MELANIE MCWHORTER: Interview with PhotoBook Designer Elizabeth Avedon

Interview with Photobook Designer Elizabeth Avedon

I first met Elizabeth Avedon when she was the Gallery Director at photo-eye. Since the time Elizabeth departed Santa Fe, she established her own blog which has become a recognized voice in the photography community featuring portfolios and interviews, including my first interview about my photography. I am delighted to turn the tables on Ms. Avedon and allow her to discuss her profession: Book, Exhibition and Web Design + Curatorial Consultant. Here she discusses the photobook, print-on-demand, and some of her favorite projects.

Melanie McWhorter: At what point is it important to involve a designer in your project?

Elizabeth Avedon: There are different stages for a designer to step in for every project. It really depends on the artist/photographer. Some photographers will start talking to me years before they actually are ready to begin the layouts, others hand me a complete, finished edit when I first meet them. I can easily begin to sequence the work for them from that, but I think it's an important step in the overall process for the designer to be involved in the edit of the work from the start, to get a feel for the point of view of the photographer. Many times the designer will see an interesting "book" the artist hadn't imagined for themselves. Other times the photographer will be overly critical in their edit, second guessing themselves and their audience, leaving out images that may show important steps in the evolution of their work. Other photographers may not be critical enough with their work, unable to edit out images because of the people, place or action going on which may not actually come across so well in the image as they think. They are still visualizing the moment, but we don't see it in the frame. It's important for everyone to have an outside eye.

MM: Are most of your clients individuals and do you consult with them one-on-one or are most publishers?

EA: I'm not really a trade book designer, although I love the work I've done for them in the past. (Favorite was An Open Heart by The Dalai Lama for Little, Brown & Co). Almost all of my clients have been individuals or at least the projects start out as someone approaching me and then suggesting to their publisher they would like to work with me. I'm mostly asked to work on special projects. I recently had lunch with the son of a late great photographer to discuss a book of his father's iconic images. Fortunately I knew his father and many of these images are part of my own history, so it could work out well for both of us. We discussed whether to bring in a publisher at this juncture or design the completed book and package it to a publisher. Other times I'll design and print a 20-page dummy for someone to shop around to publishers.

MM: What do you feel is the role of a designer in a creating a photobook?

EA: I think a designer is there to organize the work, whether through a timeline, chapters, subcategories or just by the sequencing into a narrative. The way the works flows from one image to the next, one spread to another, should intuitively guide the viewer through the photographer's world - his or her intention with their work. It's really fun to do a very creative design, with crazy fabulous typography and collage the images and show off as a designer, but that isn't going to showcase a photographer's work. I try to let the work dictate what kind of book it wants to be and stay out of the way. Let the work speak for itself. I've worked on several long-term projects that began as one kind of book and when they were completed, I could see they wanted to be an entirely different kind of book. The work needed to be organized into its first incarnation, to see it was meant to be as an entirely different kind of entity...read more here

Photographer Melanie McWhorter has managed photo-eye BookStore, the best online Photography Bookstore in the world, for over 13 years. She is a regular contributor to the photo-eye Magazine, co-founder of FiniteFoto Magazine, curator and lecturer.



Photograph (c) Craig Semetko /All Rights Reserved

Photograph (c) Craig Semetko /All Rights Reserved

Published by teNeues

Photograph (c) Craig Semetko /All Rights Reserved

"...he is the essential photographer. That is, the one who sees what others could not have seen."–Magnum Photographer Elliott Erwitt

Jan 14 – Feb 26 2011
Leica Gallery • 670 Broadway/ NYC

"None of the pictures were staged...This requires a great deal of wandering around aimlessly with an empty head–a skill many teachers told me I had a gift for–only now I carry a camera to record all the strange and beautiful things in front of me. I look for the ironies and oddities that cross cultural boundaries and are common to the human condition. I strive to show authentic moments of joy, melancholy, irony—the full spectrum of human experience. To borrow a phrase from Henri Cartier-Bresson, Photography is nothing-it’s life that interests me."– Craig Semetko


4:02 PM, J Train, from Dark Day series
Photograph (c) David S. Allee /All Rights Reserved

10:37 AM, from Dark Day series
Photograph (c) David S. Allee /All Rights Reserved

5:31 PM, from Dark Day series
Photograph (c) David S. Allee
/All Rights Reserved

David S. Allee: Dark Day
Jan 6 – Feb 19, 2011
Morgan Lehman Gallery
535 W 22 St NYC



Photographs (c) Deborah Luster/Courtesy of Twin Palms Publishers

Tooth For An Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish

Jan 6 – Feb 5, 2011
513 West 20th Street, NYC

The New Yorker
Murder In The Round by Vince Aletti

"The city of New Orleans is a topographical/ architectural/material/cultural phenomenon with a diverse population participating in raucously colorful and fascinating pursuits and rituals. Homicide is a cultural fact of the life in the city as well. In Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish (Twin Palms, 2010), Deborah Luster explores the city in a new way, creating a compelling portrait in the form of a photographic archive of contemporary and historic homicide sites. Following on from her first book, One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana (Twin Palms, 2003), Tooth for an Eye explores the themes of loss and remembrance in a series of tondo photographs that offer an opportunity for the viewer to enter deeper into the idea of the city, a place where life and death coexist, neither free of the other/s influence."–Twin Palms Publishers

