Ever since I returned to writing for myself a couple of years ago, I knew that I would want to compile and print my journaling in a hard copy format so that I could read my words in the same way that I would read an actual book. Creating these journals was truly a labour of love in the most beautiful way, and every time I hold these books in my hand and read my own heartfelt words, I am reminded of the need to keep writing to my dying day...

When I saw this blog post by my friend Liz from Paislee Press, I completely re-imagined this project and I decided to create Moleskine books through MILK Books.

The first step was to decide on a book format. This was a simple decision, as I didn't want the books to be too big and I ideally wanted them to be vertical in orientation. Plus, my intention from the very beginning was to print books without images, as I wanted these to feel more like (written) memoirs rather than photo books. With all this in mind, I quickly settled on the Classic Photo Notebook, which was the same format that Liz used for her photo book.

 I knew from the outset that I would be creating my own layouts in Adobe InDesign, so the second step was to set up a template using the software. To do this, I needed to know what size to make the pages. After playing with the web editor for a while, I realised that all full-page images are inserted into the book with a certain amount of bleed. (This is not the case with all photo book printing vendors so it is definitely worth clarifying printing specifications like this when you use a new printing company for the first time.) So even though the final size of the notebook is 5.12" x 8.15" (ie. 130mm x 207mm), I worked out that I actually needed to set up my pages in InDesign to be 140mm x 220mm, if I wanted my text to print at the 'right' size. (If I didn't do this, my words would be 'blown up' slightly due to the bleed requirement and the text would also appear closer to the edge of the page. More about this below.)

Once I set up the page size correctly at 140mm x 220mm, I created the following internal margins: 5mm for left/right, and 6.5mm for top/bottom. These internal margins acted as a important visual guide for me; whatever appeared inside these margins was what would appear on the printed page, and the area lying on the outside was essentially the bleed.

My biggest design tip when it comes to formatting text is to always create sufficient space between the text and the edge of the page. If there is not enough space, your page will inevitably look cramped and clumsy. This is why finding out about the bleed requirement as discussed above, and re-adjusting my page template accordingly, was such a crucial step. Taking into account the page size, I decided on 17mm as my page margin.

From there, I needed to typeset some sample text and that would essentially become my design template for the books. For each page, I worked out that I wanted to have a title for the journaling, the journaling itself (ie. the body copy), and the journaling date at the bottom of the page in place of page numbers.

I already had a template from a story book that I created over two years ago to document my pregnancy with Edward. That story book was a similar size to the Moleskine Classic Photo Notebook so I retrieved the file, copied over all my typesetting, and used that as a basis for the new template. I kept the typeface and font size for the body copy as Century Schoolbook and 8pt respectively. For the page title, I kept the typeface as Times Italic, but I reduced the font size from 14pt to 12pt so that the title wouldn't look disproportionately big in relation to the Moleskine page size (the other story book was wider). Plus, as much as possible, I didn't want my page titles to have to go over two lines. For the date at the bottom of the page, I decided to go with a contrasting typeface to make it clear that it was separate to the body copy; I chose a Light version of Helvetica Neue, which is my favourite sans serif typeface. I settled on 7pt as the font size so that the date wouldn't visually intrude on the page, and I also increased the kerning dramatically so that the date would stretch further across the page. In this way, the date almost doubled as a graphic element that marked the end of each page.

Once I was happy with the page template, I set about gathering all my personal writing from the previous years and working out how to split it over a few volumes. Unlike other story books that I've made in the past, the Moleskine Classic Photo Notebook has a set number of pages: 96. This made the process just a little trickier, but nothing that couldn't be worked around. First, I downloaded all my personal posts from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 from both my old Pink Ronnie blog and The Shoemaker's Daughter blog using a software called MarsEdit. Then, I retrieved any additional personal journaling that I'd done via Simplenote (you can read more about that in this blog post). As I looked at all the words that I had from a 'big picture' perspective, I basically culled a series of posts that I didn't feel were personal enough or that warranted a separate story book of its own. This was perhaps the most lengthy and consuming part of the entire process, as it involved reading through a few year's worth of personal writing. By the end of it, I had words to fill a combined 2011/2012 volume, a 2013 volume, and a 2014 volume. Having a few blank pages at the end of each volume didn't worry me.

