A Short Interview with Photographer and Self-Publisher David Carol

This year David Carol's book All My Lies are True... was selected by PDN as a Best Book of 2010 and Carol has shown the power social media by selling numerous copies of this new publication on Facebook. Antone Dolezal states of Carol's newest book:

"In the spirit of celebrating the self-published book, I thought I would share one of my favorite self-published titles of 2010. David Carol’s latest book All My Lies Are True is a refreshing reminder that somewhere wanders the obscure photographer, creating images of the mundane and absurd. Carol’s new title showcases the beauty that allows photography to be the means of an adventure born of travel, humor, and intelligence – a journey that ceases to end once the shutter is released, but rather continues to develop into a diary of genuine and often humorous photographs."

Here Carol answers a few questions relating to this publication and his previous book 40 Miles of Bad Road.

MM: What made you want to self-publish?
DC: I decided to do the book myself, first because i could and second because I wanted to be in control of every aspect of the way the photographs were presented. My photography is a very solo experience and going to a publisher is the opposite of "solo". I don't want to be involved with their concerns about costs, marketing, profits, etc. In my experience in the business of photography (over 25 years), the business never benefit's the photography, its about money and that's great for my commercial life but not the work I do for myself. For me its all about taking pictures that I like and seeing what they look like.The only person I collaborate with on any regular basis is Chuck Kelton who does my printing (since 1991) and that's specifically about how I want the prints to look (or how Chuck wants them to look, quite often he knows better then I do). So, I guess my point is, I want to be the last word on how my pictures are seen. I draw from a group of very talented people that know what I want and show me how to get there.

MM: Who designed and printed the catalogues? How many did you print?
DC: I love photography books and have been collecting them since the early 80s. I know how I want my books to look. I have an idea of the way I want the book to look, layout, size, cover design, paper,etc. I made a mock up of the book and brought it to Steve Reisig, an amazing designer that actually worked on my last book, and he laid it out for me based on my model. Steve made a finished and refined product from my rough outline. Its great to have someone you can trust and knows what your looking for. For the printing I went to a childhood friend, Steve Warren of Kroma Printing, that is in the printing business. I told him what I needed and he set me up with a local NYC printer so I could be on press as the book was printed. Joe Chanin, a very talented photographer and extremely knowledgeable in everything photography, made the books scans and separations and went on press with me. The original intent was to print 500, but when all was said and done we had enough sheets that looked good to make 600, so we did...The fun of doing it yourself!

MM: How would you recommend a photographer get funding for his or her project aside from personal funds? Do limited edition prints help?
DC: How to get the funds to publish a book? That's a tough question... I think I'm gonna lie about this one. Just ask your friends!!! 
The truth for me is, Ive been in this world of photography for over 25 years. You meet a lot of people over the years and some you even become friends with. I didn't just rely on the kindness of strangers. With the help of Joe Chanin, Steve Reisig, Steve Warren and a few other people the project was completed. I wanted this to be a "real" book. To me that means "INK". Ink on paper. I'm old fashion and I just don't like the way digital printing looks. I want the paper to go thru a press and come out with ink and varnish on it. Then I want that paper to be folded and bound... All this is very expensive. I like taking photographs, I do not like applying for grants or entering photo contests so I had to find a way to cover the costs without doing anything I don't normally do. The solution: a limited edition of the book that included a limited edition 11x14 photograph signed and numbered by me. I made this edition available at a pre-press price of $250 that increased to $500 once the book was released. I gave the buyers a choice of three photos from the book. I promoted this special edition, in a big way, through Facebook. I sold over 30 copies within one month... I was also invited by The National Arts Club in New York City to give a talk and do a book signing. I promoted that heavily through postal mailings, emails and Facebook and that went very well too... I sold a lot of books that night. So between the limited edition and the book signing at National Arts Club the book was already in the black...so easy right?

MM: Who is your favorite photographer or one who has impacted your life and work?
DC: Who is my favorite photographer? So do i say Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Robert Frank, Josef Koudelka, Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, Irving Penn and on and on? I love their work, but I don't know them so they cant be my favorite photographers.
Instead I think i will give you two names... I will pick the two photographers whose work I love and who I know and like as people. I would say the amazing photographer Abby Robinson has personally influenced my photographs more then anyone else, she was my first photo instructor at School of Visual Arts and a great friend (she also edited my book 40 Miles of Bad Road...). I love her work and her mind.
The next photographer is Joe Chanin. His photographic work speaks for itself, there is nobody like him. He has been the subject of quite a few of my photographs and has been on more photographic trips with me then any other photographer. 
Besides still photography I know my biggest influences have been TV and movies. I watched a lot of TV as a kid so the shape stuck, I cant take square photos. But probably the biggest visual influence- Stanley Kubrick.

MM: What blogs do you read? Magazines? 
DC: I don't really read any blogs and the only magazines I read are Golf magazines. 

MM: What is your favorite book, photo or otherwise?
DC: My favorite photography books...hmmm, OK, Ill give a few (nothing surprising):
Lee Frielander Photographs
Garry Winogrand The Animals
Josef Koudleka  Gypsies and that big panoramic one, I don't want to go upstairs and look for the title ha-ha
Irving Penn Moments Preserved
William Eggelston's Guide
Les Krims those little books stack o wheat murders, little people
JH Lartigue The Photo Album book
Robert Frank The Americans, but not the ugly newer printings
Wegee Naked City

I guess that makes my point, all those books. 

MM: Do you have an odd or funny photography related story?
DC: My entire life is a funny and odd photo story...How much time do you have?


Rob Atkins said...


The Koudelka panoramic book is Chaos. A favorite, along with David's two books, of course.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see David's new book--