Thebaid Book Layout Reaches Key First Goal

Dear Friends and Supporters, Fellow Pilgrims All!

After several weeks of layout and design work since my last post, I’m happy to tell you we have reached a real milestone now, with significant progress being made each week.

Early Prototype Thebaid Book Cover,
Entrance to St Herman of Alaska Monastery, Platina, Calfornia

Also, before I get started, I wish to thank our new supporters who have pre-ordered the book. Interest continues to grow in the forthcoming Thebaid coffee table book, and we are deeply appreciative of each of you who have committed up front and pre-ordered your copy (or copies). I should mention that we will continue to accept pre-orders at The Thebaid Store up until the book goes to print. This is especially critical for the Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather, which will not be available through retail outlets, but only through pre-ordering using the link above. Of course the standard hardcover edition will be available through St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press, and a range of Orthodox and other resellers.

Back to today’s update!

The heart of the pre-press process has been our weekly production meetings, and with only a couple of exceptions, St. Tikhon’s Press (STMP) and I have been locked in for our Thursday afternoon sessions since early August now, and wow, they have become increasingly substantial over the last several weeks. Even on those couple of occasions when we haven’t been able to hold our weekly meeting, we have still been communicating in detail by email, sending notes and work lists back and forth, and sharing our files by Dropbox and Google Drive. By mid-September we were getting into precise questions of image placement, layout, sizing and sequencing, specific photo edits and text edits, so that our meetings have been ranging from 60 to 90 minutes on average! Which brings me to the big news for this update.

As of the latest batch of page mockups, STMP has completed about 90% of the initial page mockups, which nearly completes the basic layout. This is really the first major pre-press goal, and enables us now to go back through each regional section and monastery to confirm everything and complete any final image editing, etc. There are some special texts to be added and other features, but the heart of the book is firming up quite nicely.

It is important to note that our design and layout work is not merely about the details, the “nuts and bolts” of setting up a photo book. We have approached the book in a way similar to “composers” of a musical piece, seeking to present the photographs in a lyrical, poetic way, with movement, rhythm, harmony, dynamics. And this is the part of the process that I look forward to entering more deeply into, as it marks a return to the start, to the heart of the original vision I had for this project.

Watch for more frequent updates as we now move into the next stages, which will include the proofing process.

Thank you for your support and prayers, and for accompanying me on this pilgrimage!

Thebaid Book Design takes flight!

Dear Friends and Supporters, Fellow Pilgrims!

I am very happy to be able to share with you a significant amount of pre-press news since my mid-July update, as well as a page-spread example of our working design for the book:

With one or two exceptions, St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press (STM Press) and I have been conducting weekly production meetings (our “Thebaid Thursday” virtual sessions) since mid-July, and have actually worked through a few different design concepts during this initial period.

I really appreciate the creative and flexible approach Fr Mikel Hill has taken, and the opportunities for collaboration which make it all work so well for us both. We realized after our first couple of meetings that we were faced with a challenge over how to “introduce” each monastery throughout the book, given that some were older, larger, and well established, whereas others were only recently founded, sometimes with only one or two monastics, and with far fewer photographs for inclusion as a result. Larger monasteries would have numerous photographs spread across several pages, whereas smaller monasteries could conceivably be only two pages! How best to honor everyone as they are all striving worthily in their calling?

After a couple of variations, Fr Mikel has developed an intuitively strong design which lends itself just as well to the small sketes and hermitages as to the larger monasteries. You can see in the sample page spread above for Holy Myrrhbearers how this will generally look, with a full-page bleed image opposite the monastery intro page, featuring the name & location, a brief overview (typically my own reflections and impressions, providing a first-person journal experience), a small antique map with a red pin to show the location, and a small image or two to lead the viewer into that monastery section.

There is such variety to the types of images in my portfolio from these thirty plus monasteries, that this too created a challenge in layout and sequencing. In the above, we have a strong photograph at right showing a classic, almost iconic scene of the nuns ringing the bells to call the sisterhood to the divine service. The small image inset at left with room for a caption shows a more spontaneous moment akin to a photojournalistic approach. There is a little motion blur of the sheep, but otherwise it is tack sharp, and it shows a slice of life central to the monastery’s daily routine.

Regarding the photo of the sheep, I was told by the nuns that the sheep liked me and felt comfortable with me there. I asked how they could tell, and they replied with some humor, “Because they didn’t get nervous and didn’t make a mess!” It is little stories like these that I especially look forward to sharing, and which will, I hope, make this book an endearing, heartwarming experience for viewers.

So, this is now our basic template, with each monastery having a variation of this for its intro page. Subsequent pages will show a variety of views of the worship and life of the monastics, or of the grounds, guest house, and even other pilgrims.

I look forward to sharing more page spreads with you in the weeks ahead, and in keeping you updated on the progress. This is an exciting time with the layout in place for the first couple of monasteries, and it’s very rewarding to finally be hitting our stride on this.