From there, the rest of the process was quite straightforward. I created a separate InDesign file for each volume and pasted in the page template that I'd created. I then duplicated the page template within each of the files until I had the requisite 96 number of pages. It then became a simple matter of copying and pasting in the text for each of the three volumes. I did this chronologically so that older journal entires appeared at the beginning of each volume, and the newer ones appeared towards the end.

Once all my pages for the three books were completed in InDesign, I exported the pages as JPEG images and then uploaded these to the online MILK Book Editor. I particularly liked the Quick Create function, which allows you to quickly and easily populate each of the 96 pages with full-page images. (I will try to add a tutorial for this to our Videos page at some point.)

For the cover images, I decided to stick with photos that I'd taken of my feet to represent the personal journey that I've been on. More importantly, I knew that I would be making more of these books down the track, and it would be easy to replicate the same type of image to create a consistent look and feel across the different volumes. All I had to do was upload the relevant cover image to the online editor when prompted and then crop/reposition it so that my feet were centred in the space. Similarly, for the book titles, I simply used the online editor to typeset the year(s) in capital letters, ie. TWENTY FOURTEEN for 2014, TWENTY THIRTEEN for 2013, etc.

Less than two weeks later, my books arrived in the mail, and I couldn't have been more pleased and happy with how they turned out. They were exactly as I imagined them to be, and the use of genuine Moleskine materials is simply unbeatable. Just holding these books in my hand is incentive enough to keep writing my heart out so that I can make more of them!

You can read more from Ronnie, purchase her templates, and learn about her online classes on her website Life Captured Inc. 
You can connect with her on:
Instagram @lifecapturedinc
Facebook www.facebook.com/lifecapturedinc
Twitter @lifecapturedinc https://twitter.com/lifecapturedinc

On the first anniversary of her death, today, we are celebrating American photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark. Mary Ellen Mark was an American photojournalist whose compelling empathetic images, mostly in black and white, documented the lives of marginalised people in the US and other countries.

I’ve done photography my whole working life. It is what I do. I used to like it a lot but it has changed a lot.

Margaret Joyce’s First Communion, Travellers’ Encampment, Finglas, Ireland, 1991.
I like the idea of being able to capture a moment in time, but all that has changed now with people being able to Photoshop images so much. You don’t know what is real any more and what isn’t. But I am an analog photographer and it is about capturing the moment of reality. It hasn’t changed for me: I shoot film and I will continue to shoot film. I think it is more beautiful. It is the reason I became a photographer. I am not an illustrator; a lot of the digital, Photoshopped photography is what I would call illustration, not photography. With that kind of work the post-production guy is probably the most important guy in the process.

My big thing was to use magazine assignments almost as grants. But it is harder now to make things happen as they are so interested in celebrity, not documentary work. The climate has changed for doing serious stories. The control advertising has on the magazine medium is more, and editorial no longer want to give the assignments they used to. Now photography is very seldom used to record truth in the magazines, it is used more as decoration. The future of documentary photography is not in a healthy state.

I see better in black and white. Perhaps I’m even a bit color-blind. It’s also the subject matter that I pick that I think works better in black and white.

I just finished doing this project on the Prom, using the 20x24 camera. Having done a book on twins with this camera, I then wanted to find another project where I could really use it right. I love that camera. Unfortunately they stopped making the black- and-white film. I love the ways the prints look—they are beautiful objects, incredible tonality and detail.

