pages in Standard paper. If I were to reprint HERE between THEN and NOW, I would probably do it in Paperback.
Finally, I would like to point out what I think is the only shortcoming of Blurb print-on-demand books: the binding. The pages are just glued together and tend to fall out too easily if the book is picked up and flipped through more than ten times. I am not an expert in book-making, but I suppose that the much stronger stitch-binding would make production costs rise considerably, since it cannot be done by machine.
Falconry, the world over, has long been considered the favourite activity of authority figures, evoking images of courageous, wise and powerful leaders.
In the imagination of Medieval Europe, Mughal India or Imperial Mongolia, falcons symbolised high status – a concept eloquently expressed by an ancient Danish proverb:
In the Arabic world, falcons continue to be considered a status symbol and a luxury commodity, accessible only to a few who can afford their soaring prices.
The sitters of these portraits are neither wealthy nor powerful. They are men of modest means, who have come from South Asia and the Middle East to the city of Doha in Qatar to work as falcon shop keepers. They are unaware of the powerful connotations that have been historically surrounding these animals.
Yet, when posing with a falcon on their arm, an aura of majesty, pride and restraint falls upon them. Like a costume, the bird of prey transfigures he who holds it, affecting his posture, glance, and self-presentation. These photographs capture the suspended moment in which these men are temporarily elevated above their humble status of servants.
I took these pictures in Trani, a seaside town in Northern Puglia. I spent one winter weekend walking up and down the shoreline, looking at the sea, the coast, the birds, and the rocks. I was amazed by the rate at which the scenery changed throughout the day. That weekend I realised that getting to know a place intimately feels just as good as going back to familiar sceneries.
I was in Delhi with a bunch of friends and they decided to fly to Ladakh for a short visit. It was a very nice trip. I reached my highest peak (almost 17,000 feet), I saw peaceful monasteries perched on mountain cliffs, and rode a Tibetan camel (not that impressive, actually). Yet, in spite of the breathtaking landscape, the wonderful company, and the mystic peace, what I remember most vividly of that place was the cold: the blistering cold that seeps through your skin, no matter how many layers of clothing you wear.
Says who that museums are boring?