This is a 4-part series where I share the process of writing my first ever Crepe Paper Flower book. Click on the links below to read the whole series.
PART 2: Typing, drawing, shooting, and repeat!
Sketching out the templates, we had a small amount of pages to fit a large number of shapes!
Had my first big team planning meeting this month via Zoom to meet everyone, which was great. This was a chance for us to dive into each section of the book and have the entire team on the same page as to how the book would look and feel, and what layout would work best. I shared with them my personality and style, and showed them samples of layouts, colour schemes, and fonts I liked. This helped the designers understand my aesthetic (and they knocked it out of the park with the final layouts!).
I had the challenge of tackling photography myself (since I hardly could ship all my flowers halfway across the world with a peace of mind), so the meeting was also very helpful for me to get all the specifications and photography tips.
I borrowed a DSLR from my dad and bought a tripod (which my publisher gave compensation for). I shot my images in RAW format.
After the meeting, I was given a flat plan of the book as well as the green light to start work officially. I had already began writing out some of the projects, but now I could dive into photographing the steps and hero images of each project. I tried to work systematically for each project - first, I would type out the step by step instructions. Next, I would draw a storyboard for each project corresponding to the steps I've typed out. Then comes the photoshoot day, which I'll aim to shoot at least 2 projects at one go.
Story-boarding every project - this helps me ensure I get all the crucial details in the shot!
This month I submitted the advance material for the book - which consists of a couple of projects so that the editors could check my work and get a head-start on formatting, design, as well as prepare the marketing aspects of the book.
So far, it has been really fun writing the book, I do enjoy the writing aspect! However, I won't deny that it was also a little stressful when it came to photography - I knew I was competing with professional photographers and immaculately styled sets. I was at a disadvantage clearly. Nonetheless, I knew I wanted to stay true to my original aesthetic - which is usually pretty simple, straightforward, and colourful. Most importantly, I wanted to let the blooms shine and speak for themselves.
I used minimal props - it wasn't my style to have fancy backdrops! I focused simply on coloured backgrounds, as I wanted the flowers to be the clear focus of every image.
I submitted 4 projects for the Advance materials - 2 flowers, 1 bee and 1 butterfly (which was actually 2 butterflies combined into 1 project). I had a project editor who worked with me on improving the text, and I also had feedback from the head designer.
The bad news was, the hero images (the big image attached to each project) did not pass the test. My designer pointed out issues with shadows and angles, but more crucially, she commented that the flowers were better styled upright in vases as opposed to my usual flat-lay style. This was a BIG KICKER for me as flatlays are what I'm comfortable with - my entire instagram feed is 90% flatlays!
One of the first shoots I did for the book. This image didn't make it through!
I would be lying if I said I wasn't stressed out. However, my designer gave me ample advice and time to reshoot the images. I was very grateful for that, that they had faith in me and gave me sufficient time to rework the styling and lighting.
So I did it! After months of long nights and days, I submitted the entire book this month! All 27 projects, with hundreds of step images and text. It was a cause for celebration, I felt great and relieved that they were all submitted.
The mess in my studio during photoshoot days!
I must say, it takes discipline and planning when it comes to meeting these deadlines, especially when I'm working independently. I knew I wanted to churn out at least one project every 3-4 days. Not to mention, I was also working on other projects at that time, and I did have to turn down some commissions to make time for the book. Of course, it was all worth it!
Here I am on submission day. The numbers you see on the table are the image numbers, I was rechecking them to make sure they were all accurately labelled for each step.
My relief was relatively short-lived unfortunately, as I got an email from my designer again. The hero images turned out OK, but they could be better, she shared. And while it was disheartening, it was important for me to hear that. I knew everyone wanted the best for the book, and if that meant I had to go and reshoot ALL my hero images, that's what I would do, and I'll continue this story in Part 3!