Christopher with His Kitten, Sandgap, Kentucky, 1990.
You have to really finalize your decisions when using it. Not only do you have a limited amount of time to work with people, but the film is incredibly expensive. You don’t have the chance to do it this way and that way. I try to shoot four frames, have a series and something you can exhibit. You have to really be in control of your lighting—you are making and taking a picture at the same time. People are amazed by the camera. It is the opposite of digital photography. You are making the decisions all upfront and you can’t just go for it in post-production.

My main influences come from photography and film. I have done a lot of work on film sets. Fellini I adore; if I was going to say just one name as an influence or inspiration, it would probably be him. He presented an amazing world and an amazing imagination, but all based in neorealism. He’s a realist.
I choose things because they have a chance of being visual. The choice is not based on words; it is based on the visual. Sometimes I have worked with writers, and it can be very helpful. But for me a picture has to stand on its own. If it needs text it is not truly visual. For me it is all about the single image.

With celebrity images they often work just because it is a famous face, and it is nothing more. I want to do more. The thing with making a celebrity image is to get beyond the celebrity.
I was lucky with the picture I took of Fellini from behind. I followed him around that day on the set. He has a bullhorn and seems to be almost dancing, like a character in one of his films.
Irony is in my work. You are conscious of what you are looking at and why, it’s in your way of looking. Then you learn how to express it as you become an experienced photographer.

There’s an evolution over the years. There are certain things you are interested in, certain themes, and they manifest themselves in your projects. Things carry through. I would love to do more work on the circus, maybe in Russia or China. And I have always wanted to photograph the gypsy camps in Ireland.
Federico Fellini on the Set of Satyricon, Rome, Italy, 1969.

Photography has a lesser role today, less opportunity to make a difference, and there is less investment in making the real human-interest stories. Magazines like Life and Look, they are not there. I am lucky, I think, that I got to do some of the work the way I did. Lucky I just did the Prom project before the slowdown. Let’s hope somehow good comes out of that.

If you do great pictures it is fine art, no matter what. The galleries manipulate things, the market. If you deliberately set out to be an artist, that is the wrong way to think as a photographer. The work should be great, and that is all that is important. If people want it, and want it to put on their walls, that’s great too.

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Ever found yourself in front of an iconic monument or building, like the Eiffel tower, Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera house, and taken a great photo only to realise you’ve seen this exact image a thousand times before? Chances are, the tourist standing a metre away from you took an identical photo as well. So how do you get something different? How do you capture an image you’re proud of, an image that’s memorable, and an image that shows a unique point of view?

When I’m encountering something that’s been shot frequently and I need to be different or engaging, I use one of the following methods:

1) Shoot wider or tighter
People are so familiar with popular monuments that they could recognize it by seeing just a small part of it. Most people who haven’t been to Paris, still know what the Eiffel Tower looks like; what they may not have seen, though, is the detail of the monument or what surrounds it. Use that to your advantage. Capture the intricate details that people often don’t get to see. Zoom in on the material used, showing just a hint of what the building is.

Alternatively, give the monument some scale by shooting wide and incorporating the surrounding environment. Even if the surrounds aren’t as attractive as the monument itself, it still adds attention to the image and gives those unfamiliar with the city, a better idea of where exactly the monument is situated.



2) Walk away from the monument 
You read it right; walk away! I always try to walk at least 500m – 1km away from the monument. I can guarantee you at some point along that walk, you’ll come across a totally different angle taken from a different environment, and still capture the monument in the shot. You may see a glimpse of the monument through a small gap. You may even get a clean, unhindered view, free from tourists. Regardless, it will be different and you may even enjoy the experience a little more.

3) Allow the monument to be the backdrop to everyday life 
This is a common method used by documentary photographers. It’s certainly a key element in my own style of travel photography and my method of choice when it comes to creating unique shots of iconic buildings or monuments. Quite often tourists, touts or the general public will get in the way of your photos, so why not make a conscious effort to incorporate them in it? Don’t watch the monument, be in its presence but keep your focus on its visitors. It will require you to people watch and be a fly on the wall but if you’re patient enough, someone will do something eye-catching in front of the monument and at that moment you’ll have the shot.

