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PDN: Can you say more about your editing process?
JH: I shot on film. I would scan just about everything. I made
prints roughly the size of the book— 11 x 12 Xerox prints—and
storyboarded it. I played with that forever. There are a lot of
connections page by page between the people that might have
been climbing partners, or maybe had an Everest or an Alps
connection. But the main thing is a visual flow, and where the
images were placed on the page. I spent months on that.
PDN: How did you achieve the visual flow?
JH: I shot a lot of different formats: 35 mm, 4 x 5, medium format,
rectangles, squares. They dictated the size of the book and the
pages. I wanted to go back and forth, page by page, between
formats. It’s just a personal esthetic, with a visual flow that keeps
your eye moving and the interest going.
PDN: Why did the book take so long to produce?
JH: It was all self-funded, and it began in the pre-internet days.
Just finding [some of the subjects] was a trick. Many times I would
spend my last money to take a one-way flight somewhere, then
figure out a way back.
PDN: How did you get a book deal with Mountaineers Books?
JH: They approached me. I was looking for a fancy New York art
book publisher. I didn’t think Mountaineers really does the kinds
of books I had in mind. The editor [Kate Rogers] said, “But we
want to.” You have to give people a chance, and Mountaineers
gave me a very good offer.
BELOW: Climber Gwen Moffat (born 1924) began climbing after deserting
the British Army during World War II. She went on to become Britain’s first
female mountain guide, as well as a mystery writer. OPPOSI TE PAGE: Chuck Pratt
(1939-2000) made the first ascents of several of Yosemite’s biggest walls.
Herrington says he was trying to avoid glamorizing the climbers, and show
them as they are now that “the footlights have gone out,” and they’ve had
time to reflect on their lives.