NPR Interview: After Deborah Luster's mother was murdered, Luster turned to photographing prisoners...read more here

Large scale fine-art photographic printing for the exhibition created by Griffin Editions


HIN CHUA: After The Fall

from the series After The Fall
Photograph (c) Hin Chua
/All Rights Reserved

from the series After The Fall
Photograph (c) Hin Chua
/All Rights Reserved

from the series After The Fall
Photograph (c) Hin Chua
/All Rights Reserved

from the series After The Fall
Photograph (c) Hin Chua
/All Rights Reserved

"For me, these photographs explore the effects of the conflicts and collisions that are gradually and chaotically reshaping the spaces around us, played out in slow motion with unpredictable, often disturbing results. This silent hand-over, the transformation of one environment into another, may speak to something deeper within our collective memories: the alteration of places we once knew, an inexorable reminder of the inevitability of change… a farewell to personal Edens"–Hin Chua

Hin Chua


LA LETTRE: William Eggleston: For Now

Untitled, Rosa Eggleston, Memphis, Tennessee, 1971
Photograph by William Eggleston

Untitled, Walter Hopps, early 1970's
Photograph by William Eggleston

Twin Palms Publishers newly released monograph, William Eggleston: For Now, is the result of film-maker Michael Almereyda’s year-long search through the Eggleston archives, a remarkable collection of heretofore unseen images spanning four decades of work. Unusual in its concentration on family and friends, the book highlights an air of offhand intimacy, typical of Eggleston and typically surprising. Eggleston remarked “the book comes close to being a family album.”...read more

LA LETTRE: The 14th Annual Friends of Friends Photography Auction

Photograph by Herb Ritts, Karen, Los Angeles 1989
Donated by the Herb Ritts Foundation, Sold for $4,600

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Yolanda 1962
Photograph by the late James Karales, Donated by Monica Karales

Photograph by Marc Riboud, Three Chinese Girls, Beijing 1957

In his opening speech, Friends Without A Border Founder, Kenro Izu, told the Auction audience: “I asked the Dalai Lama what is the key to Peace? He said, ‘Think We, not Me or I’”.

The 14th Annual Friends of Friends Photography Auction began last Tuesday night with a cocktail reception, followed by the annual Live Auction. The audience was a broad mix of private collector’s, Gallery owners and director’s, curators and first timers. Many returning for their 14th year, know this auction is a great way to expand your Photography Collections with well known artists, while donating to the exceptional work being done at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia...read more

Friends Without A Border Foundation and The 14th Annual Friends of Friends Photography Auction Results




FlakPhoto.com & Thames & Hudson Book Give-Away

from Street Photography Now

from Street Photography Now

FlakPhoto.com + Thames & Hudson
are giving away 3 copies of Street Photography Now!

FlakPhoto continues its 2010 program by partnering with Thames & Hudson to feature work from 20 photographers included in Street Photography Now, a new collection of contemporary street photography from around the world. In support, we're giving away three copies of the book to our Facebook fans.

Submission Details:
To Enter, Browse the Flak Photo Gallery and post a link to one of your favorite photographs in the Comments at the bottom of their FlakPhoto Facebook page. Three fans will be randomly selected from the submissions to receive a copy of the book.

Call for entries closes on Sunday, December 12 at 11:59 PM CDT. Winners will be notified with a Facebook message the week of December 13, 2010.

FlakPhoto.com Facebook - facebook.com/​flakphoto

ROB HANN: The Child Is Gone

Photograph (c) Rob Hann /All Rights Reserved

Photograph (c) Rob Hann /All Rights Reserved

Artwork by Seta Morton

Photograph (c) Rob Hann /All Rights Reserved

Over the past 4 years I've made numerous visits to my girlfriend Nora's (artist Nora Chavooshian) home in the affluent and liberal town of Montclair, New Jersey, about 30 minutes from New York City. I thought about shooting a photographic portrait project with Nora's daughter, Seta, as she passed from childhood to adulthood. I wanted it to be a collaboration and suggested Seta contribute her poetry and artwork to the project.

I spent a year photographing 16 year old Seta and her friends. The result is an extended portrait of Seta, part portrait, part self-portrait. The title of the book, "The Child Gone", is taken from one of Seta's poems. –Rob Hann


SHAUN WHITE IN CHINA: Two-Time Olympic Snowboard Gold Medalist

Two-time Olympic Snowboard Gold Medalist Shaun White in Beijing. To kick-off his arrival, Burton Snowboards invited Shaun to meet some of Burton China's top Snowboarder's. Burton Snowboard distributor's from all across China, some traveling over a 1,000 miles, came to Beijing meet him. Photograph by Mary Dennis

"A forty-meter high kicker was built in the Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Beijing for Shaun White and Oakley's Air & Style snowboard competition, the largest alternative extreme sports competition ever held in China. China’s top snowboarders appeared with some of snowboards best in the world. The event was broadcast live to an estimated 50 million people." Photograph by Matthew Niederhauser