4) Shoot at the golden hour 
An hour before sunset or soon after sunrise is what photographers refer to as ‘The golden hour’. If I had a choice, I would always shoot an iconic building at sunrise. The quality of light during the golden hour is typically warmer and softer than midday. It can also provide great, long shadows that add another strong visual component to a photo.  You may even capture some interesting images of the locals and their interactions with the monument when you shoot outside of peak hours.

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake is a travel photographer, represented by Lonely Planet / Getty Images. He works on assignment for editorial, NGOs, and commercial clients, with his work used in publications such as TIME, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera, Condé Nast and Der Spiegel. Asanka’s style is recognisable, with an eye for shooting in natural light and an interest in candid, daily life imagery.

Follow Asanka:

This week we look at Pieter Hugo, a South African photographer who primarily works in portraiture and whose work engages with both documentary and art traditions with a focus on African communities.

Escort Kama, Enugu, Nigeria, 2008.
You have said that you distrust the portrait since is doesn’t convey the truth. What, then, is it supposed to convey?
Sometimes I look at my work and how people read it, and it has no relationship to what I might have experienced in taking the picture or what I might get from it. There’s no absolute truth in what a portrait can convey. I think the way I view photography is closer to poetry than to documentary. This makes me think of filmmaker Werner Herzog, who says he is not interested in relaying an accountant’s truth in his documentaries. It’s one thing to portray something and to give an inventory of facts, and another to use those facts to your own ends, to achieve something that Herzog defines as an ecstatic truth, an experiential truth. I think this is something that can be related to portraits. Mostly, I am not particularly interested in conveying the actual truth about a person – and I would be extremely distrustful if that was someone’s intention. But a portrait can definitely convey some kind of emotive experience, or ecstatic experience, and some level of identification and catharsis that one experiences in relation to the portrait.

Do you think you also benefit emotionally from the portrait practice?
Richard Avedon, in his preface to In the American West, said, “Sometimes I think all my pictures are just pictures of me. My concern is ... the human predicament; only what I consider the human predicament may simply be my own.” Taking portraits implies a dynamic, but at the end of the day it is the photographer who has complete control. You choose the edit, the setting, the angle; and one shouldn’t lose sight of this. You have certain preoccupations that you follow through, and you do your investigations and spend time on certain matters; and at some stage your pictorial characters, whether they’re portraits, landscapes, still lifes or constructed realities, start taking on a life of their own, and you have to acknowledge this. It’s the same with a novel. A good novelist knows when his characters are three-dimensional and he can’t dictate what their lives are any more; they start living their own lives. You set certain things in motion with your project, but your subjects become something completely different eventually. They are independent entities.

Dayaba Usman with the Monkey, Clear, Nigeria, 2005. 
How much are you influenced by writers?
I collect photography books, I like looking at photography books, but I definitely have a deeper, almost more spiritual response to literature than to looking at other people’s work. Ideas to me come from literature; refinement comes from looking at other people’s work. I realize how far I can take it, how well it can be done, by looking at other photographers. But I rarely get inspiration from looking at other artists – in a way it would feel like copying them. Literature for intellectual ideas and the fine arts, not only photography but painting and artistic visual references, are the water that makes the seed germinate. And engagement with a gallery, for a show or project, is the catalyst of the creative process. These things are useful – I need a framework to set things in motion.

You have said that landscapes are other characters in the story, and the on your recent trip to Umtata you felt more at ease with landscape that with people. Do you see this as a shift in your approach?
I find the process of making portraits much more immediately intense, while landscapes can leave more room for questioning and contemplation. It is about looking at something that is interesting to you, and then asking yourself why it is interesting, and deciding when you make the photograph: “What do I include and what do I exclude?” I guess it depends on the preoccupations that you have while shooting.