Thebaid Images featured on covers of STM Press 2019 Liturgical Rubrics Book, Pocket Planner

The close relationship between the North American Thebaid Project and St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press continues to bear fruit, with the publication of the STM Press 2019 Liturgical Rubrics & Calendar, and their 2019 Pocket Planner, each of which feature a stunning photograph from The North American Thebaid on the cover.

These are in addition to the publication of the 2019 St Tikhon’s Monastery Press Liturgical Calendar, which features fourteen photographs from the Thebaid Project. More info, with images from this large-format wall-calendar and links to order from STM Press are provided here.

I continue to feel deeply thankful and honored that St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press has so embraced the North American Thebaid Project, and is using more of the images for their outstanding line of liturgical calendars, books and resources, which will go out to many hundreds of Orthodox parishes and thousands of believers across the United States and Canada.

Specifications for the STM Press 2019 Liturgical Rubrics & Calendar, and 2019 Pocket Planner follow:

Continue reading “Thebaid Images featured on covers of STM Press 2019 Liturgical Rubrics Book, Pocket Planner”

New Thebaid Store launches, featuring easy pre-order for the Thebaid Book

Pre-Order the North American Thebaid book,

a large-format, fine-art photography book to be published in Spring 2019 by St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press.

BookCover6-sm
One of several early designs for the Thebaid Book Cover. See more at the Thebaid Store.

The Thebaid Book will be published in both the Standard Edition with scuff-resistant, French-fold dust jacket, and a Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather with ribbon marker. Pre-order now on the new Thebaid Store.

Signed copies with Signed/Matted Fine Art Prints from the Thebaid Project are also available to pre-order in special bundles.

The Deluxe Limited Edition and the Signed/Matted Fine Art Prints are only available for a limited time, until we reach the printer’s deadline for the book.

Proceed to our new Thebaid Store for full details and to pre-order. 

ThebaidDeluxeLeatherBookCover-4.001
Prototype design for the Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather of the Thebaid Book. See more cover designs and pre-order on the new Thebaid Store.

 

 

St Tikhon’s Calendar featuring Thebaid Photographs goes to press

The 2019 St Tikhon’s Monastery Press Liturgical Calendar has reached its final form, and is going to press. I feel deeply honored to have contributed the images for next year’s calendar, which has as its theme and subtitle ‘Monasteries of North America’.

STM-Calendar-2019-Cover

The 2019 St Tikhon’s Liturgical Calendar is truly the “first fruits” of the North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage, and represents the first appearance in print of my photographs from my 2+ years journey to over thirty Orthodox Christian monasteries in North America.

In previous years the St. Tikhon’s Calendar has featured photos of Orthodox parishes, rare festal icons and frescoes, and other beautiful scenes to accompany the journey through the year. The guide to daily scripture readings, major feasts, fasting guides, and saints’ days makes a liturgical calendar such as this essential for Orthodox Christians seeking to live their lives in a manner faithful to Christ and His Church. The 2019 calendar’s visual reminder of our monastic brothers and sisters who have left the world to follow Christ and the Gospel will hopefully serve as added inspiration and encouragement for us all.

Scroll down for a gallery of several of the images featured in the calendar. From the St Tikhon’s Press product description:

The St. Tikhon’s Lectionary Wall Calendar has become a most treasured item in homes and churches throughout the Orthodox world in America. The 2019 calendar includes 12 photographs of North American monasteries, plus detailed information for each day of the liturgical year.

Calendars include:

  • Major Feast Days & Saints
  • Fasting Guidelines
  • Scripture Readings
  • Old Calendar Dates for Major Feasts & Saints
  • Excerpts from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon’s, Of What Life Do We Speak?, now available from STM Press
  • Special Liturgical Notes
  • 12 photographs of American monasteries including images from the forthcoming book from photographer Ralph Sidway, The North American Thebaid
  • Custom Imprint on orders of 20 or more
  • Order online here.

 

All photographs © Ralph H. Sidway.

 

NEW GALLERY POSTED: St Herman of Alaska Monastery, Platina CA

At long last, I’ve posted dozens of my photos from St Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California.

 

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
The rustic cell of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), preserved as it was during his lifetime.

St. Herman’s is perhaps best known for having been founded by Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), of blessed memory, who died in 1982 at the young age of 48. St Herman Press continues the publishing legacy of Father Seraphim and the early “Platina Years”, and this remote monastery continues to draw pilgrims from all over the world. I was able to enjoy nearly full week here, and come away with vivid memories and a strong sense of attachment to the monastery and brotherhood.

