Musings on Photography

SoFoBoMo 2008 – If you didn’t finish

Posted in Solo Photo Book Month by Paul Butzi on October 25, 2008

If you signed up for SoFoBoMo 2008, but you didn’t complete a book, I’d be very interested in knowing why.

Too big a commitment? Thought you’d have a month clear, and it didn’t work out that way? Trouble with tools? Trouble with getting enough photos?

Whatever the reason, I’d like to hear about it. If you’re comfortable sharing in public, feel free to post a comment here. If you’d rather not make it public, feel free to send email (address to the right).

I’m not looking to make people feel bad, here. I’m wondering if there’s some resource we can provide or something we can change that will get the completion rate above the pretty amazing rate we got for SoFoBoMo 2008.

14 Responses

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  1. Brian Small said, on October 25, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Technical difficulties; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. My “fuzzy month” came at the beginning of a cross Canada road trip with my wife and kids. We started on the east coast in Nova Scotia. My plan was to shoot the photos in Halifax then edit on the road west. The shooting part went fine. I had no trouble coming up with 35 photos I was happy with. The “editing on the road” part was a fiasco however. Laptop and software problems compounded by a lack of usable internet connections killed any hope of meeting the SoFoBoMo deadline.
    Now that six months have passed maybe I can post some of the images without feeling like a SoFoBoMo wanna-be.

  2. ron said, on October 25, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    For me it was a lack of material. I picked a rather narrow subject but which I thought was broader. Without going into too many details, I thought there would be enough variety of a certain type of thing in my small town to pull it off, but it was not to be. Or so I thought… I’ve since found more and may try again next time, or pick something different.

  3. Steve Scherbinski said, on October 26, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I did the shooting and editing part just fine. In fact it went really well. Then I got busy with “stuff” I just had to get done and ran out of time. The lack of time at the end meant I never had time to sit down and figure out how to lay out pages.

    Hopefully 2009 will turn out better.

  4. Christian Ahn said, on October 26, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Hi Paul,

    I found this a great question of yours and like to give my two cents:

    I had a good theme (still think so) and don’t think making the book (technically) would have posed a problem for me. But for me it was simple:

    I did not find the time to take the photographs!

    I planned on doing it in May since I had other commitments in April, May came and went without me taking a SINGLE picture for my project! Hence no book either!

    With a full daytime job and two kids it’s really hard, but I will try again next year and therefore I really like you starting SoFoBo 2009 already!

    Looking forward to it


    P.S.: I know that it is my fault for the greatest part. I need to TAKE the time!

  5. GL said, on October 26, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    New job. 😦 (I didn’t sign up, although I hoped to participate.) I did some preparation, but then the new job hit, and I really had no energy left over.

    Would having some book templates available help some people? I know an individually crafted layout, writing, etc would given an especial feeling of “I did it all myself”, but would a leg up on the non-photography part of the project help some people?

    I hope to take part next year, new job or not. (Yup, it’ll be new job time again … just lucky, I guess.)


  6. Ed Richards said, on October 26, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    InDesign templates would be a real help, either contributed by users or if you know of a source of cheap commerical ones.

  7. Gordon McGregor said, on October 27, 2008 at 7:00 am

    I wonder how much of the non-finished attempts could be more honestly chalked up to fear and internal self-doubt. I don’t expect many or any participants to own up to this one, other than maybe to themselves. I’m also not pointing fingers at anyone that’s responded or will respond to this thread.

    Fear is a pretty powerful motivator in this artistic thing. Fear of it not being good enough, fear of people not getting it. Worried that you are just wasting your time and other people’s.

    The naggy self-censor in your head kicks in and tells you what a joke it is and nobody would want to look at it. Or you start comparing against what other people have done and just know _know_ that what you are doing doesn’t measure up. So if it isn’t good enough, why embarrass yourself publicly. Easier just to to stop now. Stop wasting your time and do all those other things that you need to do that are more important, that you know how to do and people won’t laugh at you for doing.