And what are your preoccupations? What is behind the whim that initially sets the process in motion?
I think I generally have a compulsion to do something and afterward I deconstruct why I did it and what attracted me to it. With time you notice that certain threads keep repeating themselves: frailty, vanitas. I noticed I kept getting drawn to these things without necessarily having the intellectual capacity to understand them; I only understood them later on. As a kid, I listened to gothic music, I used to dress in black, but at the same time I was a surfer. Maybe this is why I ended up being a photographer – a weird combination of morbid fascination and outdoorsiness! I also have political preoccupations – I walk into an abandoned and desecrated hospital in Umtata and I feel angry about it. I suddenly feel like an activist, not an artist. I have definitely seen photographic works that have changed my life; maybe not changed how I feel about a specific topic, but it is hard to generalize. I think of David Goldblatt’s landscapes, In the Time of AIDS – they made me aware of the fact that a landscape is not fixed but actually changes, and this profoundly influenced the way I look at the world around me. This comforts me and disturbs me at the same time, since it made me realize that you have to take a position, take responsibility.

In Nollywood, you seem to be exploring more in depth the fictional aspect of your work, your relation to literature and writing. Your relationship with your subjects touches another realm, since they are actively reproducing something that is in your mind, and giving a new shape and new perspective to your ideas.
Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Nigeria, 2005.
I have been taking pictures like the Nollywood series since I was a teenager. The first picture I took was very similar to the Nollywood spirit: I used to go out with friends on an impulse to create something, in a very spontaneous way. It was probably naive, but for this reason there was a strong energy in the results. Obviously as I got older things became more complex. I don’t see it as a new thing; on the contrary, it’s me returning to something that used to interest me in the past. It is interesting to be able to switch between different media: as a writer can write a novel or literary criticism or an article for a newspaper supplement. Understanding the nature of language is the real empowerment, and then you explore. If I look back at my teenage pictures, they are much more similar to the Nollywood images than what I shot in between.

So with new means and different level of craftsmanship and mastery of the medium, you produce something that is still close to your first vision and relationship with photography.
A friend once pointed out to me: if you want to know what to do with your life, or you’re confused, think of what made you happy when you were a teenager and you will probably be quite close emotionally to an honest answer.

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It seems the stuff of dreams, to do what you love and love what you do, but what really happens when the lines begin to blur?

This week, Austin based photographer Geoff Duncan talks about how he balances his passion for photography and his professional work and why it’s so important for photographers to “shoot for self”.

Shoot For Self: Why Personal Work is Important for Professionals

Every photographer I know seems to have an interesting story to tell about the first time they picked up a camera.

For me, it happened back in 2008 when I traveled to Ethiopia for the first time. I was just your typical broke college student with less than a month of living expenses in the bank, when the day before my flight I decided that I needed a better camera to document my trip. Funny enough, my dad actually advised against my decision and suggested that I save the money and just bring the point and shoot I already had.

As you probably guessed, I bought the camera anyways and it was love at first shutter. There was something about capturing a moment in time that wouldn’t let me go, and I’ve been photographer ever since.

Nowadays, I am lucky enough to be running a successful photography business in Austin, Texas. But I’ve experienced plenty of up’s and down’s over the course of my career; I’ve gone through seasons of inspiration, as well as seasons of burn out.

I can vividly remember the first time I felt burnt out just few years back; my business was growing by leaps and bounds, and to the outside world things seemed to be going great, but on the inside I was struggling. Somewhere along the way I had allowed my passion for photography turn into nothing but a job, and I hated that feeling.

When I was taking photos, I was working for a paycheck and I had very little motivation to continue. Something had to change. I longed to feel the same curiosity about the world around me that I felt when my interest in photography first began.

Then one day I took to the streets with my camera just for fun, shooting friends and whatever else I could find. Later that night when I got home, instead of backing up the files to my computer like normal, I made the conscious decision to format my memory card, never to see the photos again. It was liberating! Soon I realized that shooting for self inspired my other work, and I began to rekindle my passion for this craft.

