The success of a photo book is subjective but at the Australia & New Zealand Photobook Awards the guiding principle is the “fitness for purpose and audience” for every element of the work: the photography, the design, layout, sequencing, text, typography, cover and format. An engaging visual narrative and originality of the concept and design are also vital.
Sybren Kuiper is a contemporary Dutch graphic designer who specialises in narrating stories through images and text. His ten rules below are written from the perspective of a graphic designer when working with a photographer on a photobook project.
#1. Never forget the basics: a photo book has two defining qualities: 1. it is a book; 2. it is full of photographs.
#2. When you start designing don’t listen to the photographer. Listen to the photos, then to the photographer.
Great layout and page design is not intuitive, a fact that has been proven by thousands of books that have passed through Momento’s print facility. We see many good designs but many would also benefit from using a few design fundamentals.
While photographers are more visually literate than most, the ability to compose within the frame of a photograph doesn’t always translate to composition within the frame of a double page spread, but if you want to create the most effective photo book, good design is critical. Depending on the purpose and budget for your book you can choose to design it yourself, or seek assistance from a professional. In either case, the design should always be driven by the purpose and intention of your book.
Kudos to Peter Eastway for creating two of the five finalist books in the 2018 AIPP Australian Professional Photography Book Award, but it was his inkjet printed limited edition, Middlehurst | Middle Earth that earned a Gold Distinction and the crown. The judge’s felt it was “an absolute standout … a work of art … a real masterpiece.” We agree that it was the complete package, with exceptional photography, a simple sophisticated design and production values that did the photographs justice. Read on to learn more about what the judges thought, and how to put together an award-winning photo book from the master himself.