Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sign language

Right the photo in 'Signs' and the original.

Right  the photo in 'Signs' and the original.

You can see from the top right original photo how severely the poster has been cropped.
I've had the book for some years and every time I look through it I think it should have looked much better. There two problems:
1 The photos are treated as if they were ordinary graphic images so the designer, to create visual interest, has made them different sizes, butted some together into the spine, used black pages with the photos centered, run some off the edges of the page.
2 Perhaps more serious is the small type Technical Note on page ix (I can't think of any reason to use roman numerals for the first nine pages) that says some of the photos have been slightly cropped and a few severely cropped.

The cropping of the photos seems so unnecessary, if they had all been centered on the page with reasonable margins the reader could enjoy and appreciate these wonderful photos. Rather oddly they are captioned twice, once on the relevant page and again at the back with four pages of thumbnails and brief technical details.

The fifty photos reveal Walker Evans love of letters in the environment, especially on buildings though this is a common theme among all well known American commonplace photographers. Evans seems to have searched out the most obscure bits of typography, page thirteen has a photo of some stairs with a repeated sign on each step, page fifteen is a close-up of a female pedestrian holding a newspaper under her arm with just the letters CI and part of a T visible, page thirty-nine shows the interior of a room in a house with TICKETS on a piece of board and it's hanging just above a fireplace.

A wonderful selection of photos unfortunately presented in a rather uninspiring way.

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