In a two-day weekend workshop at Aperture Foundation, GOST cofounder Stuart Smith taught ten students about the art of making photobooks from his over three decades of experience. “I tell everyone I’m a failed photographer,” Smith joked. From that failed career as a photographer, however, he has constructed a successful one designing photobooks, working first at Phaidon before founding his own companies SMITH and GOST. On the first day of the workshop, Smith gave a thorough lecture about his career in the photobook world, speaking about his favorite titles and what makes them work. Smith divided the rest of the workshop into hour-long individual sessions, in which the class looked on as he worked with each participant’s photographs, giving advice and aiding in sequencing and design. Smith stressed the importance of coherence and consistency when conceptualizing and carrying out a book project, as well as the importance of unexpected material that can be found in the “b-roll,” or the first round of photos that are removed when editing.
On Sunday, Aperture Executive Director Chris Boot joined the workshop for lunch, explaining his own history and perspective on the process of bookmaking. Boot warned against participants shaping their visions to meet market demand, instead encouraging them to “make the best book you can make.” Smith, similarly, highlighted the individuality of each participant’s vision, acknowledging that sometimes the work of bookmaking is intuitive: “It’s when we do it without really trying to do it that it works.”
“For those who are trying to get further in the development of a coherent set of photographic images and can see a photobook as a good vehicle for that, this workshop with Mr. Smith’s particular different set of eyes can be invaluable.”
“Stuffed with great information and multiple items to consider when planning a photo project and a photo book.”
“The hours were rich with Mr. Smith’s consistently energetic review, criticism, and advice, over a range of di erent work.”
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.