North American Thebaid Photographic PilgrimageI made a large number of photographs from my visit, and it has taken far longer to select and edit than I expected or wished — and I’m still not finished! Rather than delay any longer, I have posted Part 1 on the new Gallery page for St Herman’s, and hope to complete my editing over the next several days. The next batch includes some beautiful images made during the Vigil service, which I believe will be well worth the wait. (I will also be adding captions to the just posted photos in Part 1.)

As always, my heartfelt thanks for your patience with the slow pace of posting recently, and for your continued prayers and support.

Watch for more news soon on the publishing end of the project!

 

St Tikhon’s 2019 Liturgical Calendar to feature photographs from The North American Thebaid Project

I feel deeply honored to have several of my images from my two-year pilgrimage to over thirty Orthodox monasteries across North America included in this important calendar, which is an annual “must have” resource for Orthodox Christians in the USA and Canada.

St Tikhon 2019 Calendar Promo
Free custom imprint and free shipping for orders of 20 or more.

Previous years have featured photos of Orthodox parishes, rare festal icons and frescoes, and other beautiful scenes to accompany the journey through the year. The inclusion of daily scripture readings, major feasts, fasting guides, and saints’ days makes a liturgical calendar such as this essential to the serious Orthodox Christian who has dedicated him or herself to follow hard after Christ.

In addition to the photographs of life in American Monasteries, the 2019 St Tikhon’s Calendar also features select excerpts from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon’s landmark work, Of What Life Do We Speak?, making this an especially edifying and inspiring keepsake.

 

From St Tikhon’s Monastery Press announcement:

The St. Tikhon’s Lectionary Wall Calendar has become a most treasured item in homes and churches throughout the Orthodox world in America. The 2019 calendar includes 12 photographs of North American monasteries, plus detailed information for each day of the liturgical year.

Calendars include:

  • Major Feast Days & Saints
  • Fasting Guidelines
  • Scripture Readings
  • ‘Old Calendar’ Dates for Major Feasts & Saints
  • Excerpts from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon’s, Of What Life Do We Speak?
  • Special Liturgical Notes
  • 12 photographs of American monasteries including images from the forthcoming book from photographer Ralph Sidway, The North American Thebaid
  • Free Custom Imprint and Free Shipping on orders of 20 or more.

Visit the St Tikhon’s Monastery Press website for more info and to order. Below are a few of my photographs set to be featured in the 2019 Calendar:

 

 

Three New Galleries from California

Editing my photos has been in itself a great experience for me, to revisit my monastery pilgrimages from this summer, and rekindle the flame from these soul-stirring visits with monks and nuns who have left everything to follow Christ in the monastic life.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
The self-renewing icon of St Nicholas (left foreground), iconostasis at Holy Assumption Monastery, Calistoga CA.

 

I just finished posting three new galleries, each of which includes a brief overview of the monastery in question, with links for you to further explore and plan your own pilgrimages:

Watch for more new galleries soon, as I continue to catch up with photo editing. Next up are St Herman of Alaska in Platina CA, All-Merciful Saviour in Vashon Island WA, and the Alaskan pilgrimage, followed by my return trip to monasteries in Arizona and Texas.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Fr Innocent inspecting a hive; notice the bees all around him… and his smile!

If you haven’t yet pre-ordered the Thebaid book, I invite you to do so. For a limited time you can still get a signed/matted fine-art print from the Thebaid project, when you pre-order a signed book. The Deluxe Limited Edition Thebaid Book in bonded leather (signed & numbered) is still available for pre-orders, and also comes with a signed/matted fine-art print. Full details and easy online ordering here.

As always, my heartfelt thanks for your prayers and support!

 

ANOTHER NEW GALLERY: St Silouan Monastery in Sonora CA

This was a very special visit for me, as Monk Ignatius and I have been corresponding off and on for nearly a decade, and I have dear friends in Cincinnati who also have strong ties to the monastery.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage

Even on this brief visit, I was able to get a real sense of the Brotherhood’s vision for the monastery, which is beautifully situated near Yosemite, a modest drive from San Francisco, Fresno, and Sacramento. Fr Ignatius’ vision for the property and the brothers’ warmth and hospitality are quite infectious, and I hope to return again soon, God willing.

Proceed to the new Gallery page, which also includes links to the St Silouan Monastery web site, and additional info.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
The current main building…

 

NEW GALLERY: St Barbara Monastery, Santa Paula CA

The pace of my travels the past few weeks has been so steady as to leave no time for photo editing, but during this, my last week of travel on my western pilgrimage, I wanted to begin catching up on the many photos from California, Washington, Alaska, Arizona, and now Texas!

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Lighting the lampadas; St Barbara Monastery, Santa Paula CA.

First up in this new group of galleries is St Barbara’s in Santa Paula, a beautiful women’s monastery situated in the steep but rolling hills of Southern California, just a short drive from the Pacific and many beautiful destinations. Follow this link to the new gallery, where you can also proceed to the monastery website to learn more about this blessed and important community of nuns.