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Monday, 20 June 2011


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Mike, This is where e books or digital on line books win out --no gutter and if you have a large monitor, you get that nice big 16X20 look or bigger. I still love books, but double trucks just destroy the integrity of the image. The old Josef Sudek book uses a fold over page that ends up having a crease but at least is not in a gutter.

And even the best publishers do it: I was looking at David Bailey's "Eye" and see that Steidl chose to size the square frames to match the long edge of the book, running about a quarter of the picture across the gutter onto the facing page. You can see the offending spreads on their web page, here: http://www.steidlville.com/books/974-Eye.html. Grrr.

This is why photo books on a future retina display iPad will be awesome.

Not a great fan of double truck images myself, but it can actually be done right- when the book has a "soft" spine (eg- Wonderland by Jason Eskenazi, The Silence by Gilles Peress), it greatly facilitates flattening out both sides of the book and you're therefore quite able to enjoy a rather large image (from a rather small format) almost as you would a regular print! With a stiffly spined book, you'll never get to see or appreciate the entirety of the photograph- without destroying the book.

Funny you bring this up. I went to the MFA in Boston on Saturday, and they had a feature of Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb's Cuba pictures and the pictures on the walls were nicely presented, but then looking at the museum copy of their book, the same pictures with the subject right in the gutter or falling into it. Awful.

Also it was interesting to see how much different the pictures looked printed large on a wall as compared to relatively small in a book.

It's about time that photography got out of the gutter.

Ah, Mike, you say tomato, we say .... Remaining on topic, if you attempted to use your lawnmower on a Liverpool (or any other English) yard, you'd have more than the price of 'gas' to worry about.

At least a couple of the on demand publishers of photo books have a nice solution to the problem. First Adorama came out with pages that float from a substrate (or whatever the correct term is)so that the actual photo lays flat and the two facing pages touch or almost touch - I've not seen an Adorama book in person.

Then MyPublisher came out with a similar product. The actual images are produced differently, Fuji Chrystal Archive paper for Adorama and inkjet on heavy, semi-glos stock for MyPublisher, but the binding design looks much the same.

The photo book I self published using MyPublisher, Three Days in Brooklyn, has no images across the gutter and was laid out taking in to consideration the curve into the gutter. The last few I've ordered have been in the new format, and I have to say it still makes a big difference, far more visually appealing.

I would not hesitate to go double truck with this binding. You can't expect anything of the sort in an inexpensive paperback. I do wonder when it will show up in more expensive books from the regular photo book publishers.


Let's hope if ol' Steve sells enough of those Limited Editions that he can finally afford to pay his assistants- instead of having to "hire" unpaid interns. I've long learned to separate the artist from his art, but there are some things that are still... inexcusable. And if Mr. McCurry is innocent of any exploitation (which I had really hoped was the case), he has had more than ample opportunity to not only set the record straight- but to set the example!


Don McCullen's In England suffers some of the same fate only this book is much bigger. There simply was no need to do it, the majority of the horizontals are on a single page, the ones that run in to the gutter are unnecessarily large, they're not pictures that need to been seen larger than the others so the choice seems arbitrary. It's the same story with his smaller book Don McCullen

It only happens once in the little gem of a book, Robert Doisneau by Taschen. The book is small (8X6) but they've shown real restraint in not trying to make the picture bigger and the books all the better for it.

I had to sell a lens to pay a bill last week so I won't be buying Steve McCurry's latest offering. I'll get by with my copy of looking east

I recently bought Jason Eskenazi's book and was disappointed to find nearly every photograph was across the fold. Still, the man has a great story and I'm happy to support him in his work.

Bleeding photos off the edge of the page and running them through the gutter is the bane of photo book publishing. Surely designers can do better. I think part of the problem is that book designers see the book in the form of nice, flat two-page spreads on layout boards, and maybe don't want to think too much about what will happen to their lovely layouts in a bound book.

I think Elliott Erwitt's Personal Best is one of the worst examples of this that I have seen. Bleeds everywhere, and a couple of pictures were rendered almost incomprehensible after being drug through the gutter. I like Erwitt's work but this book was a travesty. I meant to return it, but since I am a lazy procrastinator, it is still in a pile somewhere in the house. I don't seek it out.

What a shame that Mr. Trevor's book of excellent images was partially ruined by design. In my opinion, double-trucking is never an acceptable style of presentation in a book of photography. Never. Double-trucking an image detail as a means of introducing a new section can be very effective. But never for primary presentation.

@ Carl: I agree that I'd rather see a full electronic presentation than a d-t mash-up. But that can feature some equally nasty limitations, too.

@ Alistair: Indeed, I've seen that. It's like cropping an image, and nearly as awful to me.

I understand that this device makes a book's design -seem- more dynamic to a designer. But only to an amateur designer who's utterly blind and insensitive to what the hell s/he's designing the damn book FOR!

Don't be a cow. Just say NO! to this crap by returning d-t junk. It will stop.

As a former bookseller... Paul Trevor's comment makes me cringe. Book bindings are not meant to be treated thus, and doing so destroys them.

"Book bindings are not meant to be treated thus, and doing so destroys them."

Then one must, at least in cases like this, make a decision - is it the physical book or is it the contents that are of value?

Complaints about "destroying" the book should be directed at the designer and publisher, not the buyer who must do damage to the binding in order to view the content for which it was purchased.

Like those who collect Leicas in original, unopened boxes, using x-rays to confirm contents, those who value books for their physical form, unused condition and/or rarity, including things like uncut sheets, rather than their content, are a tiny minority, with different values and goals.

I would argue that even a photo book with a binding that has come apart is not "destroyed" if one's value in it is in the images and they may still be viewed intact. In fact, they might then be of greater value to a viewer who sticks images split by the gutter together on a new backing so that they are now whole.


Has anybody actually seen McCurry's Iconic Photographs in the flesh, err paper and could comment on the printing? Personally I find the price very reasonable. I mean you do get one of 3300 signed A2 prints plus of course the book. (If you cut the binding you could easily plaster your house with a 165 really large McCurrys. Each for a Pound per the current BD price.)

Well, I still haven't seen it, but my mail has been answered by Phaidon. And it seems we're coming full circle back to the first book in this post, in that in the McCurry also "most of the pictures are horizontals, and all the horizontal pictures are run double-truck, spread over two pages...uniformly, without regard for the content of each picture."

I actually went to the Magnum website where you can view thumbnails and a slide show of all the images. One hundred and ten out of 165 by my count are horizontals. And at Phaidon's own website there's a peek inside feature which gives you an idea how those landscape formats are played out. Plus the few portraits are placed on opposing pages, as if they ran out of paper ...

I'm afraid that kills it for me, and I'm actually rather miffed about it.

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