Roger Snider approached us a few months back to create a new photography portfolio for his niche specialty: shooting big rig trucks. After some soul searching, our photo editor/portfolio consultant Sean Stone came up with with an interesting, custom approach to the portfolio, and one that involved skulls and flames.
I asked Sean Stone a few questions about his approach to the edit and the physical books themselves, which are fun to hold because of their glossy, metallic surfaces and custom-painted design.
What did Roger approach you to do, and why?
Roger approached me to create a portfolio specifically for a project called the Shell Rotella Superrigs Calendar. He wanted to have the book done in-time to be considered for this very big job. Its a calendar of custom trucks in different locations, and their drivers, which is exactly what Roger shoots. He wanted to create a book that would really set him apart from the competition for the calendar, but also something to help him expand his brand.
What was the extent of your input?
Roger put a lot of trust in my opinion to make the edit, and really gave me free reign to assemble the images in the way I thought would be most effective. He wanted to be sure we included the more polished work and didn’t include his more journalistic work, which was recently featured in National Geographic.
He sent me 200 images, which I honed down to 30 for our first approval round. Roger was happy with the edit, and sent a few new images which he thought would enhance what I had put together. Fortunately, a few of them fit in nicely, and we were done editing by round two.
Of course, this doesn’t include the internal rounds that I had before presenting to Roger, which include printing thumbnails on paper, allowing me to quickly re-arrange the spreads to perfect the edit. I’ll also run my edits by some of our marketing people, to get another perspective on the images’ relevance to art buyers. My goal is to make a book that shows a consistent style, unique imagery that brands the photographer, and also has marketability.
The hardest part was creating an edit that looked fresh, when dealing with a subject that is, on the surface, all the same stuff. Sort of like if I was making a book for a food photographer who only shoots sandwiches. But Roger has a huge variety of content, style and location. The longer I looked at his work, the more I appreciated the subtlety of his truck photography.
As far as the physical book goes, we both agreed that bigger would be better. We chose to use 11 x 17 landscape because the format allowed for almost no cropping, compared to a 16 x 20. I thought about a number of options for the book itself, something that would be economical but make a bigger impact than a standard book.
As I researched options for customizing the books, the idea of truck materials kept coming back to me. The sturdy aluminum of the Pina Zingaro was immediately attractive.
I also located a double sided luster paper for him, which was surprisingly hard to do. I then printed and assembled his books. The pages are hand punched by me, because Pina uses a weird size post in their Machina line of books.
I also thought that we should take advantage of Roger’s connections in the big rig business, and get his books tricked out like his subjects. Roger loved the idea and sent the books to be painted by his friend, Jeff Botelho, who builds custom trucks from his shop in Los Banos, California. Jeff made three custom painted books for us:
These were based on color schemes of trucks he had produced [including the truck in the image below, which is also in Roger’s portfolio]. Do the green flames look familiar?
And what does Roger think of the finished product?
He’s been very happy with the books, so much so that he’s having me edit and create a new portfolio for his other line of photography (no trucks involved).