Did the book turn out the way I expected it to? Kind of, I wanted the book originally to be super personalised to the drivers, showing their personalities, emotions and thoughts on street drifting, with a real tight sense of community and breaching into it. I dont really think i’ve achieved this, but what I have achieved is better than what I originally imagined upon reflection. I enjoy how the book flows, the narrative and meaning behind the book. I like how the book goes through to discuss where the passion comes from, what the plans for the cars are and how their making their cars better each week.
People have asked me a few times why I’ve decided to blur the faces and number plates of the cars and drivers, I thought it would have been simple enough to understand, it’s illegal. The drivers are my fiends now and have asked to protect their identity, so I have. I think it works a lot better too with the anonymous nature of the pixelation. It gives people who wouldn’t have known what street drifting is the ability to connect it with being dangerous and illegal because of its use on TV shows like police interceptors. Which just re enforces the notion that what they’re doing is highly illegal. I feel I shouldn’t need to justify this, but it seems that not everyone knows what drifting is, which was apparent when I showed the book to the class for the first time. Should I have made the book easier to digest? Or does my point come across well enough? I think the blurring of number plates, pixelation of faces adds to the factors of believing that this is something naughty and dangerous, even though the images already show that – the effects re-enforces that meaning into the mind of those who do not perhaps have an interest in cars.
I wanted the book to be very clear in it’s narrative, I didn’t want to be hard to digest or confusing at all. I feel like it isn’t, if you know cars. For those who don’t know cars too well it might be a bit confusing, but this book is intended for those who are motoring enthusiasts to be honest. As street drifting gets a lot of stick from newspapers and police for obvious reasons, but one thing that sticks with the drivers is that the publications and reports label all drivers with certain cars as the same street hooligan thugs who have nothing better to do. It’s easy to discriminate on the drifters as they dont have a voice, and people just assume that what the see online of videos of people throwing their cars sideways in busy residential areas full of pedestrians, is what they’re all like. The aim of this book was to challenge that. The subjects in the book clearly are in the middle of nowhere, on a quiet country road away from any sign of civilisation to do what they love. They’re not being like the reckless drivers you see on YouTube or in newspapers, their doing it properly and safety. They even bring friends along to stand on the corners with radios to signal when it’s clear. Its as safe and as isolated as its physically can be. They do talk about doing drift track days and have even done them before, but they are expensive and being in the middle of Gloucestershire means that the tracks are hours away. Drift track days are the best way to do it, there’s no worries of being caught, crashing into a ditch or colliding head on with other cars, but they can be expensive and far away, which discourages people. Which forces them to take it to the street.
The book has certainly came along way since its version 1 stage. I explained a bit more detailed in the blog posts below about the construction and flow of the book in terms of narrative, but I really didn’t want to hold the viewers hand too much when they look at the images. I dont want my opinions of the actions to come acorss in the work, I wanted the book to be a document with myself being the observer of what is going on, I didn’t want to put myself in a position where my thoughts on the topic will corrupt the viewers thoughts on the work. I wanted it to be crisp, to the point and contextual. I feel like I’ve achieved this, it’s hard to tell considering I’ve been staring at the bloody thing for two months straight. There is definitely a lot of visible development going on when you look at the different issuu versions of the book. The flow, image selections and even document size all changes at points, simply from progression and feedback received. The most noticeable piece of feedback coming from Aaron who said that he felt the book needed a aggressive, menacing picture of the car to end the book. Sort of to say “don’t mess with me” style. I completely agreed, I was never satisfied with the endings before, and really wanted to get a cool rolling shot of the car. Which Aaron kindly helped me with too. Overall feedback was positive and great, only notable points were to keep checking my awful grammar, it was awful.
I also touched on the point of how hard it was to find actual decent photographers work on street drifting. It was super hard, not many people have actually compiled a body of work around street drifting or a particular crew/squad, most of the images found are from a spot of multiple drivers usually in Japan having a blast. Nothing i’ve seen has been this specific or dialled like I have been doing. There’s not many photobooks on actual drifting when I think about it, other than Speedhunters. Shame really as it’s an amazing sport to photograph. So how did I eventually find research? Well I knew of Dan Bridle through Facebook, seen him at drifting events photographing along side him in the media pit and have always been a fan of his work, very Japan’y and almost like a trend setter in a way with his style. He recently went to Japan a few years ago with Driftworks who were making a movie on the Japanese culture and how it’s as badass as everyone says it is. I watched the movie and looked at his images, fantastic stuff! Shirtstuckedin is also an amazing photographer. The way to find photographers in the drift scene is by looking at the coolest cars, the coolest cars often run a sticker of their most liked photographers or pages on their cars and pretty much everyone who had a badass car had a shirtstuckedin sticker. His one of the original photographers who were capturing amazing photographs when the popularity of drifting grew. His work is beautiful, using trees and foliage to his advantage often panning through them, amazing stuff. Again the same wide angle well composed images similar to Dans but all from the motherland of drifting, Japan. Shirtstuckedin is honestly one of the sites I look at that get inspiration and to pump myself up before going on shoot. It’s hard to explain, but often the photographs coming from car events are usually so stale, tightly composed images with no soul usually, Dan and Shirt’s images ooze with soul and personality, showing a raw badassness at the same time. I absolutely love both photographers’ work.
Back on topic, I feel like something is missing. I dont feel like the book has finished, to me it feels like there’s more to say – a never ending story. But as Anthony said, it might seem like it’s being dragged out if I keep going on for too long. I think thats just the nature of the subject though, the drifting happens every week, there is no end. The guys strive to be better, as drivers and also with making their cars stand out so one week the cars could look completely different, it’s an evolving thing that doesn’t really stop. Which is why owning one of these cars is such a dangerous hobby, it’s expensive. But I digress, maybe it’s a good thing it doesn’t feel complete, maybe the viewer will be able to sense that too with the ending shot of the car zooming away from the lights. That’s what I’m aiming for, a shot of the car zooming away to signify that it’s only just begun, there’s still so much to work on with the cars and there is no end point.
I’ve decided to print the book through Blurb. The size options are exactly what i’m looking for (10×8 landscape) and the paper options do seem very good, with thick high gsm paper, ideal for what I want. I’ve decided to go with a hardback cover too. I’m just not a fan of thin softcover books and I think a hardback book will look and feel alot better and more like a photobook. Softcovers just always feel a bit too cheap and flimsy to me. I did look into using Stroma and Freestyle Printing in London, but Blurb seemed to be the best choice for reasonably priced books who dont mind a one off book. It fits my needs perfectly, which is what I am after.
I wont bore you with this super long evaluation for much longer. I had a lot of fun making this book and bettered my InDesign skills at the same time, I feel a great sense of satisfaction from making photobooks. The book module last year was 100% my most favourite module as it allowed me to show my creativity and make something truly unique which even to this day I am really proud of myself for making and will be for a long time. I feel the same sense of accomplishment with this book. I love the feeling of actually making something rather than just looking at pixels on a screen. Once the book arrives through the post, all the stress and hard work will have paid off.