Process 029 ☼ Creating from a mindset of longevity
Thank you for your wonderful response to last week’s “Notice” cover reveal. Many of you were here to read about the genesis of this project when it started as a daily photo walk, and then witnessed it slowly grow and turn into an actual real life photo book. It means the world to have your support.
Today’s letter is about approaching photography from the mindset of longevity. I will also share some more “Notice” updates ahead of the April 6th pre-order launch.
(No giveaway this week but we’ll get back to those next week after the book is out.)
Thinking About Longevity
If you’ve ever met me for a bite in New York City chances are it was at Russ & Daughters Cafe. As someone who loves routines, being a regular at a great restaurant is one of my favorite habits. Russ and Daughters is truly a home away from home for me, so much so that I even appear in photos of their 2014 New York Times review.
Last week fourth generation owner Niki Russ Federman gave a talk that focused on longevity. Russ and Daughters has been in business for 107 years so who better to speak on what it takes to last.
Below are three short quotes from Niki’s talk and my notes on how they can relate to us as photographers trying to make work that lasts.
Niki: In our business we talk a lot about trends. I would argue that trends run counter to longevity, because they come and go. And if you’re chasing a trend […] there’s gonna be a limited time span before some shiny new trend comes along.
Photography is no different. New trends pop up all the time. Should we jump on that new vaporwave portrait aesthetic? Or make Instagram Guides? Or bring some colored smoke bombs to the forest?
If we pay too much attention to trends it becomes much harder to develop our own unique visual voice. This is why I believe photo books are better sources of inspiration than social media. Online trends are born, processed, and abandoned in record speed, while books are forever and allow us see images more slowly and deeply.
N: As an industry we are trained to think about constantly re-inventing ourselves. Changing the menu, coming up with new drinks, changing the decor. Resist the urge to constantly re-do. […] Saying no is not a negation, it’s an affirmation of what your core strenghts are and your allegiance to staying focused on that.
Instead of going wider, it pays off to go deeper first. I always recommend that beginners stick with one camera and a single lens for a full year. It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying a new lens to generate new inspiration, but most often we’re better off sticking with what we already have and challenging ourselves to see better first.
N: Having a longevity mind set in most cases will make you more conservative in terms of business, which I think is a good thing, but it will also enable and empower you to take big risks when it makes sense to do that.
Publishing a photo book is a massive investment of time and money. Doing so during a pandemic only makes it more challenging and complex. It’s a risk, but it’s a calculated risk I am willing to take because I believe it makes sense for this moment in my career.
Publishing a high-end photo book gives me an opportunity to knock on doors and speak with people I might not usually have access to. It gives me a reason to talk to people in the press about my work. It shows agents I can carry through a vision from beginning to end and produce a thoughtful body of work that tells a cohesive story. It shows editorial clients I understand how to make work for the print format.
Producing and publishing a book also creates an opportunity to share lessons learned with you, the readers of Process, and to design workshops to pass on knowledge. I hope that being able to follow along with the process of making “Notice” and then holding the physical book in your hands will lead many of you to say: “I can do this too and here is my roadmap to making my first zine or photo book.”
We’ve been creating “Notice” from a mind set of longevity. A lasting art object that lets me take the next step as a photographer and inspires others to make theirs. Maybe it’ll even outlive us and inspire others for 107 years, just like Russ and Daughters.
If you’d like to watch Niki’s full 18-minute talk go here, recommended!
We’re just a few days away from launching our preorder and I am filled with happy jitters and nervous butterflies. I cannot wait for you to get your hands on this book and touch the physical result of a year of walking, taking photos, curating, and designing.
The print run of “Notice” is limited to 1,000 copies and preordering will not only ensure you get one, it also helps me make it all happen, and it qualifies you for some exciting bonus goodies.
Exclusive Preorder-Only Items
All preordered copies of “Notice” come with a limited edition “Behind the Scenes” journal documenting the process of making the book.
Preorder Discount: Until April 27th the book is €59 ($69), which is €10 off the normal price of €69 ($79). (There will be a student discount, more on that Tuesday)
All preordered copies of “Notice” will be signed.
The Standard and Special Edition
“Notice” will be published in two editions. The standard edition is bound in a high quality yellow cloth, matched to the color of the beautiful daisies I would see on my daily walks. This color represents the excitement of new life and hope.
The special edition is limited to only 50 copies, signed and numbered, and bound in red cloth, matched to the poppies I’d find growing in places where daisies wouldn’t grow. The red represents perseverance and the passion required to make it through.
Both editions contain the same photos and writing. The special edition is priced at €169 ($199) featuring an extremely limited collector’s cover and contrasting endpapers; a special reward for those who can give a little more support to this project.
A Limited Edition “Notice” Art Print
One of my favorite images from the book will be offered as a limited print (an edition of 30, signed and numbered) on museum quality archival paper. Each print is 170mm x 240mm, the exact size of “Notice” and includes a white border to aid in framing.
That’s it for this week. You will receive a special email on Tuesday around 10 a.m. EST / 4 p.m. CET with a link to the “Notice” preorder page.
Keep shooting and take good care of yourselves and others.
PS One of the images from “Notice” is currently featured in the Humble Arts Foundation group show “Embracing Stillness” alongside the work of 74 talented photographers.
PPS I had a wonderful chat with Kris Karl on his Photography Podcast about growing up in my dad’s darkroom, my first ever camera, and the process of making “Notice”.
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Process is a weekly letter from Wesley Verhoeve.
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