    Or maybe it isn’t art and you don’t aspire to be an artist with your camera. It’s all just taking pictures and then its easy. Or perhaps you do aspire to be an artist with your camera and are concerned you’ve got nothing to say. Put it in a book and everyone will realise there’s nothing to say in your head. No voice. Boring. Hide it away again.

    The time pressure was a realistic issue with SoFoBoMo. Much to do, little time to do it, particularly if you think of the ‘final’ product as an actual final product. The National Novel in a Month looks at the output as a first draft – expecting heavy revision – but it is about getting it done, down on paper as a starting point.

    I suspect the album in a month challenge is similar – those aren’t supposed to be the final cuts of the tracks – just getting them recorded once and into something you can then move forward.

    So maybe we set the bar a bit high with aiming for a finished book? Maybe a finished draft would be better, with an expectation of further editing to come.

    I would be really curious to know how many SoFoBoMo entries went beyond the end of the month to further revise and reprint and improve? I know for mine I did very little tweaking – done was done. I reprinted with a different cover finish, but didn’t change the book at all, other than a slight re-tweaking of the image colours to suit the print output of the first print.

    Maybe SoFoBoMo needs another piece 6 months offset from the initial draft, where we tidy up and finish the work? Maybe re-edit, tweak, reconsider etc and really make the final book with a less biased and involved eye?

  8. Nick Adams said, on October 27, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    That’s a good question. One that I hadn’t asked myself, and should have. The short answer is that I got busy chasing women… well, woman… but I had planned to use the project to support one of her projects. It would have played very well into our relationship.

    Let me back up a bit. I had planned to shoot a local development site. My girlfriend, now ex, was part of a movement to try and stop the development of the land. The more I looked into my subject matter, the more I disagreed with her stance. So, I think the conflicting interests affecting my project caused me to loose focus.

    (and, the property owners put up no trespassing signs after my 2nd shoot on the land. I’m told you have to suffer for your art, but I’m not a fan of going to jail for a cause I only support by proxy.)

  9. Con Daily said, on October 29, 2008 at 8:25 am

    I didn’t sign up. Wanted to, but knew I’d be too busy at that time to add another project. I did, however, read about and view the completed projects with great interest. I hope to be able to participate in a future SoFoBoMo.

  10. Jerry Freeman said, on November 1, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    I found out about the project 24hrs before the deadline, but did it in one day for the personal challenge. I did not enter as the spirit of the project was to do it over the month, but I’m ready for 2009.

  11. dkwett said, on November 1, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    I did finish this year, and will probably do it again next. It was a challenge, and difficult at times, but that made it all the more satisfying to do it.

    My vote would be for not changing a thing. Part of the pleasure was seeing people work things out as they worked through their projects, and seeing the variety of approaches and interpretations in the results.

  12. Rick said, on November 2, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Gordon, I think your comment pretty much sums up my excuse. I told myself that I wanted to do the book. Heck I even signed up in hopes that by signing up it would force me to do the book. In the end, my excuse was that I could not come up with anything for a book.

  13. tommune said, on November 21, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Combination of time and conflicting efforts. I was going to do my photo book about our family trip to Colorado. (I had about 30 ideas, but chose this one.) During the trip, my sister announced she wanted to do a special scrapbook about the trip. That combined with my brother-in-law taking such amazing panoramic shots and better shots of my dad than I was taking… and yadda yadda yadda.

    I think my mistake was making something for the first book so meaningful, and then my sister all excited to do the same thing, but not wanting to then steal her thunder… also, I wanted it to be a surprise for the family, and with her doing one, it would kinda just be another one. Next time, much simpler and doable.

  14. tommune said, on November 21, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Oh, and Gordon, good point… I think what you did, doing a practice book before the REAL book, was genius. Took all the worry out of the way — you COULD finish one. Now you just had to take the photos and finish one the way you wanted.

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