Picture this: Hitting the road with nothing but passion in your heart and a camera by your side, capturing breathtaking landscapes and snapping serene vistas. Artist Joshua Rowan doesn’t have to imagine it, he lives it. Wandering the world to locations near and far, Rowan creates photography booklets that blend adventure and artistry in our Perfect Bound Booklets.
With collections of photos from the misty mountains and stark shores of Oregon, the dense forests and sun-soaked skies of California and the steamy bayous and haunting streets of Louisiana, Rowan’s photography immerses you in a complete and total experience. It’s nature at its finest, evoking an insistence on exploring and expanding your own worldview.
With such powerful imagery, Rowan knew print was the only way to present his many photo journeys. “Sitting down with a printed book is an experience of its own that flipping through a website or a folder of images on your computer can’t compare to,” he said.
When choosing an online printer for his photography books, Rowan had a specific inspiration in mind. “Growing up, it seemed everywhere I went people had that big brick of yellow – multiple copies of National Geographic – on their home bookcases,” he said.
With their modern, clean look and a cover that folds into a seamless square spine, Perfect Bound Booklets fit the bill. Ideal for publications up to 2” thick, like catalogs, lookbooks, magazines, photography portfolios, graphic novels and more, perfect bound books gave Rowan the precision and continuity he wanted for his ever-growing collection.
“I set out knowing I’d be making multiple books and wanted there to be a standardized design for them,” he said. “[The format] allows me to list the title of the photo collection [so] they stack up similarly like a nice thick brick as I continue to release them.”
Rowan’s artistry has taken him beyond the borders of North America all the way to Iceland, with its barren beauty and other-worldly minimalism as his muse. Being able to turn his photo books into a photography business is what helped get him there.
“I love the travel [part] the most about the photo business – the freedom to explore new places and the excuse to get out and see the world,” he said. And fortunately, he’s “been able to build a business based on print that sustains my traveling and can be done from the road.”
Rowan gave that business a boost by “bringing those images home and sharing [them] with the world.” And by compiling them into Perfect Bound Booklets. Smartpress’ custom book printing lets Rowan personalize his by size, premium cover and interior paper stocks and black or full-color ink. Not to mention UV and Soft Touch coating options for the cover that ensure any subject gets the spotlight.
From customer feedback, the miles logged for those stunning shots haven’t been in vain. Rowan’s experienced a return-on-investment that’s more about meaning than money.
“I think people like collecting my photo books for deeper looks into places they are curious about visiting for themselves,” he said. “I’ve had people tell me they are a calm reminder of the beauty in the world, and looking through them allows them to step away from the stresses of the world for a minute.”
While Rowan prints his photography booklets with digital ink, he also collaborates on another project that features ink of a different kind. Rowan’s Black Dagger Books showcase prolific tattoo artists’ creative innovation, all displayed in perfect bound booklets published monthly.
“The tattoo books serve as an inspiration to other artists,” he said. “The perfect bound books highlight and celebrate the artist’s body of work in a sharable, highly-portable format.”
No matter the project, Rowan trusts Smartpress’ online printing services to exceed his expectations. “The precision across multiple copies is impressive,” he said. “I can open a box and see what one copy looks like and know the rest of the batch is going to be the same.”
That trust even turned into a business strategy. “Now having produced several products with Smartpress, I’ve really been able to lean into the schedule of producing a book,” Rowan said. “The consistency of proofing, production time and delivery gives me the assurance that my books will turn out beautifully and on a tight schedule I can accurately plan around.”
Creating his own photo books gives Rowan a chance to reflect on the places he’s gone and the places he has yet to visit. And it’s not lost on him that it wouldn’t be possible without print.
“I think my customers all miss and crave printed media again,” he said. “[It’s] the ability to turn pages and experience a printed object instead of seeing images on their phones.”
This is what keeps Rowan going here, there and everywhere and coming back to Smartpress for his online printing: “Print is everything to my business. My whole model is based around high quality printing and binding.”
That, and the right shot at the right time.
Hint: Get more inspo for photography booklets and lookbooks: