Man, that was intense!
‘That’ being the time between finishing the project in early March – and now, four and a half months later.
It’s all a bit of a blur so I thought I’d retrace my steps since March, to work out exactly why I haven’t had time to scratch myself:
1. Fulfilling the Rewards for my wonderful Kickstarter crowdfunding peeps
Looks pretty simple doesn’t it? Print some postcards, get some prints matted, organise stickers.
To start with, before I could do any of that, I had to review all 30,000 images I’d shot – to find a handful (remember I asked you all for your favourite images?). Then processing the chosen images. Then ‘getting the colour right’ – it took the printers four goes. Then the sourcing of all the bits and pieces – the mattes, the cardboard packages etc – etc – etc.
And I won’t even mention (okay, I will) how long it took me just to sign all the postcards and prints and then wrap them and package them up – almost an entire weekend!
Or how absurd I looked walking into the post office with close to 200 packages – it took almost an hour for the woman just to process them.
But it was worth all the time and effort – I was pretty happy with them but more importantly the Kickstarter backers seemed to be too – one job down, two to go…
This was probably the easiest job of the last four months. Mainly because there were other people doing a lot of the work – the Sydney Living Museum project managers and designers.
But it was still a big deal – choosing the 100 or so images to be exhibited, then processing all those.
I am, however, absolutely thrilled with the way the exhibition – which opened last Saturday at the Museum of Sydney – is looking. This time around we printed the images on cotton rag rather than photographic paper – the look is really lush and beautiful.
More on the exhibition a little later – the next major intense job was…
3. Make a book
Before I started work on this book, I thought my first book was a lot of work.
But that book was designed, produced and published by someone else.
This time around I’ve taken on all those roles, on top of actually providing the content of the book.
It has been another marathon of a journey! But have I loved it? Yes!
I had a designer help me with some of the mechanics but for the most part, it’s been my baby. And like any baby, I’ve fussed over it and been totally absorbed by it, almost 24 hours a day for the past few months.
I was determined to make the book as good as it could be – aside from having a slight perfectionist streak (!) I also knew I was planning to try and raise the funds to print it by setting up a pre-ordering system through a crowdfunding site. If people were going to place their trust in me to pre-order and pay for a book without seeing it first, I was going to repay them for their faith by giving them the best book possible.
I started working solidly on the book eight weeks ago. It began with choosing around 800 images from the thousands and thousands that I took – and then processing them. Just the processing alone took three weeks (one image can take up to 30 minutes to process if it’s a tricky one) – almost seven days a week for three weeks, making thousands of decisions about contrast, brightness, colour correction for printing etc.
Then there was editing the blog posts – getting 70,000 words down to around 20,000 – as well as new writing.
Funny in a way – after a year of roaming all around the world, I was stuck in one place, in a dark room (you need to process images without too much light around) glued to a computer screen.
Then the really intense phase kicked in as my deadline to go to print drew nearer. For the past month I have been going to bed at 1am, waking at 5 or 6am, often by an insistent thought – “change Pg xxx”. I started dreaming about layouts and fonts and images. Oh my gawd. Obsessive? Definitely.
Then as I was laying it all out, I’d realise, ooh, those other images I hadn’t processed, they’d go well here – or, I’ll write that instead of that. So there was more processing, more writing, more fussing…
4. Raise funds to print the book
When the book was 99% done, I started work on the pre-ordering/crowdfunding campaign. As you may know if you read the last post, enough lovely people pre-ordered it, enabling it to be printed – a small print run but nonetheless, a print run. Which is just amazing and wonderful.
So my baby is now in the hands of the printers – due to be born in mid September. Take that, Mr royal baby!
I can’t help myself though – I want to share with you the equivalent of some ultra-sound images – some of the pages as they look when they go to print (imagine the spreads much bigger though – 260mm high x 520mm wide):
Some of them are new images you didn’t see on the blog, like this intro page to one of the Tokyo suburbs:
And of course much of the 352 page book is made up of diptychs – I’ve tried to include all of the ones you told me were your favourites, like the ones from the very last suburb, Coogee:
So yes, the book – finally finished and in the hands of printers now. Be careful with my baby you printers!
In the midst of final finessing and fussing in the last few weeks, I’ve also been busy giving interviews to various radio, magazine and newspaper people about the project and upcoming exhibition and book.
I always quite enjoy it – who doesn’t love talking about something they love? – but you never know how they’re going to come out.
So it was very nice to open the pages of the weekend Australian Magazine to see this lovely piece on me and my project – thank you Catherine Marshall!
5. The exhibition opening talk
Having done all this – the crowdfunding campaigns, the book, the exhibition prep. – my final job was to open my exhibition with a talk last Saturday at the Museum of Sydney.
I’d been so busy in the weeks preceding it, I’d had to leave it to the last minute to do. But I think it made enough sense.
I know many of you wanted to come but couldn’t because it was sold out. But wonderful Stephen Lead, who’s been helping me with map stuff on the blog amongst other things, decided to video the talk. So for those of you who missed out, here it is! Steve didn’t film the Q&A at the end, which was a lot of fun I have to say, but the whole 20 minute talk first up is there.
52 Suburbs Exhibition Talk by Stephen Lead on Vimeo.
And many thanks to all of you who did manage to get tickets for the talk – it was exciting to have you in the audience.
The exhibition is on until November 24 – for other details check out the Museum of Sydney website.
So yes, that’s what I’ve been doing.
It has been intense but wonderful.
But it is nice not to be waking up at 5am. And feeling like I can breathe again. Yeah, that bit is good.
How to pre-order the book, or order prints or postcards:
The Pozible pre-ordering campaign is over but you can still pre-order the book.
In the next few days I’ll set up a facility on this blog site to do so, as well as order prints of any images from the exhibition or book, and the postcards.
Now there was something else I had to do… Oh yeah, Coco! Child! Pick up from school!
Later, as a wild-haired hippie I once knew used to say.