Composing with Images Press (CWiP) is a small not-for-profit independent book publisher (501[c] status to come soon!) established by Bill Wolff and Billie Hara on June 20, 2010. We publish photo and art books that bring together image and text to engage creative, social, and cultural issues within a particular theme. All proceeds are donated to charity. We also host a dynamic theme-based and growing photoblog.
Photo Bloggy Beginnings
CWiP began on July 12, 2009, as Composing with Images, Bill Wolff and Billie Hara’s photoblog. They conceived of the idea one day while talking about photographs on Twitter. (They actually met on Twitter.) At first they thought they would find a name that played on the whole Billie/Bill thing. That didn’t happen.
Here’s how the photoblog has worked (we are looking for photobloggers to join Bill and Billie and help keep the blog going strong!). Each week there has been a weekly theme (since we’re both die-hard Springsteen fans, often a Springsteen-related theme was thrown in at the last minute). We each choose a photo we think best depicts/speaks to/interprets that theme and compose a brief reflection about the photo. The photos and reflection are then posted online. The goal has been to post weekly, but sometimes things get in the way and we haven’t been able to.
But, what started as a desire to share photograph became something much more important: it stimulated and strengthened our interest in photography and the relationship between image and text. It has been and continues to be a great deal of fun.
The Birth of CWiP
Then, on April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers, and ultimately spewing 153 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. As we sat and watched the events of the disaster unfold, seemingly endlessly, two things became clear. First, we needed to find a way to help. But, without training in cleaning oil from beaches and animals, there was little we could do. Second, we realized that the impact of this disaster was felt so strongly as a result of the proliferation of images of the event.
Though we couldn’t help with the cleanup efforts directly, we thought we could build on the importance of images by employing photographs not to continue to depict the horrors of the atrocity but to get people to focus on the Gulf that they have known and loved. To do this we would have to publish a book that included photographs from ordinary citizens and professional photographers alike. And, to reduce overhead costs that could go to benefit oil spill cleanup efforts, we knew that we would have the opportunity to leverage the possibilities afforded by books printed on demand. We chose Blurb as our printer because they had a section of their online book store already dedicated to philanthropic goals: Blurb for Good. We decided that $5.00 per book (100% of the proceeds) would go directly to charity.
So, on June 20, 2010, we released a call for entries on our blog. The submissions came pouring in. On October 20, 2010, 6 months after the BP oil spill started, we released Photos for the Gulf. It became an immediate best seller. Six months after that, on April 20, 2011, the one year anniversary of the oil spill, we released Photos for the Gulf: First Anniversary Edition (with a special guest introduction) It, too, became an immediate best seller. As of this writing, book sales and submission fees have resulted in raising $995.00 for The Gulf Restoration Network—and the books are still selling. Not too shabby for a blog turned publisher in the space of a month.
The Future of CWiP
The success of the Photos for the Gulf books has encouraged us to continue publishing books that raise money for causes that are doing important work to better the communities in which we live. We are pleased to have several projects in the works (information to be released soon!) and, if things keep going the way they are, we’ll be able to sell via on demand and via more traditional methods.
We are also dedicated to growing our community of photo bloggers. Our dedication is strong for several reasons. First, we enjoy blogging and photography and think photo blogs are a great way to merge the two together. Second, we understand that publishing in the future is not going to be just about signing an author, getting the text, and distributing it to Barnes & Noble or Amazon—especially for small publishers. Rather, publishing is going to be about growing and nurturing an online community of people who are interested in the work the publisher is doing. We see the photo blog and our new email subscriptions as ways to build our community, spread the word about the work we and the community are doing, and hopefully sell books the proceeds of which will help the communities who need it.
So, check out our new web site, take a look at our books, photoblog, and tumblog. Buy a book or two. Submit a photo in response to one of our calls for entry. Inquire in to joining our photo blogging community. And if you have ideas for future book projects, we’re always interested, so send them along!
As always, thank you for your support and for supporting the communities our books are helping.
Have a great day.
Meet the CWiP Volunteer Executive Collaborators
Bill Wolff, Co-Founder and Editor
Bill is an assistant professor of Writing Arts at Rowan University in southern New Jersey, where he teaches courses on visual rhetoric, new media, and the history and technologies of writing. He has a PhD in English (Computers and English Studies) from The University of Texas at Austin, an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Cincinnati, and a BA in English from Union College. He has received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize three times. You can find him online at his professional teaching and research web site, his photography web site, twitter, flickr, and a variety of other places. Bill has been an avid photographer since taking an evening Intro to Photography course in Austin, TX, in 2001. His photos have appeared in galleries in Salt Lake City, UT, West Orange, NJ, and Newark, DE. He has an upcoming show in Wilmington, DE.
Billie Hara, Co-Founder and Editor
Billie is a scholar and teacher whose work is in the area of writing, literacy, and rhetoric, and is a Lecturer at The University of Texas at Arlington. For several years, Billie has been developing alternative pedagogies that aid in the teaching of writing to underprepared students. These pedagogies often include photography. She has a PhD in English (Rhetoric and Composition) from The University of Texas at Arlington, an MA in English from Southern Methodist University, and a BA in English / Psychology from Texas Christian University. You can find her online at her professional teaching and research web site, her photography web site, twitter, flickr, and a variety of other places. Billie has been taking photographs for over 20 years, first with a SLR camera and now with a DSLR. She’s a committed Nikon user. Billie’s work has most recently appeared in Windward Review.
Jackie Yaeger, Creative Director
Jackie is a self-proclaimed indie pop-designster, typo assassin, and word nerd. She has a photographic mind. Finding a story in everything, from old TVs on a well-manicured lawn, to adults reminiscing on playground swings, she tells her stories through the magical relationship of word and image. With a background in writing and design, Jackie lives for finding the spark in everyday occurrences and sharing them with strangers. Jackie has an MA in Publications Design from the University of Baltimore, and a BA in Writing Arts from Rowan University. She is currently a Junior Copywriter at One Trick Pony. You can find her online at her professional site and twitter.