SoFoBoMo - The History and Details

In 2008, Paul Butzi launched the first Solo Photo Book Month.  It continued, with entries coming from all over the world, for the next many years, but eventually he retired the website.  It was taken up again by someone named Suprada, who ran it for several more years but has since retired it.

The explanation below is from Paul’s original event in 2008, modified here to reflect our own dates and contact info.

Solo Photo Book Month

Posted in Solo Photo Book Month by Paul Butzi on January 18, 2008

Novelists have NaNoWriMo – the National Novel Writing Month, during which hundreds of thousands of novelists and folks who want to be novelists (even just for a month) write a novel, start to finish, in one month.

Musicians have NaSoAlMo – the National Solo Album Month, during which a large bunch of musicians write, perform, and record the music for a solo album.

And now I’m pleased to announce the first ever SoFoBoMo – Solo Photo Book Month, for photographers who want to take a crack at putting together a solo photo book in one month.

Why is it called SoFoBoMo and not NaSoPhoBoMo?

It’s called SoFoBoMo because it’s fun to say, and because it’s easier to type than NaSoPhoBoMo. I dropped the Na part because it’s clear at the outset that it’s involving photographers from around the world, and thus it really ought to be InSoFoBoMo, but again that’s just too much. SoFoBoMo is just right.

When is Solo Photo Book Month?

Because we’re just getting started, we’re doing a fuzzy month. You should pick a 31-day period that starts no earlier than [May 20, 2020], and ends no later than [July 20, 2020]. In other words, if you start on [May 20], your month ends on [June 20]. If you start on [June 10], your month ends on [July 10]. Having everyone do it exactly at the same time would be nice, because it would allow for maximum sense of camaraderie, but everyone has different schedules and this fuzzy month start/finish plan buys some of that without the inflexibility.


How many photos do I need for the book?

35 – large enough that it can’t be flung together from a single afternoon’s photography, short enough to be doable. I understand that for some folks 35 is big number. For the folks who have been running photo-a-day photoblogs, it’s child’s play. 35 is a reasonable compromise. It’s the number of photos in the book “The Gift of the Commonplace”, a book of photographs by Ruth Bernhard. If it’s long enough for Ruth Bernhard, it’s long enough for us. UPDATE: You can have more than 35 photos if you like.

Can I include photos I’ve already taken prior to the start of my 31 days?

No. The book should include only text written and photos made (including both exposure and any editing) during the month.

Can I use ideas or plans I had ahead of time?

Yes. Planning ahead, getting hold of equipment or software you plan to use, and learning the skills to put together whatever book-like thing is the final result are all things that you can do in advance. But you have to take the photos and write the text in that one month.

What qualifies as a completed photo book?

The goal is a nicely formatted PDF with the photos in it. That means the book might range from just a PDF assembled with the automated PDF merge in Photoshop all the way to a ready to send off to the POD publisher document assembled with Quark Express or Adobe InDesign. I don’t think it’s a problem to have a broad range of what’s acceptable; NaSoAlMo accepts any sort of recording at all, from an answering machine up through studio recordings. People will set their goal to match their own interests and level, which is probably a Good Thing.

So I don’t need to actually finish with a printed copy of the book?

Nope. A PDF file will do.

How do I sign up?

[Email Lorraine Day at [email protected], expressing your intent].

How do I prove that I completed my book in the 31 days?

Get your finished PDF to David Johnson by the end of your ‘fuzzy month.’.  His email is [email protected].

All I need to do to prove that I finished a book is get it to [David]? Won’t that make it easy to cheat?

Yes, it will. This is like playing solitaire – the satisfaction is almost entirely in winning, and if you cheat, you only cheat yourself.

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