I'm finally so, so excited to be able to let you know: I wrapped up all of the primary work on the book.
Last night, after finally solving a number of difficult thematic puzzles and writing challenges, I arrived at the conclusion of this project. I have endured a number of difficulties in the past months, including a sequence of dental surgeries and complications that left me barely coherent for five months, three back to the drawing board revisions, a computer meltdown (still ongoing), and a move, but I am comfortable saying that I met my goal of completing the book of Elk in the River before my wedding this weekend. I have had my hands quite full with things both challenging and wonderful.
So now that the book templates have been converted to an ebook, I have a few last clean-up steps to complete, which are: 1) having my ISBN barcode sent to me by the agency, 2) having my wonderful wife-to-be give a once-over to my copy, 3) run through any last changes I need to make (like possibly bumping up the font size throughout the book, and 4) ordering the physical proof copy to make sure everything looks right printed and adjusting as necessary.
At that point, the project will be complete, and the end result will be a 200-page, hardbound photography book, and an accompanying ebook. I cannot wait to have this book finally in my hands, in reality in front of me, and, hopefully, in front of you.
I also want you to know that everyone who pledged to this project will receiving a copy of the ebook that you can download as soon as I finish the final proofing, which I will link for download in an upcoming backer update.
I'd also love it if you visited my 500px page, where I have essentially shifted my collection of photography. Since Georgia, I have had a couple of opportunities to do some shooting locally. There is a little bit of work from NYC (including a couple of [non-destruction porn] post-Sandy photographs), some personal and portraiture of a trip to visit my best friend in Pittsburgh, and a snowstorm the neighborhood I recently moved from. I tacked a few of them on to the end of this post, after the book cover.
Over the last few weeks, I have been absorbing the new photographs from this project. There's a certain amount of distance that I need to take in order to present the best final project, so I can look critically and objectively at my work at make the right decisions about how to present it as a whole. This project added about 250 photos to my repertoire, about 100 or so of which will make it to the final product. Making those decisions is very difficult, but about a week ago I got to the point where I could do that.
Once I did that, the challenge was figuring out how to "build" it. My last work, Khamra Obscura, was huge but the organization was built into the concept. It was temporal and sequential. This project is the opposite. I could randomize the photos, but I think ultimately that is not the best way to tell the story and get the most out of the potential. I came up with a way that embraces the concept of the non-temporality and the changing story by choosing the "milestone" photographs and arranging them in an order that forms a framework. I'm taking the rest of the 75 or so and using them to expand on those ideas, putting them between the milestones.
The "main collection" book that I will self-publish through Blurb, as I have done my last two books, will have the full set of 100 photos in the locked sequence, and the artist books (which will be shorter) will use those milestones and tell an alternate story by rearranging the intermediate shots between.
Right now, I'm about 60% of the way through ordering the images for the full version, and making progress every night. It's a difficult thing to do--like writing a poem, but you can only rearrange the words you have. Putting more in the front changes how long it takes to get to the climax, and putting too much at the end extends the denouement.
That's where I am right now! If you haven't seen the photos yet, I hope you will check them out on flickr -- read back a couple of posts from here for instructions on how to get them.