I started this project with the idea of creating a book. Along the way it evolved into this Internet site. However, I'm still interested in creating a book form and as such have created this, Book Proposal:
They’ve been called: Power Pictures, Cultural Snapshots or the defining images of our time. Everyone has seen them, but these images have been stripped of their stories. Often the actual events are forgotten and only the photo remains. This book will fill in the blanks and restore the thousand words behind the picture.
If you visit any bookstore, you’ll see entire sections devoted to photography. Book after book of striking images, but they don’t give you the story behind the picture; they just attempt to impress you with the drama and the art of the shot. One is left with questions, who is that person in the picture? Why are they running? When was it taken? Who took it? My book will answer these questions, and be light fun trip down memory lane for some and a serious reference book of power pictures for others.
These famous pictures will be not restricted to any one subject, and I plan to have various chapters to cover all sorts of themes. From Wars, the Cultural Revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, Men and Women Pin-ups, Defining moments in history, even sports. Also, I don’t want to restrict myself to just photographs either. The film clip of the JFK assassination is one of the most watched pieces of film in the world yet not many people could tell you who filmed it and that the first minutes of the film before the infamous JFK footage are of the Zapruder family playing in the yard.
Here are six pictures that have reached the level of universal recognition. Instead of household names, they’ve become household pictures:
This book will appeal to a number of markets. The two main target audiences would have to be the under 30 demographic and the Baby Boomers. The focus should be on the under 30 as they control the “cool” factor and can spread the word of mouth. However both markets should be regarded with extreme importance.
If you walk onto any University campus you’ll find these power pictures in the form of posters, pictures, shirts, hats, even skimpy club gear. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a blank stare when I ask someone who is wearing a Che shirt, “Who is that”. Putting up a poster of the Nguyen Ngoc Loan execution is seen as a political statement yet most don’t even know in what war the picture was taken. This is a double-edged sword for this book because the reason they don’t know who is on their poster or T-shirt is that they don’t read in the first place. I believe this book with its large picture layout and quick reference sections would appeal tremendously with this demographic. It will be the next cool coffee table for the Under 30’s.
Contours of this market
The under 30 demographic is a huge market, often with no responsibilities such as rent, kids or mortgage thus they have a huge disposable income. The following books have been huge sellers in the Alternative coffee table niche.
- The Trouser Press Guide to 90's Rock (Trouser Press Record Guide)
- Everything Is Under Control: Conspiracies, Cults, and Cover-ups
However, they haven’t had much cross over appeal because the topics and style of the books are marketed for the under 30s set. This book will have crossover appeal with the baby boomers.
With the correct marketing, this book has great potential with the Baby Boomers because the first thing they will notice is that its something marketed to their kids, yet they understand what its about -- they can relate. The Baby Boomers will remember when a lot of the power pictures were first released. They remember the picture of a young Vietnamese girl running naked after her clothes were burnt off during a napalm attack. They remember where they where when Nixon gave his famous Victory sign as he boarded the Air Force One helicopter. This book will appeal the same way as discussed with the under 30 set but for the Baby Boomers in addition to being a great coffee table book, it will be a trip down memory lane.
Contours of this market
Baby Boomers make up a huge percentage of book purchases. In fact they are the largest buying group in America. According to some consumer profiles, these folks make up nearly one-third of the book buying market. Baby Boomers are the kids who were raised with the instant gratification of television and the advent of fast food. They broke with conventional norms in their music and dress. They came of age during decades of prosperity and great political change.
As Baby Boomers master the Internet and look to the future they are also at the same time longing for the past. They like nostalgic music, the kind they listened to growing up. They like nostalgic TV shows that remind them of their past. These people lived these pictures, they will know this book, they will want this book.
There is minimal competition to this book, and nearly all of it is indirect. The current landscape of graphic picture publications consist of two major book genres:
Photography as an Art Books
These books don’t have famous pictures, often the book is the first time the public has seen the images. The photos are designed to impress with the actual pictures and offer little or no information about the actual print.
Photo History Books
These books show pictures of various world events covered by different types of media. Some are broad in their range, some focus on specific historical events i.e. Life: World War 2: History's Greatest Conflict in Pictures a book about World War II. However, this book is showing images from World War II and while it might have some famous household pictures the book isn’t focusing on them, the way that my book will.
Another example is Life’s: 100 Photographs That Changed the World. This book sounds exactly like the book I’m proposing yet when we look at the pictures they’re not the famous images, the household pictures. Rather the 100 photographs are of 100 great events that changed the world and images from that event. Some of the pictures aren’t even famous and those that are famous are given no background information just a short blurb. Here is a list of books that appear to be in direct competition with the book I propose:
- Through the Lens: National Geographic's Greatest Photographs
- Life: Photography Exposed : The Story Behind the Image
- Great movements in photojournalism
Yet on closer inspection these books all have great pictures often with explanations on how the pictures where taken but these books are not collections of famous pictures. Some may have a few famous images in them yet that is not the focus of these books. They have great pictures but not famous, not household pictures.
Famous Pictures can be easily serialized, as each picture and its story will be able to stand-alone. In addition to being serialized there is a great chance to do sequels or different editions of the book i.e. Canada’s most famous pictures or most famous sports pictures, etc. There is also a chance to expand any one of these stories into documentaries or TV specials.
Available on Request
Famous Pictures: Story Behind the Image will be organized into several chapters or themes. The book will reflect mostly North American events, but will be pictures that are recognized worldwide.
Each chapter will have several pictures, with each picture having a two or three page spread. A large picture will be on the first page while secondary pictures related to it, will be on the opposing page. In between these pictures will be the text, the thousand words behind the picture. Also, on the first page will be a quick reference section with info such who took the picture, when was the picture taken, who’s in the picture, short summary and where to find more info about the image. Here is a quick mockup to demonstrate the layout. I will need to hire a graphic designer to make the spread look its best.
World War II
Fat Man explodes
The Big Three
USS Shaw explodes
Wait for me, Daddy
St Paul's Survives
Churchill and the Tommy Gun
Burst of Joy
War Is Hell
Vietnam - No 13
Escaping over the Taedong Bridge
Aid From The Padre
Raising the Flag at the WTC
Oklahoma City Bombing
The Second Plane
SAS assault on the Iranian Embassy
Bhopal gas disaster girl
Starving Sudanese girl
Nature and Science
Protest and Civil Unrest
March on Washington
Elizabeth Eckford at Little Rock
Assassination of Robert Kennedy
By the Sword
Smiling Sada Abe
Fairey Obama Poster
MacArthur and the Emperor
Top Internet Memes
Other Popular Memes
Man Sucked Into Jet Engine
Matrix Ping Pong
The Snake and the Tetons
Microsoft - Bliss
American Girl in Italy
Smiling Sada Abe
The Train Leaves the Station
Uncle Sam Wants You
Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston
1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Goal
Famous Pictures: Story Behind the Image is a flexible manuscript in as much as its length can be altered simply by my adding or deleting specific theme chapters. Ideally, I would have about 50 pictures with each picture getting a 2-page spread. So plus forward, introduction, credits, etc the book should be no longer than 150 pages.