March 20, 2009

AP Environmental Science, 2005-2006

Today I presented the AP Environmental Science, 2006-2006 book to Mr. Ostrowski, chronicling the inaugural year of the AP Environmental Science program at Huntington Beach High School. Three years later, the class has expanded to three sessions (Periods 1, 2 and 4) with the same components – Yosemite in the fall and scuba diving in the spring.

The ambition of my photo book projects seems to inversely correlate with the distance I have from the subjects – the further the distance from the subjects, the more I want to do. In the MOCA book, all I wanted was "Where they are now?" blurbs from the 15 apprentices. In this book, I wanted all 40 students to write "Why did I do this?" with a 2005-2006 picture and "What am I doing now?" with a 2008-2009 picture. The response? Two of the 38 students contacted responded.

I really didn't want to doom myself to a self-fulfilling prophecy, but let's be honest here. People hated my camera, I didn't talk to anybody, and I haven't maintained really good contact with anyone following high school. People don't trust me. People didn't care for the class. As I wrote in the afterward, it was just a class, for everyone else. But for me, it was something more than that. It was something to be remembered, because it was the inaugural class. And I wanted everyone to contribute, only to find few takers.

It's not about the money. I have money, and I'm willing to spend it. I budgeted for the extra 80 pages (see Blurb's pricing scale). When the APES book was 200 pages ($43.95), it would have cost me an extra $11 ($54.95) to add those pages to the book. When I expanded the book to 240 pages ($49.95), it would have cost me $10 ($59.95) for 80 more pages. Because my pictures are not the magic. The students are. And when the students chose not to contribute, the magic of the book vanishes.

March 16, 2009

The House of Blue Leaves

New blog! Go to to find the latest updates for the sixth photo book project, covering The House of Blue Leaves production from March 13-14. It's new. I realize that, in order to be successful, I need to be completely transparent and public about the inner workings and ambitions of the project, rather than shroud it in complete secrecy and privacy and only transmit it through email.