Sunday, 15 March 2015

Great images in a loopy design

The book's designer kept in the two tabs that are at one end of plate film.

Three other photo books that look at Chicago over recent years.
The forty photos in the book are close-ups of buildings, old and new, in the Chicago Loop.  Actually they could have been taken in any large American city because the reveal close-up sections of structures rather than the views from sidewalk and up.  Barbara Crane took these to capture the texture and tones and using a long lens to compress brickwork and steel and as such I though they worked beautifully.  The tight cropping (which removes the sky) and mostly straight on shots really deliver some remarkable patterns of vertical walls, windows, fire-escapes and shadows.

It's unfortunate that despite an excellent print job by Meridian (probably America's best art book printers) and using a three hundred screen I thought the book was hopelessly over designed.  The problem is that the photos (6.75 by 4.75 inches) are centred on large black pages which overpower the images so that their quality is dramatically reduced.  If the photos were kept at the same size but on a much smaller page the book would have been excellent.  There is also a bit of designer whimsy with each photo retaining the small tabs that come at the top of plate adds nothing to the appreciation of the photos in my view.

It's a shame that the design spoils great work.  Another fine book of images from the LaSalle Bank Photo Collection published in 2004 looks at the buildings and people of Chicago over several decades and didn't have the design annoyances of Crane's book but rather oddly didn't include one of her photos. 

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