Along with Exhibitions and developing a model of 1-2-1 coaching I intend to produce a book as a celebration of my work on the MA.  Although, I produced a couple of books in Surfaces and Strategies I feel I have a lot to learn in designing, producing and delivering a book I can be proud of.

Twenty Zebra Crossings – Alison Price, June 2018

The Road to Elgol – Alison Price, July 2018

I was not able to join the live version of Victoria Forrest’s Guest Lecture but I have since listened to it and found it informative and interesting, if a little daunting

Victoria is based in Bristol and has worked with artists such as Antony Gormley and photographers such as Martin Parr. Her lecture was very practical and she talked us through the stages and decisions we will need to make in moving forward to production. Her key questions and tips for us were as follows:

What is the book for?

 A simple question but the answer needs thinking about. Is it a stand-alone portfolio piece, a document to accompany an exhibition or a promotional piece for clients?

 Plan your message for the book

 Be concise, make sure there is only one message and keep it simple. Easy to say but more difficult to execute! Very important message was not to confuse people. “Every page should work hard.”

 Edit your content

 Victoria suggested this was the hardest part and I tend to agree. The most difficult part of producing my portfolios for the MA has been choosing what images should be included and why. Do we want to include archive images, old photographs? What titles, texts and captions do you need? And don’t forget to include contacts details!

Victoria suggested that we lay out our images on the floor to consider ordering and flow. I have previously laid out images on a large table to achieve the same thing.

Image editing and curating process – Screen shot from Victoria Forrest Guest Lecture

 Choose your page size

The size of the book will be defined by a number of things including the photographic ratio of the images, the type of binding, the need for a 3mm bleed (very important) and whether copies of the book will need to be posted.

 Choose your binding

Similarly, there are decisions to be made about binding. Will the publication be loose leaf (such as a newspaper format) a folded bind, saddle stitched,” Singer” sewn or Coptic sewn?

 How will the book be printed?

The choice of paper will be very important and needs to suit the images. Gloss paper can sometimes looks cheap but, on the other hand, an uncoated paper will render the images less sharp and provide less contrast because the ink sinks into the paper.


I think the overall message was that on the one hand books can kickstart careers but on the other can be a minefield for those not able to produce print-ready files. For me, the learning point was that all parts of the process, the design, practical decisions about paper and binding and the print quality all have a significant bearing on the final outcome.

Looking at Victoria’s website I picked out a few screen shots of books I found interesting:

Victoria Forrest design of The World from My Front Porch by Larry Towell

I picked this design out as I was interested in the use of old photographs and the way the cover and pages resembled an old photograph album.  I also liked the rendering of the black and white images.

Victoria Forrest design – Further Lane by Zak Power

Victoria Forrest design – Further Lane by Zak Power

I love the cover of this book.  It makes a statement but is also very classy and professional.  I was also interested that the photographer had incorporated black and white and colour images on the same pages.

Needless to say, I also liked the Remote Scottish Postboxes for Martin Parr:

Victoria Forrest design – Remote Scottish Postboxes by Martin Parr

So, lots to think about.   My head is spinning with ideas and approaches for my book.

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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