Final Book Decisions & Creation.

I decided I wanted to create a book in order to use more of the images I had shoot over the past few months, to create a narrative about my battle with anxiety. Shown in my previous project development, I considered the layout of my book to be similar to the work of Jennifer Pattison where she combined nude portraits with landscapes to act as a breather for the viewer and take everything, showing where Pattison and the model found themselves at that time. By putting my self portraits and still lives together, I intended them to compliment and enhance each other to portray a particular meaning and tell more about my experience with anxiety.

One of the key things Emma Critchley pointed out to me as although this worked in some cases which she saw in the examples I showed her, that I don’t necessarily always have to stick to this structure of pairing all my images. She noticed how some of the still lives acted a release from the anxiety, as if it was reassuring the viewer that things were going to be okay so instead, Emma suggested I could build up the anxiety then use my still lives as the release, as photographing and being outdoors was one of my main coping mechanisms. I really liked this idea, and once I started piecing a potential layout together I was able to see that it could actually work.

I decided I also wanted to include some text to help define my project and signify the change to the viewer. I chose to include my artist statement at the beginning of my book, to give a brief description of what it was about and the purpose of doing the project – not only to share my story, but to encourage other’s to speak out about theirs. I felt it was necessary to do this as although I tried to compose my images so they were relatable and interpretable to the viewer, in my opinion it was important to aid the audience’s understanding as I have often found myself admiring work but wanting to know more, why or what. My artist statement is followed by a selection of images which all contribute to building up my fear and battle with anxiety. I then decided I wanted to include the same text I used to narrate my piece in Phonar with a few slight edits, as I gained really good feedback for it and felt it give a short but descriptive insight to the extremes of how anxiety has ruled my life. The finishing line also leads brilliantly into showing how various things have helped my anxiety improve which have made up my images – “I’m not there yet, but one day I will be”. Lines like “sometimes I want to cry, it distracts me from the attack” instantly allows the viewer to make the connection between the image of me crying and why it is related to my anxiety. This is why I felt the text was important to include to make sense of it and make it more personal as it is written by me and received as if I am speaking to the viewer.


I remember that day. That day that life changed forever. I felt sick and couldn’t eat. That was just the beginning.

Little did I know then, this was the beginning of my anxiety disorder. A disorder that has led me to have panic attacks every day. Uncontrollable shaking as adrenaline pumps through my body. Heart pounding. Barely breathing.

Sweaty palms. Exhaustion. Embarrassment. Loss of control.

My face has turned grey whilst fear has swamped my mind. I’ve contemplated calling an ambulance from experiencing severe chest pains. I’ve begged people to help me while I can barely breathe.

Sometimes I want to cry, it distracts me from the attack.

Sometimes I’m exhausted, the constant anxiety drains my energy.

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be normal.

I dream of my future, with my anxiety always in the back of my mind.

People will doubt you. People will call you a liar.

Some simply won’t understand.

But that’s okay.

You’re not alone.

Appointments. Counselling. Family. Friends. University. Photography. Outdoors. They helped save me.

I’m not there yet, but one day I will be.


Here is a very rough draft of my final choices for the sequence of the book. Some images worked really well as a pair and complimented each other to represent particular emotions and experiences. On the other hand, I felt others were stronger alone and had enough to speak for themselves. The blank pieces of paper represent where I am keeping the page blank. I decided to have these pages black because I felt it contrasted best to my images and reflects the dark battle of a life with anxiety. Even when the second part of the book turned positive, I still kept the pages black as I didn’t think changing it would work but also because I wanted it to represent how the anxiety still remains throughout even though it’s been improving.

I was initially going to print my book with Blurb, but as my schedule got delayed by having to shoot some extra images and re-order the sequencing of the book, I was on a tight deadline as I wanted to make sure it would be delivered as soon as possible as the deadline was closing in. I looked at the company Ex Why Zed which we are having our catalogues printed with and there were great reviews of the quality of the books. I e-mailed them for a quote of an A4 landscape book of with a total of 44 pages, wire stitching, silk 300gsm for the cover and silk 130gsm for the inside pages. I had considered having my book square but the more I thought about it I realised it would mean a lot of cropping and cutting out detail in my images and I also didn’t have any particular reason for why I wanted it to be square other than I just wanted it to be different. Therefore I decided to go with standard landscape size at A4 to make it a suitable, readable size. I decided to go for silk coating as I felt this was most suitable. With the other options, I felt gloss would have made the images too shiny, I didn’t feel uncoated would create the right texture for my book and matt would have left it looking quite flat. Silk was a nice balance between being too flat and too shiny. The company came back to me with a quote of £304 for 1, £316 for 3 or £328 for 5 copies. Sadly, there was absolutely no way that I could afford these prices so I had to rethink a couple of points. The company did however suggest an A5 landscape book as a cheaper option with 1 copy for £42 or 5 at £48. This was a lot more justifiable and I was actually more drawn to the idea of an A5 book as it makes it more personal and intimate. I requested how much it would cost to have it perfect bound rather than wire stitching and they came back to me with a quote of £76 for one. This still seemed quite over my desired price, but I thought with the brilliant reviews for quality it would be worth it, as well asking about their turn around time I knew it would be delivered in time. The website was extremely helpful with instructions of how to put the book together on InDesign, although I have had a bit of experience with it in the past, this was definitely useful in keeping me on track and understanding how to include the right length for the spine. I created two documents, the cover page and text pages.


I was so relieved to have this finally sorted, ordered and paid for, despite it costing a lot more than I had expected. Sadly, when the book arrived I was quite disappointed but I believe this was a fault of my own. One of the requirements for the images in the book was for them to be CMYK colour. I had edited all my finals before hand, and then changed them to this mode before uploading them into my indesign document. On a few of the images it actually made quite a difference, but I didn’t seem to make any connection to how this would effect their print quality so I dismissed it and continued to order my book. Looking through it now, I’ve realised that this obviously did have an impact on how they appeared visually but I honestly just didn’t even make the connection at the time and I am awfully disappointed in myself for not doing so, particularly after I spent quite a bit of money on having it printed. At this point, I am unsure as whether I now want to include the book as part of my final exhibit as I just don’t feel the overall quality is as good as it needs to be. I feel this would be a great loss as although I would have the final framed prints, I felt the book had a lot more to offer to the viewer about my story and how my photography has helped me, there is a lot of representation through the composition of images and sequencing of the book to show my journey. This will be something I have to seriously consider but I will hopefully have a bit more time to consider this if I am able to get some feedback on it.


~ by victoriasimkissphotography on May 8, 2015.

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