Oxford School of Photography

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Tag Archives: Photo-book

Better by Design: The role of design in the making of five modern photobooks

It seems to me that if you are even only sort of interested in photography you should be making photobooks of your work. The problem is design; it  is something that doesn’t come easily to everyone. I marvel at my friend Andrew Esson, who is a book designer, he instinctively knows how to a design a book that looks impeccable. Then again he has designed books for the UN, Houses of Parliament, the Royal Palaces …. Anyway this article found in the BJP looks at some recent photobooks and discusses the merits of design.

Jörg Colberg focuses on an overlooked aspect of the photobook, discussing the role of design in the making of five modern classics.

In the most basic terms, they are simply books made up of photographs, but of course there’s much more to the photobook than that. Typically they are carefully edited and sequenced, and the selection of the photographs, and their order, are crucial to whatever story is being told. But there’s another crucial element that’s too often ignored – the design.

Over the past few decades, photobook design has become an integral part of telling the story. Classics such as Walker Evans’ American Photographs used a very straightforward design: blank pages and picture pages alternating with very little text, if any. In contrast, contemporary photobooks have come to embrace the many different ways in which the design of a book – the graphic design as well as its actual physical properties – can help shape the message. The following books are some of the most striking examples I have come across. Interested? Read More Here

Broken Manual by Alec Soth.

Blurb Books – The Photo book

I can’t believe you do not know about photobooks, they have been around for a few years now and the quality and range keeps improving. I have made books using different suppliers for a number of years. My first was an iphoto book, later I tried a Photobox book, then an Aperture book and recently YourPhotobooks. I have moved around with suppliers to get an idea of the quality they produce and the ease of book assembly. This week I completed a second book on my trip to Laos over Christmas and the new year and this time I went for Blurb Books. It is possible these are the market leaders although I am not sure how you could work that out. Their overall quality is excellent and their technical sophistication, explaining colour space, providing icc profiles etc far exceeds those of the other suppliers I have tried.

©Keith Barnes

Blurb Books a photography book by Keith Barnes about Laos

If you are interested to look inside my book click on the cover and it will take you to the Blurb site where you can preview it’s content.

I decided to go for the largest size available and as I had shot rather a lot of images whilst away it has a lot of pages. I tried using the templates for pages supplied but found this didn’t suit the layout I wanted. One of the very nice things about Blurb is that you can create your own page templates and save them so it is possible to define something unique to your purpose. Not only do you have choice of book sizes but also cover types, hard or soft back, wrap around or dust jacket, there are about 5 different paper types you can select also. This really is as close to a bespoke service as you could want.

The cost reflects the service, I always budget about £1 a page for an A4 photobook, this is pretty cheap if you think you can get several images per page. I probably have about 200 images in my Laos book and even at the cost of £70 for the 150 pages that is still only about 40p per image and many are full A4 in size. I decided not to try to make a profit on my book but Blurb allows you to set your own price and make profit on the difference when someone buys it. You can also put your books in their library for the world to peruse and choose to buy if they like your work.

Why am I telling you about this, well I have always thought of photography as something that has a point when it becomes physical. Viewing on screen on line is OK but if you want to collect your work into something that actually reflects your portfolio then prints or books are a must. You will be surprised at the reaction from family and friends when you show them a book(s) of your work and you will always have something to hand to show, no need to boot up the computer.