Shaun White and Burton China's William Avedon, Beijing 2010
Photograph by Mary Dennis

Shaun White and Burton Snowboarder, "Little Tiger", Beijing
Photograph by Mary Dennis

Burton dealer, Eric Wen, presenting traditional gifts to Shaun White, Beijing
Photograph by Mary Dennis

Two-time Olympic Snowboard Gold Medalist, Shaun White, arrived in China for the first major snowboard contest of the 2010/2011 season - Air & Style Beijing - presented by Oakley and Shaun White. To kick-off his arrival, Burton Snowboards invited Shaun to meet some of Burton China's top Snowboarder's and Burton Snowboard distributor's from all across China, some traveling over a 1,000 miles to meet him. Everyone brought traditional gifts from their area of the country and Shaun graciously signed T-shirts, snowboards, and skateboards for everyone.

Air & Style Beijing, is Saturday in the Olympic Sports Center Stadium, Beijing, China. The first six-star TTR event of the season, which means not only will 16 riders be competing for a $100,000 dollar prize, and the glory that comes from an Air & Style win, they'll also be competing for 1,000 TTR World Ranking points. It’s the first major throw-down of the season with Scotty Lago, Peetu, Marco Grilc, i-Pod, Mikkel, Kazu, Seb Touts, Halldor and more… No matter what happens, it won't affect the rankings for the Dew Tour Dew Cup or the Burton Global Open series because those series haven't yet started. – read more on ESPN

UPDATE: "The Air & Style Beijing Contest was an amazingly high energy event. 10,000 people, the Chinese audience was enthralled! Most had never seen snowboarders before."–William Avedon


NICK BRANDT: "On This Earth - A Shadow Falls" Published by Big Life Editions

Elephant With Exploding Dust, Amboseli, 2004
Copyright (c) Nick Brandt /All Rights Reserved

Elephants Walking Through Grass, Amboseli, 2008
Big Life Foundation update: Lead elephant killed by poachers, 2009
Copyright (c) Nick Brandt /All Rights Reserved

On This Earth - A Shadow Falls
Photographs by Nick Brandt
Big Life Editions, 2010

Lion Before Storm II- Sitting Profile, Maasai Mara, 2006
Copyright (c) Nick Brandt /All Rights Reserved

Photographer Nick Brandt founded the Big Life Foundation in September 2010, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Africa’s wildlife and ecosystems. On This Earth, A Shadow Falls, with introductions by Jane Goodall, Alice Sebold, Vicki Goldberg, Peter Singer and Nick Brandt, was recently published by Big Life Editions, 2010.

"On This Earth, A Shadow Falls combines the best photographs from Nick Brandt's previous books. It features 36 images from On This Earth and 54 from A Shadow Falls and is the only publication where images from both books will appear in one volume, on a larger scale than the previous editions.

300-line quadtone reproductions by Meridian Printing in Rhode Island, and printed under Brandt's supervision, the tonal quality of On This Earth, A Shadow Falls is exceptional. This high quality technique and attention to detail has allowed the book to succeed where the previous volumes have not. For the first time in book form, the offset reproductions closely match the rich, velvety tonality and detail of the original prints." photo-eye Books

+ + +

"Over the past seven years, Brandt has photographed most of the elephants that live in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. As a result, he has been fortunate to know these elephants and their habits intimately. Sadly, he reports the following:

July 3 2010, 7am : Amboseli Lake Bed, Amboseli National Park, Kenya.

A herd of 50 elephants are crossing the lake bed from outside the park near the Tanzanian border, making their daily journey into the swamp. Normally, these are the most relaxed of herds, quietly moving right past our vehicle without a care in the world. The terrible drought is over, food is plentiful, and the elephants are healthy.

But this morning, as soon as we get within half a mile of them, they start running in panic. So panicked that a baby gets knocked over in the rush. They're still running from us a full mile away to make it to the safety of the swamp. We've never seen anything like it in the seven years I've been photographing in Amboseli. Later, we discover that the night before, gunshots were heard from the direction the elephants came, near the Tanzanian border. Over the next two weeks, the herd never really relaxes. On subsequent days that week, the appearance of a second car - something that would normally never bother them - sends them into newly-induced panic, suggesting not one but two vehicles were hunting them.

Meanwhile, two weeks earlier, the carcass of a beautiful bull called Buster (as named by Cynthia Moss' Elephant Research Project) has been found outside the park with his tusks sawn off and taken. When I was last in Amboseli two months before that, Buster had been one of three bulls I saw with infected spear wounds in their trunks. Just in the last week of August, yet another three big bull elephants have been killed. One died from what seems to be a poisoned spike trap that poachers are increasingly using. And Winston, photographed below in July, was shot by poachers at the end of August just over the border in Tanzania. Wounded, he made it back over to Kenya, but then died and also had his tusks sawn off with a power saw by the poachers. At the present rate of deaths, there will soon be no mature bulls left in Amboseli"...read more from Nick Brandt's Big Life Foundation

Read more: Nick Brandt: Crusade of the Species, La Lettre de la Photographie, Dec 1, 2010