Art and Design
The book Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs abounds with photos taken by the famous eponymous photographer Cameron. First, she was engaged in the photography only at the age of thirty eight but she gained popularity immediately, and over the next 14 years, Julia continued her favorite hobby shooting not only interesting but also the well-known people such as Virginia Woolf.
The publisher "Getty Publications" assembles all the works of Julia (1329 photos) known at the moment. The book is designed in Victorian style alluding to the period of life and work of the artist. The cover of the book contains only a title and personal author's photo of the girl-angel. Such a style resembles Victorian postcards common in the mid-nineteenth century. Furthermore, all photos are not subjected to the modern events and presented in the sepia. The same applies to the color and the design of the book. For example, the introductory statement is designed using the purplish brown background with the white letters on it.
The book includes the works of the author as well as her diary entries, travel notes, and letters to her husband, legendary Colin Ford. Undoubtedly, the first 95 pages devoted to the biography of the artist with a detailed description of her career path, traveling to India, and explorations of the influential people of that time. This section is interspersed only with several photos opening each new chapter. They occupy an entire page creating the impression of the scope.
The photo's catalog starts only upon the 95th page. It is divided into eight sections: Beginnings, Religion, Women, Men, Children, Illustrations, Idylls, and Ceylon. Each of them contains minor reproductions, slightly exceeding the size of a conventional school album photo.
For example, the photo titled "Tea picking" (Cox, Cameron & Ford 78) clearly illustrates the period of Ceylon and all the creativity of the photographer. Approximate portrait photography allows you to see details of the heroine face, and sepia color does not distract the attention from the Asian bright color clothes. In addition, the clear layout of the text under the photo is not out of the general style. Generally, the book gives the impression of something valuable and expensive due to its design, and also completely justifies its content. The small fonts of signatures and the round shapes of the photo frames create a nice visual impression. They make more round not only the works but the pages themselves, soothing the rough edges. Nevertheless, their design is rigorous and influential.
The book Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War is a very personal and subjective military sketching of the photographer Alexander Gardner. He was one of the first war photographers whose works everyone knew. The collection of photographs does not look like an ordinary book as it resembles a catalog of some gallery or an exhibition center.
The sketchbook has a horizontal position and is a classic example of a diary. During the Civil War, Alexander Gardner was the only well-known photographer who was taking the chemicals with him to develop the film directly on the battlefield making his works truly unique and alive. The cover of the book represents the black-and-white photograph of a field where the multiple bodies of the soldiers lie on the ground.
The font and size of the book title convey a clear message of what the reader's eyes should focus on - the Civil War (the size of the letters was increased fourfold). Regarding the name of the author, the size of the font was doubled. Inside part of the sketchbook does not differ from the classic design. It contains photography with its description. However, all additional stories about the places of actions or a particular person which are presented ahead the photo series help to penetrate deeply into each picture. Most photos consume more than a half of the page, just some of them consume a third. This solution allows to see all details of the image precisely.
The sequence of pictures corresponds to the harmonious order of the story and the time intervals of the Civil War. The chronology is not broken. For instance, the photo titled "Battlefield" (Gardner 93) takes the viewer directly to the past era. It is achieved due to the significant visual law which some artists, who do not have a lot of equipment, have used unknowingly. The technique sounds like "minimum resources - maximum expression." The photo depicts the five men who have remained lying on a field various poses. A similar image makes the audience think about the disastrous capacity of a person and the way emotions can transform into a physical concrete embodiment. Minimum resources were also used in the legend for the picture provoking the viewers’ imagination and reflection. In addition, the designers deliberately chose a strict and restrained fonts typically used in army and military inscriptions.
The concept of "handcrafted" work pursues the reader all the time while he is holding a book in his hands. It means only that the ideological orientation of the book-sketch works very successfully. The whole design of the book is saturated due to absolute anti-geometrism. The designers did not use any specific forms to show the most natural landscapes and forms.
The book How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York by Jacob A. Riis is a journalistic investigation on the language of a photo. It contains countless images of New York slums after the Civil War. This book seems to be an ode to the life of all those who lived in an environment impossible for living. The hard cover is a reprint of the original edition of 1890, but the new one belongs to the work of the modern designers in 1989. It is almost a hundred-years difference. The photo, posted on the cover, clearly illustrates the standards of living in the slums. Three boys are sleeping sweet in the street, surrounded by casks, stones, and debris.
Despite the fact that the book is marketed as an object of photo-journalism, it contains a huge amount of text supporting the fact that Jacob A. Riis is a reporter. Additional stories accompany each photo revealing the details of shooting and some personal data of characters.
The book design does not resort to complicated or severe forms as the staged photos are absent. Despite the documentary aspect of the book, it certainly can be perceived as an art album. The letters have serifs while the pages are strictly numbered. Moreover, vertical and horizontal lines are met, oblique lines are missing. Generally, integrity and composition are the main advantages of this edition.
Such "cold" and "wet" design can be noticed in all the works of this edition. For instance, the photo "Prayer Time in the Nursery; Five Points House of Industry" (Riis 23), taken in 1888, is one of the most penetrating in this series. Children of the shelter are standing on their knees in a cold room and pray. They are dressed in light sleeping clothes. The image performs its original function capturing the facts. Furthermore, the designers have used an embossed effect, so that the paper pages look as if they had just been doused with fresh cement solution.