Photo book layouts | Documentary Perspectives

OUR TRUE INTENT IS ALL FOR YOUR DELIGHT  – The John Hinde Butlin’s photographs (2011)

The choice of photograph for the front cover of this book is interesting, often with photo books the title of the book is placed over a photograph with lots of negative space, or the front cover is left blank other than the title. In this case the title has been written in white text and placed right in the centre of the photo. The photograph is busy, with lots of subjects and bright colours, however the text has been placed mostly over the swimming pool, which provides a bit of negative space.

The book begins with an introduction from Martin Parr, written in black text on white pages. After the introduction the photographs begin. The layout is the same on every single page of the book, with a photograph on the right hand page, surrounded by a white border and then the caption on the left hand page, written in small, plain text so as not to distract from the image. I think that this layout is definitely what works best for this style of photograph. There is so much going on in each of the images that it would look messy to place more than one on each double page spread. Every single one of the photographs is landscape, which adds to the consistency of the book.

I like the idea of putting all of the writing at the beginning of the book, I think that this sets the scene and would influence how people interpret the photographs, but I also think that it’s nice to not have text distracting from the images (other than the captions) as the reader looks through the rest of the book.

WALLS OF ARAN by Sean Scully (2007)

The front cover of this book is very simplistic with the chosen photo reflecting the title. The text has been placed in the negative space that is the sky.

This book has been split into 3 chapters, each one showing a different island. Each chapter begins with an introduction from Sean Scully, written almost in the style of a diary entry, recalling the different journeys to the islands. There is then a page with 3 abstract images on and the name of the Island written in gaelic. This same layout is repeated for each of the chapters. There is no particular consistency in the layout of the photographs. On some pages the photographs are full bleed while on others they have a border. There are pages where there are multiple photos to a page and there are occasionally blank pages too.

I think that this layout works well for the style of photographs.The walls that are bing photographed are all completely unique, they are different sizes and styles and I think that this is reflected in the layout.

Again I like how all of the text has been paced at the beginning of each chapter, and then the reader goes on to look at the photos without being distracted by the text. I think that this is something I would like to do in my own photo book. However I would probably place captions underneath each photograph.

IN SOCCER WONDERLAND by Julian Jermain (1994)

This book is very different to the other two that I have analysed. It has been laid out like a scrapbook. The blurb describes it by saying “Germain has combined his twin passions, football and photography. Archival press pictures, family snapshots, ephemera, his own colour images and interviews with devoted supporters and football crazy kids, are beautifully interwoven to create In Soccer Wonderland.”

The pages differ wildly, with some showing only one photograph, full bleed and others showing a collection of photographs, graphics and text. I think that the style works well as a reflection of a young boy’s football obsession, the pages and photographs are bright and colourful in a way that would appeal to a child, despite the fact this book is aimed at adults. It provides a sense of nostalgia. On quite a few of the pages there are photographs that take up most of the space, and then what I am assuming are football kit strips covering the rest. I think this is an interesting link to make between the photograph and the football the team the subject are supporting. I would usually prefer for any negative space to be left blank, but in this case I think that this choice of layout is very effective.

I don’t think that it is a style I would want to recreate in my own book because I don’t think the bright colours would work well with my theme, which follows a brown/pastel colour scheme. However I do think it has encourage me to play around with the use of colour in the text and negative space.


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