Making The Mob Rules Photo Book (2015 Archived Post)
The idea to make a photo book came naturally. Alongside filming for The Mob Rules, I’d shot photos the whole time. It was only a matter of asking myself what to do with all of the photos that got me started on the book. Unfortunately for my sanity, that question didn’t get asked until I was procrastinating from editing the video in its late stage. This was the first time I’d attempted to make a cohesive photo book, and naturally I didn’t realize how much went into it. Having finished the book, I can say that I’m proud of it and would like to make many more.
Starting out, I had the "pleasure" of developing and scanning a bunch of unprocessed film and rescanning older film with a better scanner. The sheer amount of time spent cleaning dust off the negatives, scanning, and color correcting took weeks. At that time I was also looking through thousands of haphazardly placed digital files. I put any photo I thought had potential into a folder that eventually amounted to around 300 images. Of course, that selection of images needed to be narrowed down to about a tenth of that, but at that point I was able to begin working on the book itself.
I played around with the design of the book using Adobe InDesign, and quickly decided on a few things. I wanted the images to be full bleed (taking up the whole page without borders) and the book to be printed in landscape format as to best work with the photos. However, those were the only quick decisions I was able to make. I had to really figure out the concept of the book and start to answer the big questions. What do I begin with and how do I end? How do I sequence these photos? Do I include captions or any information? What goes on the covers? So many more questions, all of which were second guessed over and over. However, the biggest question came to the forefront: how do I tell a story with these photographs?
Answering that is where I spent most of my time; it was the most important question to be answered. I came up with many ideas, arranged them in the book, and scrapped the whole thing dozens of times. After a few weeks of that, I finally figured out the concept that I wanted to stick with. I concluded that I wanted this book to tell the story of the video in a narrative timeline that shows what a day in filming looked like. Sure, it sounds so simple now, but that idea definitely didn’t come easily. From there, I was able to get a good sense of what images to use and how to arrange them. I drew an outline that went over the key points of what a day in skateboarding might have looked like for us:
During the filming of the video, the day always started and ended in the car. We frequented Los Angeles and the massive sprawl in search of all the best spots—which were always a minimum of an hour’s drive from where we lived. The cramped quarters of an early Jetta, a flat tire, and the open road were common sights, followed by the hopping of fences and rolling up to dozens of spots a day. A session would begin and out would come the cameras and, annoyingly, the iPhones. As the day in the hot sun rolled on, there might be cops kicking us out, broken boards, injuries, or signs of exhaustion— ideally a video worthy trick would be landed somewhere in between. Then we’d watch the footage, maybe cool off in a public fountain, and enjoy the night by cruising around the city. If we made a longer distance trip, maybe we’d camp where we dropped—on the cold hard concrete of 3rd and Army in San Francisco in one instance. Once the day was done, I’d be able to go through the day’s photos and videos and hopefully have something to show for it, which make up the photos of the tricks at the end of the book.
Once I had the narrative down, I was able to select and sequence the photos much easier. Pretty soon, all that was left was the cover design, which I couldn’t decide on for quite some time either. Ultimately I decided that going back to the earliest stages of the video would be the best idea. The cover became a series of four images taken on Go Skate Day 2012 in Camarillo, the day when nearly every skateboarder in the city rushed the skatepark in an attempt to take it back for a day. (See the video and video description for more information.) It was during that time when we were just beginning to save footage for a full length, and that day—witnessing firsthand the unity of us skateboarders—is where I drew inspiration for the title and underlying ideas.