The creative process is a mystery to me, but one which I fully embrace each time I begin work on anything I do. Last year I spent around seven months putting together my 2nd book 'Iceland, a Journal of Nocturnes'. It's journey from inception to final version was very interesting to note, and see how it flowed and changed direction.
I feel that anything I put my mind to, requires a final point of visualisation. In other words, if I let myself dream and imagine what the final work will be like, it helps me steer my creativity towards that goal.
I knew with the Iceland book for example, that I wanted it to be something a little different from just a collection of images. The book morphed over time to become a journal of sorts; a collection of stories and thoughts and experiences of photographing the Icelandic landscape over many visits over many years. It was my good friend Mike Green who pointed out that there was a particular chronology to the way I'd laid the photos out, which suggested a photographic day, shot over many years. The book was highly thematic too, in that it is a collection of nocturnal images; images that have been shot during the small hours of the day.
The book has sold very well so far, but the next stage I have to work on is getting UK distribution for it. I would like to see it on the book shelves of major book retailers like Waterstones for example. I'd also like to see it in Reykavik Airport's book store, but this is proving to be a stumbling issue because I cannot get a distributor for it. Daniel Bergmann has kindly offered to assist in any way he can.
Still, things move on, and I can't help being drawn into 'dreaming' and 'visualising' my 3rd book (if this will come to fruition, is anybody's guess, but if it does happen, I feel it will be somewhere down in the line in 2014, not this year). The reason being is that I've found a strong subject matter, but I don't think I've explored it enough yet to provide a complete book on it.
I've already drafted up a prototype for the book cover and even a title 'Altiplano, Somewhere between here and the stars'. It's really just a working title, something to help me focus, and get inspiration from.
And what about the title? Why have I chosen this? Well, I think for me, the Bolivian Altiplano is the closest I've come to feeling that I was on another planet. Not only does the landscape feel otherworldly, but the lack of oxygen at the altitudes of 3,600 metres really does challenge you. The altiplano really is 'somewhere between here and the stars'.
So what are my plans for this? Well, right now, I don't have enough material for the book. There are locations on the Altiplano that I wish to return to, so I can make a more valid study of, during the low light hours. I'm therefore drafting up plans to go back this year, on a private tour of the Altiplano. This is some major undertaking, because it's not possible to do it yourself, safely at least. I will have to hire a group of Bolivians to help me - an experienced driver who knows the terrain, a guide to help me out with the logistics, and a landcruiser. It's an expensive operation, but one in which I feel I really have to do.
I'm sharing this early draft of my proposed book, to illustrate how the creative process can be brought on to guide you, if you have a final vision in mind for your dreams. At the same time, I will remain open and flexible to whatever comes my way, because creativity cannot be planned too rigidly. There has to be room for the chance encounter, the new direction, and a willingness to go wherever the project decides to steer you in. It's an immensely exciting journey. Maybe in 2014, I will have something worthy to show you. But that's the beauty of the creative world. We really never really know, we just have to go with our hearts.