It was about the same time that I started using Instagram regularly. I’ve met a lot of cool people over the years thanks to the app. We will explore the city with our iPhones and leave our cameras at home. It’s fun and challenging to use nothing but the camera on your phone, and you will gain a much better understanding for light.

There is no perfect formula. But I encourage you to get out there with your camera and start shooting for yourself! And then I hope you will rediscover your passion and curiosity for photography again.

You can follow me here:

Website: www.geodun.com 
Instagram: @geoffduncan
Twitter: @notgeoffduncan 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/geoffduncanphotography

This week we look at the photographer Platon, known for his portraits of presidents and world figures. In 2007 he photographed Russian Premier Vladimir Putin for Time Magazine, this image was awarded 1st prize at the World Press Photo Contest.

Ozzy Osbourne
Coming from a graphics background was the best thing for my photography: it taught me to appreciate design and to understand where art directors are coming from. In many ways, I still think of myself as a graphic designer or art director as much as a photographer. Some photographers working for magazines can be fighting the type that is placed around or on the image. I understand it, it is natural to me.

I am dyslexic. My pictures make something simple out of something complicated perhaps because I can’t really function with a lot of complicated things on a page. My simplification to a powerful graphic form works well for the covers of magazines and makes for images that stand out. It is like I produce a logo of somebody’s face.

 The most important thing is the people. It is not about photography for me so much as the chance to interact with people, study them, and get to know them a little. I record what I find on film. I never assume that the picture I take is a universal truth – half of it is me, my decision to press the shutter, what I said to them just before I did that. It is what happened between us. It is a very weird job, portraiture.
Al Gore

 Often you work under the worst circumstances. When I took a picture of Putin, it was shocking how difficult it was to get there. All that dealing with the Kremlin, getting past the security people and protocol, being driven to his private dacha in a forest outside Moscow; it was like a cold war movie. And I have to be sure I give Time magazine what they needed, while making sure it is a good picture by my standards; and you have to achieve this with the seven minutes you get to work with him having gone all that way. Now this guy takes journalists apart for breakfast, while I am not at all intellectual about what I do, totally intuitive. So I deal with him in a human way – that is all I can do. I have to be honest about my strengths and particularly about my weaknesses.

Barack Obama
You can read a picture in many ways. With the Putin picture half the people in Russia said I made him look too glamorous, while the other half said I made him look too icy cold. He’s a macho man, a tough guy, not fluffy or charming, but has a quiet charisma. We talked about the Beatles, my mum. It was human and we had a laugh. My picture was as much about that as about him as a person, because it is how I feel about him. So when I took him sitting in this chair, looking up at him slightly, the low angle came from a sense of humility, of looking at somebody larger than life. I shoot with a Hasselblad, and if I am standing over somebody it is intimidating for them. So I have learned to sit down on the floor and chat to people, and that gets people leaning forward; they stop feeling insecure and feel they are more in control. When they are more confident the magic starts to come out. And that lower angle also gives an interesting point of view.

At the beginning of my career, everybody was art directing me – the art director, the editor-in-chief, and of course the subject might not like something. And on top of that we now have the publicists watching every move I make. “What lens are you using? How are you cropping down? We only want a smiley picture! I don’t want this, I don’t want that!” I learned you can’t battle with this, you have to win with charm, otherwise you put everybody’s back up and you get nothing. You try to win confidence as much as you can, delivering something that they are happy with but is also true to yourself. You have to be true to yourself at the end of the day. The images you give them often disappear, but the ones that are true to your instincts end up being the ones that resonate.
Christopher Walken 

Working with The New Yorker is humbling; it is teaching me and making me a better photographer. Everything I shoot I have to read a thirty-page essay in advance. But I like this: I am hungry to learn, keen to be thrown in the deep end. The world of celebrity photographers, who become almost bigger than the subjects, is a dangerous position for a photographer to find themselves in. That’s not me and I don’t want it. I want to be humble, keen to learn. Some people come to a shoot a little intimidated by you, and that is awful. I want to be the one that is intimidated. I am more observant then. It shouldn’t be about me and my style. I need to be lower. That’s how I like to operate. I have to work hard not to have people coming with preconceived ideas.

