The Photobook in the 21st Century: The Rise of Design

with Christopher Johnson

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Course Description

The 20th century presented innovative ways to publish photobooks that feature darkroom photography and images reproduced from negatives. But the rise—and perseverance—of digital photography in the 21st century meant that new principles were needed. The result? Photobooks produced not by photographers but by designers. Trails were blazed and new standards set by innovative book designers such as Hans Gremmen, Ania Nałęcka-Milach, and SYB, among many others.

In this workshop Christopher Johnson discusses why, exactly, design is all-important—and why it’s crucial, when creating your own photobook, to work with a dextrous designer possessing knowledge specific to the field. He discusses a handful of award-winning books, investigating the qualities that make them timeless, not only in discourse specific to photobooks but in that of literature as a whole.

Are good images enough? Does text add to or distract from a photobook? Why are fonts important? How does a successful book flow? In answering these questions, Christopher leads participants through crucial design principles, some age-old, some unique to our time. Finally, drawing on his vast experience with reflexive dialogue, he concludes the workshop with a Q&A.

In a world populated by an ever-increasing number of publications, it’s design that makes a photobook truly stand out. Join Christopher and discover the principles needed to achieve exactly that.

Additional Information

All are welcome

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© Tommy Geanakos
Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is the manager of the Santa Fe’s photo-eye  Bookstore, where he personally selects the 22-24 books a week that the shop promotes through its daily newsletters. Christopher has been in the book trade for more than 16 years and has written about photobooks since 2011. Since 2016 he has lectured on the topic of the photobook in university and alternative educational formats; he also provides photobook oversight to a variety of museums and libraries throughout the United States. The author of the poetry book &luckier, Christopher co-authored the storyline for the Santa Fe Meow Wolf exhibition “The House of Eternal Return.”


Instagram: @photoeyebooks

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