Today I ventured out to East London and the famous Brick Lane in Shoreditch; surrounded by colour, vibrancy and creativity I came across “Brick Lane Book Shop” and felt compelled to go in. The quaint shop was busting with variety (of customers as well as books!) from Wandsworth’s classics, to learning mandarin, to a whole section solely on London and the east end. It was here that I came across one of my favourite series of photo books to date- East London Photo Stories published by Hoxton Mini Press.
The first book I picked up was “I’VE LIVED IN EAST LONDON FOR 86 ½ YEARS (PHOTO BOOK 1)” which documents local resident (sadly now passed away) Joe. Whilst the content of the book is undeniably wonderful, pulling on heart strings in all the right places with fountains of humour throughout, a moment is deserved to comment on the layout of the book. Never have a felt more connected to a photo book on a first viewing than this one. Turning the pages and reading the words together with the visual stimulations was an overall experience- it truly felt magical. I went on a journey with Joe and even shed a tear to learn of his passing less than a year ago. The matt pages felt strong like the character being depicted to us and the textured spine underneath the wrapped cover brought thoughts of blanket safety and warmth to mind, again a key element to the story within. If I could produce a book for this module with this much meaning before anyone even opens the pages then I’d be happy! It truly was a delight to behold.
EAST LONDON SWIMMERS (PHOTO BOOK 2) is the second book in the series and very clever. A simple idea made beautiful. Portraits and personal profiles of individuals are shown clothed and then again on the next page in their swimming gear. This layout continues until the odd double page spread of an extremely aesthetically pleasing and majestic photo catches the viewer off guard with its movement yet calm stillness. Early morning sun glinting off displaced water drops fogs our minds are we envisage ourselves in the serenity of the scene before us, allowing the photo to wash over us and in this crazy world allow ourselves a moments pause. This charming book highlights the simple pleasures of life and of the beauty within our own world, closer to home than some may believe.
A PORTRAIT OF HACKNEY (PHOTO BOOK 3) is third (and what I thought to be) final book of the series. Out of the three this has arguably the most conventional style of layout that I am familiar seeing in photo books. This does not take away however from the brilliancy of the images within, it is almost harder without an original layout to shock or compel the viewer than that of a book with something completely new to offer yet A PORTRAIT OF HACKNEY has done just this. My perceptions of hackney (coming from Devon in south west England) have been blown away by the raw honesty and delight this book provides. Some truly breath taking photos that I would never have thought to be captured in east London have ensnared by attention and respect. It was the grand finale to the end of my viewing.
Individually they are great books but together as a three they are hard to beat- together as a cooperative they bring out the best in each other and visually look fantastic together also. The layouts compliment each other and the symmetry between the designs (introductions, font type, block colours used on inside cover pages, sizes, paper type etc) makes it a truly credible and remarkable body of work that shall have prime place on my book shelf. Since searching online I have learnt that there is a fourth book to the series so I have ordered that from Hoxton Mini Press’ website.
SHOREDITCH WILD LIFE (PHOTO BOOK 4)
Seeing these books as a series has made me wonder if my ideas could work well in more than one book, if they would compliment each other as these do. I envisage 3 spins lined up together, the first starting as a pale pink and the third ending on an angry red with the middle book somewhere in between. The colours could represent the demise of the relationship as the first book (Wedding) shows the happy couple on their big day, then the second book (Marriage) shows an image taken throughout their marriage- be it children or first house etc, and then the last book (Reality) is just full of quotes people have written about their ex husband/wife. I could have sequencing numbers used to match the items within each book to their counterparts or just completely jumble the orders so no one knows who’s photo goes with which words etc
I never knew about this website (https://www.kickstarter.com) which will be a great way to fund any new projects of mine!