Majestic and Magical - a photo book about Dominica
My journey as a photographer started off in an unconventional way. I bought my first camera so that I could shoot music videos of artists I anticipated working with (since I was a music producer outside of my regular 9-5 job).
Alas, not one music video materialized, but I developed a love for still photography.
I further developed this skill when I worked with a budding small business and I would take still images of our cupcakes and customers eating cupcakes for marketing and advertising activities.
The early days
When I moved on from shooting cupcakes, I began spending my weekends in the wild outdoors of the Nature Island. I visited several areas for the first time, and as I shared some of my images on social media, I found out that many of my local friends had never visited these places either.
I continued to enjoy these weekend journeys and visited sites like:
La Bou (in Soufriere)
Cold Soufriere, to name a few
These early days were formative.
I developed friendships and built relationships with several people who worked in Dominica’s tourism industry. I began to love and appreciate my country more. And I wanted to share what I’d found with the world.
Why print a book?
The quote below is one taken from the project page of my first Kickstarter campaign for this book (the one that failed!)
There’s no doubt that publishing a book was a huge risk in this day and age. But on the other hand, I knew there was room for such a product in the market.
Everything these days is so short-lived.
Cameras and smartphones are ubiquitous. It was reported that consumers took 1.1 trillion photos in 2016. Image-centered platform, Instagram, recently reported that it topped the 1 billion active users mark. And on average, users spend an average of 53 minutes browsing through their feed.
These statistics are amazing, but if you’re a social media user yourself, how much time do you spend admiring those images on Instagram or Facebook? Here’s another question: if these photos really meant something to you, how easy is it to revisit them in two week, two months or two years?
Timeliness is a book’s true power over social media.
A book, once put on a shelf or coffee table, will be right there when you need it. It’s not so easy to digitally curate stories or images in a similar way.
Furthermore, photography is best experienced in a tactile form. Most digital screens are less than six inches wide, and the details and grandeur of an image are ultimately lost. However, a large format print or a 12x9 inch photography book has a special way of bringing images to life in a way that no screen can!
Majestic and Magical is a hardcover, 12 inch x 9 inch, coffee table photography book that contains more than 120 images from around Dominica.
The book is meant to be an expression of my art, so the print quality is impeccable.
When I made up my mind to publish a book, I did not start shooting new images from scratch. I browsed through my archives and chose appropriate images, and decided what I would then go out to capture.
Ultimately, I ended up with several thousand images and used no more than 140 of those through the photo-book. The process of culling, editing and finalizing these images for print was painstaking, but also, thrilling.
Every finalized image meant that I was getting closer to my goal of publishing a book and that served as constant motivation.
Financing the printing of the books proved to be a huge challenge.
After finding a reputable printing company online and receiving their quotation for printing, I narrowed down all my options to crowdfunding.
I was familiar with Kickstarter.com (although I’d never used the platform), and figured this would be the best move for me - allow supporters to pay upfront in exchange for a signed copy of the book (and other rewards depending on their level of support).
Here’s the footnotes version of this nerve-process:
I launched the first campaign in June 2016 and failed to reach my funding goal of US $16,000 by the 30-day mark.
I launched the second campaign in August 2016 and at the last minute, got support from Range Developments to successfully close funding in September 2016 (new target of US $16,000).
Wrapped up production of the books (color proofing, cover/page samples, etc) by February 2017
Started shipping books to backers by June 2017.
It is absolutely crazy to think that the process took 12 months! All in all, I was grateful to my supporters for their patience and good wishes throughout the journey.
From start to finish, producing this photography book has been one of the best experiences of my life. It is definitely one of my proudest achievements.
In fact, the success of this book and the potential for other similar ventures is what pushed me to become a full time photographer.
I learned many lessons along the way, including “expect the unexpected” and I’ve learned give myself more lead-time for these sorts of projects.
Most of all, I learned that contrary to commonly held opinions:
Books still continue to play an important role in our fast-paced, digital lives, and
Coupled with our love of images, this means there’s a viable market for photography books!