Jake McGuire is the author of the new book Washington, D.C.: A Little Square Picture Book. A photographer, his work has appeared in many publications, including travel and airline magazines. He is based in Washington, D.C.
Q: How did this new book come about, and what was your vision for it?
A: I have seven coffee-table books in print but they are somewhat heavy and cumbersome for visitors, conventioneers, and diplomats to take home. So I created a small-gift sized book that fits in a pocket or purse.
In addition, as an inauguration is coming up, every four years I create and offer gifts to D.C.-area hotels as room gifts during inaugural week. And, I personally went around to––at last count–– about 200 hotels in the D.C. area, dropping off samples as possible gifts.
Q: How did you select the photographs to include, and the order in which they are placed?
A: Mostly my favorite photos. Many coffee-table book publishers…like several photos per page, and full-bleed images to the edge of the paper so, in my opinion, the books can be cluttered.
I chose one picture per page and lots of "white space" for a Zen-like simplicity. With white space all around the images, it's like a little art gallery in the reader's hands.
I learned many years ago in offering photos to the likes of the D.C. convention bureau to show them a set of photos that all contrast with each other: B&W next to color, wide angle next to telephoto, simple composition next to a complex composition, multicolor next to monotone.
My technique started early on when I sent them a sheet of color slides, 20 to a page, and they apparently weren't impressed and said, "Can you send us a different set?"
I thought these people must be blind, so I merely rearranged them so the strongest images were in the center of the sheet, sent them back and they said, "Oh, these are great!"
In addition, for placement order since it an Inauguration year, I made the front of the book "top heavy" with the White House, Marine One, etc.
Q: Do you have a favorite among the photos you've taken?
A: Probably my "Marine One" photo on page 5. People ask how I got (achieved) the shot so I tell them, "I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right lens, pointed in the right direction."
Q: What is unique for you about Washington, D.C., as a subject for photography?
A: It is a combination: history, architecture, a Parisian street layout, monuments and memorials not just office buildings, the long Mall with great views where I can juxtapose structures, and lastly––and important for a freelancer––the city has meetings, conventions, political events and millions of tourists all who are potential customers in some fashion!
Q: What are you working on now?
A: My novel "Little Square Book" format is selling like hotcakes so I'm likely going to do a book on San Francisco, Chicago, and other meeting and convention cities.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Yes! I created the book for group sales so my target audience isn't really individual buyers or bookstores. I'm hitting up the meeting, convention and hotel industry where they buy 100, or 200, or 400 at a time. In the last week, I've got orders for about 300 books a day!!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb