Eric showing the class a comparison of the Guides
Matthew looking at art
1. Have a strong compelling idea. Fresh, exciting, demanding. Not derivative or seen it all before.
2. Come up with a riveting, compelling title for the book. And do an amazon check and make sure somebody else hasn’t got there first.
3. Start with really good photographs, many more than you will finally need.
4. Including bad pictures will only drag down the good ones.
5. Don’t shoehorn in a crap picture just because it fits the idea. Nor include a great picture that doesn’t fit the idea.
6. Make a sequence that surprises, challenges and puzzles. Ask more questions than give answers.
7. When you put pictures together don’t make the reason blindingly obvious and make sure the sum of the parts is not less than the impact of the individual photographs.
8. Try and sequence the book based on a conceptual flow not purely visually. A sequence made visually is generally too obvious not to mention dull and boring.
9. Don’t have more pictures than necessary. A book of around 50 or so pictures will work best. Less is often more.
10. Give the pictures room to breath with plenty of white space.
11. Consider the rhythm and flow of the work. Sequencing photographs is like composing music.
12. Think about what makes a great artwork and make sure what’s been done measures up to that. Does the work have a sense of mystery, a veiled narrative and a reason for the reader to want to come back (and back) to consider the work?
13. Don’t over-design the bookwork. The book is for the photographs not as a showcase for clever design. In fact avoid “clever” completely.
14. Make sure the work has a feeling of authenticity about it. Avoid the contrived.
15. Make the edit and the sequence and then do it again, and again, because it can always be done better. Always.
16. When you have something you really think works make a book dummy which is a close as possible to the final book. This will give you a sense of the outcome of the work on both a visual and tactile level.
17. Finally, remember there are no rules. And even if you think there are, set out to break them.
Barbara W. Tuchman (American Historian)