Walking camera

Our upcoming book about street photographs and their practitioners Go Home On A Postcard was recently given a nice preview in the UK’s leading magazine on the history of cameras and photography, Photographica World. They were interested in a newly discovered camera used in the trade and the book’s author penned them a feature on this which spanned some eight pages in the end. The magazine is only available to subscribers and much of the detail was far too technical for the book itself but has certainly drawn interest to the subject from techie experts. They even made the beaten up camera their cover star as you can see below! This Thornton Pickard Super Reflex camera was used by Sunbeam Photos from the 1930s into the 1960s as a walking picture camera, taking up to a 1,000 images a day at the height of each holiday season in Margate. You can read more about this fascinating area of photography on the dedicated website Go Home On A Postcard.

Photographica World 2020

Spreading out

Work on our next DEEP PURPLE title, Fire In The Sky, has continued during the lockdown period. As a result we decided to increase the page count significantly over that period. So much so that we will have to revise the price prior to actual publication! However the new material does add a lot to the story and it seemed a shame not to take this opportunity to include it. In addition there will be a good number of extra images and photographs which help explain crucial aspects of the story, including some we hope have not been seen before. We will update final publication details as soon as we can. In terms of production, the book artwork and layout is now complete apart from the extra photo pages. We have also run the finished layout past our proof-readers for another check, you can never be too careful! In the meantime here a couple more new page spreads and you can see more on the site. The spread below shows a collection of contemporary reviews (some of them very rare) which have been reproduced in full to give a real feel for exactly how the album was received by the press at the time.

On screen

on screen

A quick snap of our designer’s computer screens during work on the Boom Boom Blues Book, as it is alliteratively referred to in the office! Most of the earlier design work has been done on the laptop but as we reach the more detailed final page layout, a split screen process is employed. The actual pages are shown on the larger monitor, with all the software windows, tools and options held on the laptop screen, along with the book pages menu which allows us to zip about the book more quickly. This enables us to see the pages at a much larger size and spot things which might otherwise be missed and do more precise adjustments. Though it does call for nifty hand eye co-ordination or the cursor disappears into who knows where! As you can see there is still room for the old fashioned skills of print-outs and a couple of pencils. Quite what the 1964 packet of Shreddies is doing on the desk though we’re not sure.

Spreads

We’ve posted another eight pages from the upcoming Blues Photos of Brian Smith title on the site, which give you a good idea of how this is shaping up. Our designer is busy correcting the spreads right now: “I design each page as a single sheet, this allows me to focus on how it looks. Then once the bulk of the pages are laid out, it’s time to turn them into ‘spreads’, so you can see how the left and right hand pages interact with one another visually when they face each other. This then throws up some clashes and you need to love a few elements around, and make it all work visually across the spread. I use two screens for this as you need plenty of digital ‘desk’ space! But the Blues book is coming together nicely, even if I did discover some image duplication today which meant a fair bit of work to correct. But I hope to be done very shortly then it will go out to Brian for proofing and feedback.” The spread below is from the section on Chuck Berry.

The big five zero

Deep Purple In Rock was released 50 years ago today. It makes me feel nostalgic amongst other things; the trip up to the record shop at school lunch-time to buy the first single off it… then the b-side which trailed the album and made me decide it must go straight onto my wish list, and the saving up to buy it a few weeks later. Getting a sheet of Letraset and putting my initials on the labels in case my brother tried to annex it. So to publish the definitive biography about the album was a real treat. You can read about it on the site, the second edition is still available.

Little Richard

Little Richard Oasis Club 014 copy.jpg

Just a few days on from bemoaning the death of Millie, a proper pop star, than another of the acts Brian Smith photographed in the Sixties passes away, this time a proper rock and roll trailblazer, Little Richard.  Brian was lucky enough to catch a performance at one of Manchester’s most famous venues of the time, The Oasis Club, in 1964.  Just seeing his pictures makes you jealous, as Richard seems in amazing form while the crowd are in awe judging by some of their expressions. Local group The Dakotas got to back him, all under the shadow of a huge Beatles mural decorating the back of the stage.  Which is a tad ironic given how much they owed to Richard amongst others!  Brian also caught the filming of Little Richard by Granada TV for one of their highly regarded pop specials of the time.

