Stuart Smith: How Not to Design a Photobook

Saturday and Sunday, September 17–18, 2016
11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., both days

Aperture Foundation
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York, N.Y.

Stuart Smith led a two-day workshop at Aperture Foundation, working with photographers who were preparing to transition their images into book form.

The workshop focused on the editing and sequencing process that is essential to designing a photobook. On the first day, Smith gave a lecture about his career as a book designer and publisher. Smith discussed his practice, his design projects, and the clients he has worked with, including Elliott Erwitt, Paul Graham, Martin Parr, and James Nachtwey. While recounting personal experiences, Smith discussed conceptual issues and pitfalls that can be encountered during the publishing and design process.

Participants were asked to bring in physical prints of photographs that they’ve made or are currently working on. Both days were spent reviewing, editing, and sequencing participants’ photographs. Working efficiently and with a keen eye, Smith reviewed each series and explained his editing process, setting aside photographs that didn’t work within the sequence and noting the importance of having strong images that create a cohesive concept. Works of sixty or more photographs were sequenced and edited down, leaving participants with a tight edit of their best images. Smith led the group’s discussion based on specific interests and addressed universal problems every photographer faces while designing and producing a photobook.
On the second day of the workshop, Smith invited photographer Elliott Erwitt to discuss projects they have worked on together. Erwitt reviewed participants’ work and joined the group for lunch. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to reviewing work and having an open discussion about participants’ favorite photobooks, including Eleanor by Harry Callahan, Immediate Family by Sally Mann, Lago by Ron Jude, and—Smith’s personal favorite—Ray’s a Laugh by Richard Billingham. The workshop was led with great discussions and lots of laughs.

Stuart Smith has been designing since 1987, specializing in typography whilst gaining an excellent reputation for his distinctive book designs. Stuart started at the Architectural Association and then moved to Phaidon Press, before going on to establish SMITH in 1994, which offers services ranging from art direction and art/photography commissions to photographic editing and advertising, book, and exhibition design, among many other services. Smith is also the co-founder of GOST Books, a photography and visual arts publisher based in London.

 

Contact education@aperture.org with any questions.

Sign up for Aperture's weekly newsletter: