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The Making of a Perfect Photo Book

January 17, 2023

By Sponsored (Saal Digital)

All Photos © Jay P. and Julene Morgan of The Slanted Lens

Jay P. and Julene Morgan of The Slanted Lens show off their best commercial work through a Saal Digital Professional Line book.

After decades of high-level productions in commercial photography and video, Jay P. and Julene Morgan began sifting through their archives for the most memorable images that had teachable lighting setups.

Since 2010, Jay P. has posted imaging tutorials on YouTube to over 436,000 followers under the moniker The Slanted Lens, working with Julene, his spouse, who acts as art director and producer for their team. But now they had a new format to work with—a printed photo book that illustrated how they achieved their high-impact and meticulously crafted scenes.

“We wanted something that would show our work, but also be instructional,” Julene explained in a recent phone call. “We went through all of our files, finding images that we had lighting diagrams for and then narrowing those down to the top ones that we wanted to show in the book. It took a long time, but it was rewarding to go through all of our years of being in business and seeing all the different work we’ve done.”

They collaborated with Saal Digital on the project, opting for a Professional Line book, which includes a sumptuous acrylic cover, thick pages, leatherette binding, and expertly crafted surface options such as linen, cork or wood-like textures.

They chose a snowy nighttime coffee shop scene for the cover — one of their larger productions that looks straight out of the mid-20th century.

“[The cover] is nice and bright and vibrant,” Julene said. “And the image is protected because of the acrylic surface.”

High-Production Images

Jay P. and Julene sequenced their photo book with some of their most striking photographs, from Full House and Fuller House actor Jodie Sweetin as a 1950s housewife in a kitchen scene gone awry—think stovetop fire and foaming dishwasher—to one of the duo’s signature “fantasy portraits” featuring a model in a dramatic, windy autumn setting. The Morgans’ cinematic taste extend to period and historical reenactment images as well, from wartime-era tableaus to Prohibition-style portraits. Their Professional Line book provided plenty of opportunity for double-spread panoramic images to show off every detail of the scenes.

High Gloss and Luxurious Touches

The Morgans are known for punchy images, so they opted for glossy printing over matte.

“If you do something that’s really calm and serene, or monochromatic, you probably want a matte finish. But we have lots of color, lots of action, so glossy just seemed to fit well.”

In keeping with their taste for elegance and drama, the book has mostly all-black features: black leatherette binding and a matching case, with a dark ribbon inside that helps lift the book out.

As for the total effect, Julene said: “It actually looks and feels like a beautiful piece of art. You feel like you should have white cotton gloves on when you handle it. When you open the cover you are greeted with an all-black glossy spread on the inside front cover.”

Intuitive Layouts

The Morgans organized the book by theme: period pieces and historical reenactments in chronological order, followed by fantasy portraits.

With a background in graphic design, Julene found Saal Digital’s software to be intuitive.

“One of the things I really did like is that I could upload all of the images at once and then pull them into the spreads as I was working on them,” she explained. With different template options to choose from, she could select and arrange each one with ease.

A Personal Addition

After completing their instructional book, the idea struck for a second project, one that was a bit more personal. Like most parents, Jay P. and Julene had a cache of images of their four adult children over the years, from 1984 to 2019. But they also had a collection of images of them all on set together when they were younger.

“We would often take our family to photograph them after the clients left. And so we have this cool collection of family images on these great sets,” Julene explained.

They put together an elevated family album and made four copies as Christmas gifts, a touching tribute to their family over the decades. As for their instructional book, it has found a home in the college classrooms where Jay P. teaches.

“He uses it in his classes all the time, to show students the lighting diagrams, the final images and the build-ups,” Julene explained. “It ended up being a great teaching tool as well as a nice coffee-table-type book to feature the work.”