Friday, November 16, 2012

Artifact Uprising books

greetings and salutations!

i recently discovered a new company called Artifact Uprising. they print photobooks, and i am super excited about my first go 'round with them. i am a big believer that photographs need to take physical form to be properly appreciated, and the best way to get people to understand that is to put a physical object in their hand rather than just delivering digital files. everyone i've shown these two over the last week or so has fallen in love with them. so its definitely a format i'm going to continue to pursue.
to make a book one simply uploads images through their dead easy to use flash based interface, and then select a book type and drag-and-drop the images into the template. page layouts can be defined, text can be added, and the whole thing can be previewed before ordering. one can even share the preview on facebook or other social media or via email. projects can be saved to come back to later, and after ordering a project is kept for 14 days so that one has a chance to get the book in hand and order more or make changes. and the results are quite good.
my goal was to compare some of their different formats and page designs as well as comparing the print quality of various formats - film scans, digital photos, and cameraphone pics. with that in mind, for my first order, i designed 3 softcover books, using every page layout option for each type at least once.

first, a 40 page, 5.5"x5.5" soft cover book mixing cameraphone pictures, digital point-and-shoot files, and both 35mm and medium format film scans, all from my trip to Italy last spring:
this worked pretty well. at this small size, the different formats mixed together without much difference in quality. i have already gotten requests for copies of this book from people who were on the trip with me.

out of caution, i mostly kept the phone and digital p&s images small, and used film scans for the full page images, though as can be seen in the third image above, cameraphone images printed well at full size too. i would like to try another one in a larger format and mix the images at the same size to see if this holds. i did run into a small glitch with a few of my film scans being too large to upload. resizing didn't seem to make much of a difference here, but i wonder how this bodes for the print quality of larger sized books (they'll be up next). also, this was the hardest book to keep organized as i was pulling from multiple sources. many photos were pulled  from facebook - that process worked extremely well and all of my albums were kept together for easy navigation. but i also uploaded some images and these went to a separate gallery which sometimes made gathering the images challenging. i also wish there were flickr integration because i have a lot of organized sets and collections there and it would be great to import those.

next, a 40 page, 6"x8" soft cover book, including 35mm and medium format film scans, all from a family session:
my initial thought was that this book might make an interesting addition to or replacement for 4x6 proof prints i want to deliver to clients so i also ordered a set of prints from RPL to compare them. in the end, i do not believe these books are a replacement for proof prints, and they certainly are not the same quality as a proper album, but i think they are a useful tool that in a simple book form can help clients see the advantages of having an album made. the images in the book have a bit more contrast than the proof prints; some of the highlights are blown out; and there is a loss of detail in the shadows. i think this can be fixed on my end, as i tend to push my images to the extremes where they are just short of clipping. so in the future, i will need to back off a little bit if i intend to put them in a book like this.

despite being very affordable, i do not think it's feasible to make a book like this up front for every session due to the 3 week turnaround (design-submit-print-ship). but having examples of these books to show clients at the initial meeting, and offering them as an option for clients to purchase would not be a bad thing. as was pointed out by another photographer i showed these to, these books are extremely approachable, the type of thing one can easily pick up and flip through without it seeming like a weighty experience that is going to require a large commitment from the viewer. it is my goal to create images that capture a family's dynamic in their everyday life, and in that context a book like this, an "everyday" object, fits perfectly.

and finally, a 40 page, 5.5"x5.5" "instagram friendly" book of my IG pics from our recent road trip through New England and Quebec:
overall, i think this was actually the most successful of the three. they did a great job with the images, really matching the way they appear on my iphone. i especially like the full page bleed, and the cover design options for these "instagram friendly" books are some of the most interesting. unfortunately, the images wouldn't load directly from facebook, but they provide a link to a utility that downloads your entire instagram stream. one can then upload them as a gallery, and since they were all coming from a single source, it was super simple to organize. the small square format works great, though i was a little baffled at why some of the layouts available for the "regular" 5.5"x5.5" books were not available for the "instagram friendly" ones (and vice versa).

one additional thought: though the interface is really easy to use, i wish there were a way to insert/delete blank page spreads or move a spread earlier or later in the book in mid-stream (unless i am completely missing something). it was somewhat frustrating to get a perfect page layout or series of layouts done, and then realize it would work better elsewhere in the book or in a different order and have to remake the whole thing. but it was very annoying when i wanted to insert a page spread and basically have to redesign the whole book from that page forward instead of just inserting pages and automatically shifting the already completed layouts.
in the end, however, these are really great items, and are unbeatable for the price and ease of use. i'd definitely give them a try if you're at all interested in book foramts for your photos, whether as an option for your clients to purchase, or simply as a way to present personal projects. i recently did portfolio reviews, and the reviewers i saw all loved these books more than my 8x8 and 8x10 prints!

for more info check out!

(apologies for the digital photos, but i wanted to get this post up quickly.)

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