“THE SIGNS OF A TIME”2017
BOOK OF PHOTOGRAPHY, 117 PAGES
EDITING & ARRANGEMENT BY JESSE PAUL WARREN
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY JESSE PAUL WARREN
[ LINER NOTES ]
IN JANUARY OF 2017 I was living in Washington D.C., working for a newly elected United States Senator.
My friends were all attending the Women’s March, and normally I would have gone with them. But I was asked to staff my boss and his family at the March, taking pictures of them for the day.
On the morning of January 21st I ventured alone into the March with my camera, looking for my boss near The Capitol.
That proved to be an impossible task. Millions of people had formed an impenetrable wall on the Southeastern side of the National Mall where we were supposed to meet.
DUE TO THESE UNPREDICTABLE CIRCUMSTANCES, I found myself alone, in this historic moment, with nothing but a camera. Had I been able to join my friends, I probably wouldn’t have taken my camera. I would have just enjoyed the moment.
Instead, I was alone, wiht only my camera. That freed me to go wild taking pictures of everything: every sign, every scene, every moment. By the end, I had thousands of photographs to sort through.
OVER THE TWO YEARS THAT FOLLOWED, I worked to turn them into a photography book. I thought it would be quick and straightforward. But it became a much more involved project.
I had to figure out how to arrange the photographs. Most of them were of people holding signs. Should they be organized in sections based on issue? Could they somehow be woven together to tell a single story?
AS I WORKED THROUGH THIS, words began to emerge, inspired by the photographs. The focus became revealing the deeper truth underlying each sign: truths so universal that no one could dismiss them, no matter their political views.
For example, a woman holding an image of Mt. Rushmore replaced with 4 women led to “We become who we are when we’re shown who we can be.”
Or a woman holding a sign that read “Give me liberty or give me death
Eventually, over the course of a year, these underlying truths were woven together, forming one cohesive storyline in the form of a single poem.
DESIGN-WISE, REMOVING THE BACKGROUNDS drew attention to the souls in the pictures. I wanted people to imagine who the person was, what they had experienced, and how it had led to the sign they chose to carry.
This proved to be an extremely tedious task, for which I had to hire the help of a freelance graphic designer.
THE FIRST EDITION OF THE BOOK was very long. Each line was split over two pictures rather than one.
After printing this edition, however, I realized I need to cut it down. The final edition cut the length in half, from 218 to 118 pages. The dimensions of the book also got smaller.
AFTER MULTIPLE ITERATIONS of the book, The final version — hardcover and handbound — was the result. It included a cloth printed cover printed in Vermont on Japanese linen, and the finest printing and paper possible.
A PDF SCAN of the final version is available for free below.