Book Review: Pacific Northwest Iron

Nigel Williams pnwi book cover for review articleNigel Williams, M.A. has produced a new book, available through the website The book is a collection of 119 images captured during his journey along the Pacific Northwest Coast of the U.S. and Canada, specifically Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The book is titled Pacific Northwest Iron, and the images within are those of mechanical artifacts, often rusted and forgotten that have become part of the landscape. Williams’ obsession for not only detail, but discovering these sometimes hidden industrial subjects and creating photographs that transform these rusted, old objects into abstract art is what makes this a unique book.

What I like about this book is that the photographer has captured some great details that I’d bet are usually overlooked by passers-by to the areas along the Pacific Northwest that he traveled through. Among the occasional landscapes are close-up images of the locks and hinges of old iron doors, teeth of a tractor’s scoop half hidden among the dirt so it looks like a zipper, and subjects like iron doors covered in chipped paint, broken window panes, and rust-worn objects that become abstract art, full of color and shadow. Some of the more interesting photos are the ones that capture a manufacturer’s name or other description—that you know was forged decades ago.

Black and White images are mixed with color photographs. The author has also included 21 maps in the book, which show exactly which areas of the Pacific Northwest that the images were captured in. Williams has also included detailed information and anecdotes within the captions.

Non-Traditional Book Publishing

Williams has utilized on-demand publishing, for his fine-art photography, for a number of reasons, including exploring the option of selling only through the web instead of going the traditional publisher/bookstore route. He chose Blurb’s on-demand printing services. Williams explains: “They already have in place the infrastructure for selling your books, with both the sales website, and the ability to control and pay (eventually) your own markup.” Blurb also offers free book design software, and Williams says he’s found them to be cheaper than most other on-demand printers.

He also created his own website for selling his books. “It gives me the freedom to change where I direct people to purchase the books, so that if I decide to use another supplier, or I get a publisher’s contract, I haven’t got to start from scratch with all my marketing efforts; and I can put my personal slant on my advertising and marketing,” he says. The last time Williams checked, there were around 6,000 fine-art photography books listed as available for purchase on Blurb, which might take sales away from his titles. “Also, Blurb’s book-preview-widget makes the use of your own website much more effective, because it means that you can offer viewers the opportunity to look at your book properly without leaving your website—they are only taken away once they have made the decision to purchase,” he adds.

The biggest downside to print-on-demand books is that they are too expensive for most ordinary folks. And, by using Blurb’s software, you’re tied into the site. If you did the layout of your book in InDesign, or Quark Xpress for example, you wouldn’t be tied into a specific printer’s software system. “Despite all this, I still think print-on-demand is a tremendous enabling technology. It gives you the opportunity (if you have the time) to create books for yourself, your colleagues, clients, friends and family—either simply as a record, or as an alternative presentation method of your work. As a way of making money without other investment though, it’s a non-starter,” Williams concludes.

For more information about Pacific Northwest Iron, visit

Photographers, to find out more about Blurb, visit

— Diane Berkenfeld


About PictureSoup
PictureSoup is the online destination for your [photo] inspiration.



  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Diane Berkenfeld, Picture Soup. Picture Soup said: Photographers, check out this book review, with an on-demand printing twist: [...]

Speak Your Mind