Musings on Photography

SoFoBoMo 2009 Fuzzy Window closing

Posted in Solo Photo Book Month by Paul Butzi on June 30, 2009


In about 11 hours, the SoFoBoMo 2009 two month window closes here on the west coast of North America.

When the window closes, registration will close. There will be a week or so after the close to give folks a chance to work out any uploading quirks and get their PDF files uploaded, and then we’ll shut the upload off as well.

Right now there are 879 people registered. Rather to my surprise, there’s been a big rush of registrations in the last ten days – I don’t know if those were serious registrations or people joking, or people who are confused about when the whole thing wraps up.

Also, right now there are 188 books completed and uploaded. I know there are a few books which have been completed but which aren’t uploaded for various reasons. That’s ok – you don’t have to upload your book, although it’s more fun if you do. And if there are folks out there who don’t want to share, or don’t want to share the whole book (for whatever reason), you might consider uploading a ‘placeholder’ PDF, which will let us know that you finished but don’t want to share your book. I guess next year we’ll have some check box to indicate that you’ve finished but don’t want to upload, but for now even just a single page PDF would serve the same purpose.

I expect that we’ll see a rush of uploads in the next few days as the surge of last minute finishers manage to upload.

Yes, there will be another SoFoBoMo. And, of course, there will be some improvements. If you have suggestions, feel free to leave comments on this post or send me email.

One interesting observation: last year we had 170 participants and 60 finished books. This year we’ve got more than 5 times the participants and more than 3 times as many books finished. I wonder what things will be like next year.

11 Responses

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  1. Andreas Manessinger said, on June 30, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    It’s fantastic, huh? Every day or every other day I look at some books, and I guess this could well be the last time that I even have a chance to see all of those books within one year, leave a comment where I can, give recognition.

    I suppose we will experience some sort of crisis when all that is not possible any more. I dont know how it was for you, but even now I had no chance to follow all those blog postings. Sure, many I’ve read, I admit that I’ve more frequently been attracted to the known names, but nevertheless the sum of these blogs, along with what else I read, was well over my capacity.

    Thus, facing that growth, I think we will have to think about substitutes for the relative intimacy of the first two years. Whatever that may mean 🙂

  2. Martin Doonan said, on June 30, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    I’m greatly impressed with the care and quality of all the work I’ve looked at so far, makes some of mine seem rather slap-dash. Most seem to take this really seriously. I kept up with all the blogging (just) and am surprised by the variety of ways in which people use photography and the many different stories told.
    I was hoping it would get to 3x actual completions, the more people who participate, the more there are making photography a positive part of their life which can’t be all bad.

  3. Anita Jesse said, on June 30, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I am committed to participating in SoFoBoMo 2010. Once again, working on the project this year was rewarding and getting to know some more people was a huge bonus. Still, I confess to sharing Andreas’ thoughts about the size. I imagine what many of us will do is read the blogs and view the books of the folks that we already know, and then sample a few of the new entries.

    I remember your April Fools’ Day post, but wonder if you ever seriously imagined that this would grow as much as it has and this quickly. I hope you are proud of what you started. You have helped so many people.

  4. Markus Spring said, on June 30, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    This is a good time to first of all express my thanks to you, Paul, for organizing and driving this event. As Amy said, there is definitely reason enough to be really proud of what you have initialized in quite a number of us participants.

    The reward for me was immense, first of all by experiencing that I could do it and have finished it. The editing part was hard work, but definitely worth any minute I have spent with it. I guess most of the first time finishers will have similar feelings.

    The second part of the rewards are the books that now are available for reading and considering. So far I have seen thoughtful carved projects, diligently executed and a joy to read. Even when this event grows at a similar rate, there will still be the possibility to enjoy (and learn from) the work of others.

  5. Graham said, on June 30, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    It’s weird watching this close. I know I’ve said it more than once that my three week project was an extraordinary time for me. I page through the book I made, hard cover, paper jacket, and printed pages and think of how everything came together. I look through the books others have made and see some wild, cool, and yes, extraordinary works. To anyone reading this, if you haven’t looked at any of the books others have created, you deserve to spend some time looking at them, seeing what others have created.