 There are people I really want to shoot that I haven’t yet. George Bush, Junior is one. I used to want to get people at the pinnacle of their powers, but now I find it more interesting to get people on the way up or down. On the way up it is before all cameras are on them, and you see them in a more naive form; and on the way down they can be looking back with pride or remorse, which is interesting, and they open up. They say things to me often when chatting, because I am not a journalist.
Sylvestor Stallone

 It is not all about powerful people. I return to the Greek islands often where I am working on portraits with villagers from where my family came. They are old and young, farmers and fishermen, children. To me it is perhaps the most stimulating situation – you have to work even harder with these people who don’t care about promotion, exposure in the press and the like. An old lady there can be as tough as Putin. It is also a joy to photograph a farmer in old clothes and with mashed-up dirty fingernails after photographing lots of people in suits. I find myself craving for it.

 Van Gogh’s drawings haunt me, and I am yearning to do a little of that with photography. There is a tactile quality. Sometimes you have to be more abstract to tell the truth – tell about something by the sensations you communicate, more than just make a straightforward document. The feeling in the work can be so vivid and real, albeit it might not look like something in the simple sense. My task is not only to show what somebody looks like in my portraits, but to get across what it is like to meet them, touch them, and how they made me feel. It is emotional stuff.

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One photo. One story. Every week for a year.

When New York based photographer Winky Lewis moved to Maine to 2001 to raise a family, she couldn’t have imagined the book that would come out of her new family life.

In what began as an experiment with her neighbour, novelist Susan Conley would go on for a year.

At the beginning of each week, Winky would send a photo to Susan, who would then respond with a few lines of prose.

Week after week, their ritual endured and became a little reprieve between school drop-offs, workdays, play-dates, and emergency cups of coffees. Soon a story began to take shape amidst the chaos of family life, as the women explored the beauty in these daily moments captured in image and text.

A year later, they had a book: 'Stop Here, This is the Place', a beautiful collection of images and words that give voice to both the tender, bittersweet experiences of motherhood.

"Stop Here, This is the Place' is both a beautiful collection of memories as well mother’s attempt to slow the passing of childhood – to live in and learn from the beautiful little moments between mother and child. Often, as children, we look towards the future, and it appears infinite. As parents, we are given the opportunity to re-experience childhood through the lives of our kids, but now we are equipped with the knowledge that this time will pass all too quickly.

Lewis and Conley’s work reminds us to stop for a moment, to take a breath, and to appreciate life as it is. It’s a moving reminder that sometimes we are exactly where we need to be.

You can read more Stop Here, This is the Place and get your own copy at www.stopherethisistheplace.com .

This week we look at Steve Pyke, a British photographer currently working as the staff photographer for The New Yorker. Pyke has also published work in diverse publications including The Face and NME. Pyke’s path to photography started when he became involved in the turbulent music scene in the late 70s, singing in a number of bands, helping establish a record label and fanzine; during this time he also began to experiment with photography. By 1980 he abandoned rock music for visual arts. Pyke readily admits his interest in photography was propelled by his fascination with the face.

Augusto Pinochet, London, 1998. For The New Yorker.
I have always been uncomfortable with the phrase “taking pictures.” I think it’s all wrong. Mostly I think there is an understanding that takes place during a portrait session between the photographer and the subject. For us both it’s more about an exchange, giving rather than taking. My portraits are the result of conversation.

The human face signals our emotions, suggests our cultural background. It is the naked part that we present to the world; our faces speak realms about our identity. Our faces anchor us to our histories, our stories, and the stories of our ancestors. Our faces change with time and our faces absorb the passage of time. We tell our stories through our faces: how we present ourselves, how we use this personal canvas to convey not only our emotions, but also histories and identities.

