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Book Review: Photojojo! by Amit Gupta with Kelly Jensen

Reported by Kristine Fowler

A few months back, somewhere in the blogosphere, I saw mention of what was then a newly published book called Photojojo!: Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas. It sounded pretty cool, and on what was really an impulse buy, I ordered it up from Amazon.com. Right on schedule, it arrived a couple of weeks later. I flipped through it and got really excited about all the great content and ideas. Then, as they say “life happens” and quite frankly it went to the shelf. Recently, though, I pulled it out again, and started to give it a thorough once over — again I got excited. With a great sigh of relief, I am now 100% convinced that my impulse buy was a good one.

If you’re unfamiliar with Photojojo! (like I was), you might not know that the original Photojojo is actually a website – www.photojojo.com– that is devoted to bringing you (in their words) ‘the very best Photo tips, DIY projects, and Gear.’ They publish a newsletter weekly, and have all past newsletters archived on the site. The book Photojojo! is kind of like a “Best of” Photojojo.com project book. There is also a Photojojo Flickr group and a page on Facebook. If you are already a subscriber of Photojojo.com, and chances are you might be (as there are over 100,000 existing subs), you are probably wondering why on earth it took me so long to join in the fun.

So, about the book…..

The book Photojojo! includes more than 50 projects — all having to do with either photos or photography. Most of the projects require only general crafting skills and full instructions and illustrations are provided for each one. It is full of bright, fun and colorful photos – loads of tips and tricks and oddly enough – humor. You need simply read the back cover to see what I mean by this as here the author boldly tells you to “STOP READING THE COVER, SILLY, the inside’s way better” and they’re right!

The projects in the book are divided into 2 sections:

“Part One: Do More With Your Photos” gives you loads of uniquely creative ideas for using your photos ranging from home decor (e.g. Photo Lampshade), to fashion (e.g. The Purse with the Secret Photo Lining), to food (e.g. Make Photo Cupcakes), Photo Gifts (e.g. DIY Snowglobe) and even some Photo Toys and General Silliness (e.g. make Photo Tattoos).

“Part Two: Have More Fun with Your Camera” includes ideas to get you shooting (e.g. a DIY Time Machine), tips on how to use your camera in creative ways (e.g. Camera Toss) and even some things that the authors call ‘Camera Hacks’ (e.g. Turn a Bottle Cap into a Tripod Head).

Not all of the creative projects in the book appeal to me, nor should they, since we can’t all like everything; I probably won’t be trying the ‘Camera Toss’ any time soon (yes, it’s almost exactly as it sounds), but Photojojo is definitely an interesting read. The authors have truly succeeded in bringing the idea of Fun! to your photos and photography.

So what did I create after reading Photojojo!? Here’s a quick peek:

Project #1: Instant Book
As soon as I saw this one, I just knew I had to try it out. Here is how it all starts (I used Adobe Photoshop to set this up, but any other similar image editing application can be used as well)

and with a few simple folds, a slice and a teensy bit of adhesive, you can transform it into this — an instant mini-book:

Here’s what the cover looks like, although there’s a boo-boo as you can see a coloured photo edge on the right-hand side. This is NOT the fault of the instructions provided by Photojojo, but rather my own poor photoshopping skills here. I must not have had everything lined up quite perfectly — but you get the idea.

Is that cute or what? Now there are soooo many other projects swirling through my head using this mini-book format (think favourite recipes, quotes, verses, scripture, favourite people, etc.) and the cover could also be dressed up ever-so-sweetly with some items from my scrapbooking stash, but since this article is about Photojojo, I’ll have to leave those other ideas until another time.

Project #2: Photo Ornaments
This project looked like fun and the instructions straightforward enough so I gave it a whirl. Here’s my result:

Was it as easy to construct as I first thought? No. Would I make it again? Probably. It’s a neat-looking, low-cost and personalized decorating approach, but if you’re looking for staying power – this is not it. They are definitely what I would call delicate. During construction, I had trouble with the brads that hold the pieces together at each end. The first ones I tried had prongs that were much too short to hold the unit together, and it just slipped apart when I tried to shape it into the ball. I did find some longer ones in my stash though and these worked much better in the end.

Project #3: Turn a Fork into a Photo Stand
This one sounded pretty crazy and I just had to try it out. Believe it or not, it was trickier than I first imagined. There was a lot of trial and error getting the prongs bent just right so that the fork would stand up on it’s own. I think my version could still use some tweaking to neaten it up, but for now here it is.

A back-side view:

Front-side View:

And finally straight-on:

When all is said and done – it’s definitely different – and maybe even a conversation starter if placed in ‘just the right spot’ in your home. Unfortunately, I don’t see many of these in my future though – it’s just not my thing I guess. If trying this project out for yourself, I would not recommend using your grandma’s fine flatware – she would not be impressed. I would suggest checking out the dollar marts and thrift stores instead!

So to sum it up… here are my thoughts on the book Photojojo!

Pros:

  • Price-wise the book is a fair value: although technically a soft cover, the cover is super durable and the inside pages are made from high quality, heavy-weight smooth paper (cover price $21.99 US/ $26.99 Can).
  • Supplies for some of the projects are a little ‘unusual’ (e.g. inkjet printable photo fabric) but Photojojo always gives you tips (often citing online sources) to find them.
  • Beautiful color photos and easy to follow step-by step instructions for each project/technique.
  • Inspires you to get those digital photos off the computer and into your life.
  • It’s an entertaining read – Gupta’s and Jensen’s humorous approach to photos and photography is refreshing.
Cons:
  • You can get most of this information from the Photojojo website newsletter archive and can get even more each week with a free subscription.
  • Some of the ideas included (e.g. The Amazing Doggie Cam: Attaching your camera to your four-legged friend which is featured on the cover) are just down right silly.

Have you read Photojojo!: Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas? Any favorite projects to share? Leave us a comment (and link, if you have one), and let us know!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

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4 Responses to Book Review: Photojojo! by Amit Gupta with Kelly Jensen

  1. RosieP February 22, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Thank you for this review. I think the one thing I love most about Craft Critique is that I find out about things I wouldn’t otherwise have ever found out about on my own.

  2. rachel johnson February 22, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    I love book reviews and I have been curious about PhotoJoJo, so thank you for this article.

    I love making those folded booklets!

  3. rush8888 February 23, 2010 at 3:03 am #

    i made a small scrapbook sometime ago for my daughter using photos. other than that, my photos have yet to be incorporated into my art. thank you for showing a few ways to work with photos. i love making those little books, too.

  4. Janelle February 24, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    This sounds like a great book. I have done the fork stand before and used it for many of my greeting card photos for my blog. Thanks for the reivew!