    Will I do it next year? I have no idea. SoFoBoMo came to my attention early this year. I thought to do something on my current home town, and quickly discovered making this little bedroom community interesting was beyond me. When I focussed on a personal and professional interest, aviation, I was consumed. I have no idea how much time I spent on the project, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it exceeded 100 hours, planning included. There was never a consideration that I might not succeed; it was always, “When you start, you have a month to complete it.” I would complete it no matter what.

    I’m as the cheetah, seeing the prize, chasing it, and winning it. I’m not yet ready to consider another prize. At present I am sated. As with all accomplishments for me though, it won’t last. I’ll want more.

  6. Amy Sakurai said, on June 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I suspect some people were waffling on the commitment to the project and didn’t sign up until they’d gotten far enough along that they knew they could deliver within the allotted time. Hence the last-minute signups.

    We are no longer an intimate community – in only two years! The model of NaNoWriMo is already upon us – an individual activity in a sea of participants bound together by name and calendar and not much else, I’m afraid. *Solo* Photo Book Month, indeed. Still, if the number of participants multiplies again, there should be enough people who would actively participate in an online forum.

    Many and deep thanks to you, Paul… and to Bernie and Gordon and everyone else who helped pull this together for a second year. Time and effort are not free.

    I feel extremely fortunate that I participated in SoFoBoMo last year and met so many cool people then – whose blogs I continue to follow today. That was a special, one-time blessing for which I’m grateful.

  7. ejeschke said, on July 1, 2009 at 12:23 am

    I concur with the above comments. It’s a neat event. I thought that my interest would wane this year, but after I finally got rolling I really enjoyed it just as much or more than last year. Have to say, participating in the inaugural year was kind of special… the blog traffic was so much higher this year I could not follow it as closely as last.

    Hope the event carries on. I must say, it might be fun to look back in twenty years at some of the first books again…

    –Eric Jeschke

  8. Hugh Alison said, on July 1, 2009 at 2:33 am

    I didn’t even manage to get started this year due to unplanned work pressures, but I am hoping to do better next year. I think I may have to schedule some holiday time for it.

    My thanks to Paul and Bernie for starting and nurturing something quite special.

  9. My Camera World said, on July 1, 2009 at 5:51 am

    Thanks again Paul for your vision and effort in making the photo book project happen again.

    Also thank to all the participants who completed their books as there are truly very many good books produced. I will over time read every one because they are good and in everyone I learn something.

    To all those who did not finish or were not sure they could do it please remember that;

    If you love what you are doing there will be at a minimum great parts in the book if not the whole book. Next year there will be more great parts.

    You will learn and I think learn a lot by participating.

    Like any great adventure that has arduous parts along the way, when finished these will actually be great memories.

    One day you will actually print a book.

    There is a special bond and respect that comes from sharing projects together and it builds a stronger photographic community.

    Niels Henriksen

  10. John said, on July 1, 2009 at 6:21 am

    One of the most rewarding creative experience I’ve ever had. I wanted to use the project to move my photography forward, and I feel it did so. Thanks so much to all the organizers!

    Next year it would be nice to be able to enter comments for each entry.

    Also, perhaps an FAQ on preparing a PDF. After much experimenting, I found what I thought was a good method, but I noticed many struggled with this.


  11. John said, on July 2, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Paul –
    I just wanted to add my thanks for running this project yet again. It was a blast and one of these years, I will get my submission in before the final ultimate deadline, maybe.
    I am glad to see that it is growing in popularity and that more people are giving it a try. I also like the fact that the books are hosted on the website in PDF format. I ran into some trouble last year trying to look at some of the books due to the various formats in which they were stored.
    I have plenty of new ideas for next year’s book but if experience is any guide, all of them will be tossed aside as I find something else that captures my attention.
    Thanks again.

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