When taking a portrait I rarely look into the ground glass of my camera except to momentarily check composition. I engage my sitters—we speak for far more time than I photograph. At certain points in our conversation I will photograph. It must be instinctual by now, but also I hope it creates spontaneity. Most of my frames are made looking at, and interacting with, my sitters.

Sam Fuller, Film Director, 1982.
Portraits are unusual situations as people are not usually experienced in having strangers get this close. I tend to work close. But I think I’m open in conversation with people, which is where we meet each other, and by the time we start the portrait session they are open to it. It’s rare for anyone to recoil or deny access.

I can only count three or four situations—in nearly thirty years of photography—where people reacted badly to me being so close to them. There is a reason I like to work in this space. It is very intimate. Sometimes, the subject is amused, which may be a foil. It’s the space where usually we only allow loved ones. It’s a place to respect.

I have received requests not to reproduce certain images for all sorts of different reasons. What we see when we look at our reflection in a mirror, and when we look at a photograph, are often two very different images.

I once photographed the French philosopher Hélène Cixous. She was so worried about the results, which I sent to her, that she wrote to me and said that to reproduce these images was to her tantamount to rape. I still have the letter. It seems to me that if you have any sense of social responsibility in a case like this, then you withdraw the session—and this is what I did.

I don’t ever approach a sitting to put anybody in a good or a bad light. Even the sessions I have made with despots and mass murderers, I wouldn’t seek to portray them in a bad light. It seems cheap and too easy to do. I don’t really feel that the portrait sitting is about subjecting any one of my subjects to a bad experience. It is a shared experience. I’m not sure that trying to describe a “true face” gets us anywhere; there isn’t such a thing. We present many faces to people every day. The most a portrait photographer can hope for is to make a portrait that reflects where the sitter is with the photographer, what knowledge they have shared, what the photographer has seen.

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When we stumbled across Caylee Grey’s Favorite Things Photo Book, we knew we had to show you.
Yes, the design is intimidatingly good but creating something like it is very much achievable — if you keep a few things in mind.

First, you can have a browse through some of Paislee Press’ InDesign Photo Book Templates here (you can even buy the exact design that Caylee used for this project).

However, if you’re like us and lack the design skills to navigate InDesign or Photoshop, don’t fret. There are some very simple things that you can learn from Caylee’s book. So sit back, take a browse, and take note: here are three lessons to help you to create a Photo Book as beautiful as Caylee Grey’s.

1.) Don’t be afraid to write on your books!

One of our favorite details in any book (photo or written) is the writing in the margins or dedications on the front cover — it’s these human touches that create a real connection to your memories. Caylee kept the right-side cover of her book blank so that she could journal by hand, straight onto the book. In addition to this, she went one step further, scanned her handwriting and, with a little bit of tech-savviness, overlayed it with a beautiful gold and uploaded the image to her front page. J’adore!

2.) You don’t need a special occasion to make a book

More often than not, the impactful moments in our lives happen during our regular day-to-day routine. Unfortunately, we tend not to take photos during this time. For this reason, we love ‘photo-a-day’ or ‘year in review’ projects. If the idea of a 365+ photos sounds intimidating, you can start small — take one photo per day for one month.
For a bit of inspiration, you can have a look at Gerty Photography’s beautiful Photo-A-Day project here >

3.) Don’t be discouraged by low-resolution photos

If you, like most people, find that you take way more images on your phone than a proper camera, the low-resolution warning on in the MILK Editor Tool is nothing new and can be quite discouraging. Don’t give up — just get creative. Think outside the box or, in this case, outside of the square frame. Present lower res images in a collage or, like Caylee, in cute circles.

If you’re not a Photoshop wiz, there are plenty of user-friendly photo editing tools online like Fotor or Canva (my personal favorite). Here you can easily crop, rotate, collage and use basic effects on our photos.

You can learn more about Caylee Grey through her Instagram and Blog, or you can see more of her projects at Paislee Press.

Photo credit: Caylee Grey