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The Photographic Book

Posted in PHOT 162 by Paul Turounet on March 24, 2008


© Alec Soth, Sleeping By The Mississippi, self-published spiral-bound and hardback book dummies; first edition (middle) and second edition (right) bound hardback published by Steidl, 2004


© Edward Ruscha, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, 1966, paperback with accordion foldout pages (top); Paolo Gasparini, Megalopolis: Los Angeles, Mexico, Sao Paolo, 2000, spiral-bound hardback (bottom left); and Lee Friedlander, The American Monument, 1976, hardback bound by screw posts (bottom right)


The process of book-making goes through many steps. At first, we’ll work on the floor, laying out the photographs and pairing them to make sequences. Then we’ll put our layouts into the computer. From that, we’ll make a small “thumbnail” – a miniature – of the book. It’s like a bird’s-eye view. And that, to me, is great because it’s like you’re an architect and you’re looking at a floor plan. At this point, you can refine your sequences.

The democracy of photography really lends itself to the book. With photography, the printing process really works well. Books can be better than exhibitions, because you don’t have glass between you and the photo. You can be very intimate with the image.

Yolanda Cuomo, from the interview The Photo Book published in The Education of a Photographer. Cuomo has designed books for such photographers as Diane Arbus, Bruce Gilden, and Gilles Peress



Design and produce a photo book with a minimum of 15 photographs that can be understood not only in terms of the sequence, but can be grasped as a whole, all at once, as a single complex work. In addition to making contact sheets and/or edited contact sheets, you’ll need to use the The Photographic Book | Planning Worksheet to guide you in your planning and execution of the book as well as prepare sample page layouts and a maquette to work out production considerations.

In terms of the production of the book, use one of the following on-demand printing services, a local bindery service or a handmade binding structures, including stab-binding, spiral-binding, and screw post binding.  Other considerations will include book size, cover material (image | dustjacket), as well as whether it will be soft or hardbound.


On-demand Printing Services

It will be necessary to complete the The Photographic Book Maquette assignment.  Be sure to prepare and set-up your files per each printers technical specifications.

SharedInk – Photographer Program (sign up for free 90-day trial membership)



A & I Books

Apple iPhoto Books

Paper Chase Printing


Local Book Bindery Services

Golden Rule Bindery


Give particular attention to the following:

  • Edit and sequencing of work in the book. Avoid duplication of similar types of imagery unless it is a function of your conceptual concern.
  • Refined sense of technical craftsmanship with photographic images, including correct image density and contrast, color balance and image finishing (retouching).
  • Material choices and the handling of materials with book production, particularly with handmade binding structures, including a refined sense of craftsmanship with book cover and page block production, and proofing prior to binding.

The photographic book is also required to include the following:

  • Title and name of author
  • Introduction and/or afterword
  • Copyright Information as follows:

© Author Name, Year

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author.

  • Image Titles or Captions (optional)
  • Colophon, which is a brief description usually located at the end of a book, describing production notes relevant to the edition. The colophon includes such details as type of paper/materials used, typeface used, printing and binding technique, as well as copyright and edition information. (optional)



Prior to the final presentation, it will be beneficial and/or required to complete the following:


For the Final Project presentation, please present the following:

A Photographic Book that is printed and bound with the following:

  • minimum of fifteen (15) finished photographic images included that reflect focused attention on a conceptual concern/interest/curiosity through your photographic vision and sense of technical execution and craftsmanship.
  • Book title and name of author, introduction and/or afterward, copyright information, image titles/captions (optional) and colophon (optional).


See Course Calender for due date.

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