In the fall of 2003, I applied for and was retained as editor in chief of the Focal Encyclopedia of Photography - fourth edition. The first edition was published in 1956, the year I was born. I am not sure that I had any real sense of the enormity of the task that I had just signed on to do, but the anticipation of having my own book was quite a motivator. In December of that same year, I began what would turn into a four year journey (struggle) for me. It quickly became apparent to me how naive I was about this job. My fundamental objective was to create an edition in a way that was exciting and would be uniquely different in this era of web based reference tools. Most aspects of the job I needed to learn on the job since I had no prior experience managing anything this complicated.

I worked with Diane Heppner an acquisitions editor at Focal Press. Diane had the enormous responsibility of keeping the project on schedule and ensuring the task was accomplished on time and on budget. It seemed like an insurmountable task to me, but what did I know, I had never published a book before. The complexities of producing a volume like this with more than 100 contributors made the work all the more challenging. Diane's experience and creativity when confronted with the various dilemmas that I created was instrumental in moving me and the other editors through the phases of starting, doing, and finishing the work.

The fourth edition's revision was undertaken because the award winning third edition was written just at the time when digital technologies were more or less coming into the market and the Internet was just a mere child when compared to what it has become. The third edition was published in 1993 and was edited by 2 of my former teachers/colleagues at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Dr. Leslie Stroebel and Dr. Richard Zakia. Neither was interested in taking on the job of editor in chief but both were genuinely interested in helping me be successful and offered sage and timely advise as I struggled with how to create this edition
A book like this required enormous amounts of time and work from so many people. In the end though I think this edition will be defined by the vision of the various section editors to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude. Their fortitude and brillance allowed this book's content to be unique, contemporary and exciting. Inviting and working with some of the world's foremost experts in their fields was terribly exciting. Tom Lopez, Nancy Stuart, Grant Romer, Mark Osterman, David Malin, Scott Williams, and Franziska Frey, thank you.
This job was truly a challenge of a lifetime. There were more than 100 authors involved in the edition's content creation as well as contributors of a number of photographs/illustrations. A complete listing of all contributors can be seen in the book itself. As the Encyclopedia became more real, one pressing need was to include as many reproductions of important photographs and photographers as possible. I was fortunate to have had the endorsement and support of the George Eastman House and International Museum of Photography Film for this edition to achieve that goal.


Visit Focal Press's web site at

A great book review can be read at:

Another review

Yet Another

Hear an interview about the book's production life cycle at : Mac Edition Radio with Harris Fogel

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