This great shot from the Oasis shows Little Richard working the crowd at the height of his set, and would have made the final selection for the book of Brian’s pics we’re wrapping up – except some of the others are even better!

Richard leaves a musical legacy only a few could equal even back in the Sixties, but his contributions to rock music’s development are unlikely ever to be surpassed in the future.

Millie

A real shame to hear today of Millie’s death at the age of 73.  Our previous post on this site was to talk about working on photographs of her for Brian’s Blues photo book, and how it was so hard to pick the best.  So here is another of the shots which didn’t make the final selection to remember her by; stood beaming for Brian’s camera at the Twisted Wheel Club in May 1964.  The band are rocking away in the shadows on the left of the scene, but it’s her irrepressible grin which makes the shot.  She would even leave the band to get on with it while she signed autographs mid-set… a proper star.

Millie.jpg

Millie at the Twisted Wheel

Millie in Twisted Wheel office 1964.jpg

Our designer was working on the Millie Small photographs for the Boom Boom Blues Photo book the other day (and researching her backing group). As he has a home office anyway, the self isolating issue has not been too hard a chore so far. “I love little more than digging through old photographs, who needs the real world! These are some of my favourites from Brian Smith’s book. Millie was a real natural anyway but seems to have hit it off with Brian, who was taking the photos up in the legendary Twisted Wheel club offices. He and Roger Eagle, who was the resident DJ there, were given the rather nice job of looking after Millie for the afternoon. It was probably a bit risky trying to walk around Manchester given that her hit single was so massive, so they passed away the time until the show just taking a few pictures and chatting. I bet a few of us would love to rifle through all the paper ephemera on the shelves too, there looks to be piles of tickets for future gigs in one corner.
During the show itself Brian tried to take a few more shots, but the teenage crowd were just going mad, you can hardly see Millie’s band and she was signing album covers during the set itself!
All the photos have a certain amount of dust and marks on them after 56 years but they have cleaned up nicely for the book. As this one isn’t in, it has not had any treatment!”
We’ve got the best of the photos in the forthcoming book which we’re pushing on with, but thought we’d show this one which hasn’t made the final edit as it is so full of life. You can read more about the book on the site.  There is a post about the book’s cover below.
Obviously the current health crisis has thrown all our plans in the air as it has everybody, so we aim to crack on with projects where we can do so safely and then hopefully pick up the pieces later.

Boom boom

Boom Boom Boom Boom, Rhythm & Blues Photographs of Brian Smith

There is an interesting feature on the design of our forthcoming book Boom Boom, Boom Boom, which brings together hundreds of archive photographs of visiting black blues artists playing in Manchester taken by a young teenage fan, Brain Smith, over on the designer’s website. It shows the way he has developed the cover and arrived at the final artwork.

 

Covered

Fire In The Sky cover.jpg

We usually try and work out a book’s front cover very early on; it helps focus minds and give everyone something visual to work with.  And also it’s usually needed for sales information too.  The problem is that inevitably small changes will need to be made but hopefully the basic design stays the same.  After that the rest of the cover can wait as energies go into the inside pages, but we’re now trying to get the artwork for the Fire In The Sky cover prepared.  The cover is a bit of a strange beast as it needs to be laid out flat but you have to keep in mind that it will be folded and creased to form a front, spine and back. Plus we like to have those wrap round flaps which sort of echo dust-jackets.  The spine is often a bit of a guess but normally the rest of the book is prepared, and then if the spine needs to be made slightly bigger to fit I have to drop everything, adjust the artwork accordingly and get a new production files over to the printer within half an hour or so.  Any of our titles which have a music theme, we use an image of album sleeve spines for the book spine. The idea is that if people have a few of the book titles, it will end up looking a bit like a mini vinyl shelf. It’s perhaps a little ambitious but our designer likes the concept!

Fire in the Sky inner cover

The inside can look a little strange when viewed flat as the art needs to match up to whatever is happening on the first page of the actual book.