PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK DESIGNER STUART SMITH

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Stuart Smith has designed photobooks for Elliott Erwitt, Martin Parr and Mark Power, among others. He spills the beans on the photobook design process – and shares some advice for photographers thinking of having a go themselves…

When photographers approach you to design a book, do they usually have a clear idea of what they want? 
It depends. They sort of do but often the goal posts change. They think they know and then we talk about it and find it’s roughly where they want to go but we end up going a different way about it.

What’s the most difficult part of the process? 
Convincing them that I know better.

And how do you do that? 
It just takes time and trust. We’ll have two or three meetings until they get it. And if they don’t get it, we don’t do the book because we don’t get on.

What are the most common mistakes you encounter from photographers?
First of all, it’s too big in size: they think it’s got to be big because their ego’s big. The second problem is it’s too big in content: they don’t edit or they can’t help but put more pictures in. The third problem is probably the order of the pictures, the fourth would be the actual pictures, the fifth would be the title, the sixth would be the positioning of the pictures on the page – they try to do something a bit special or a bit different.


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