Resource: Wonderland Curated by Wim Melis in cooperation with Michael Botman


The borders of documentary photography – Catalogue Photofestival 1999.

I have looked at a book from the library called ‘Wonderland’ which is a curated book inclusive of lots of different photographers work. The book is of an almost square format and as a photobook from the Photofestival it incorporates images and text together to form a book of substance. The images themselves are visually very interesting, especially as they are predominately documentary, but I found the book more for research into the actual layout and how the images and text pull together.

I photographed several of the pages as I went through the book, picking out different design layouts and different considerations that had been thought about in terms of image content and how it would look upon the page. Each page has been sculpted to showcase the work in the best way possible, but also so the flow of the book is not disrupted. Here are some page examples I really liked and thought were interesting, as well las giving me ideas for the layout of my own book for this module.

Book Layout:

Front Cover :


The front cover is quite plain for a phonebook, but the more books I look at the more I realise that this seems to be a common practise in the industry, especially for books where photographs are at the top of their game. The simple coloured background with the small image sat centrally in the page with the title over the top, is quietly understated but also bold enough to capture your attention. The title is not central and is instead left aligned to the image – something I’ve not seen in titles before and something that is actually quite interesting to note. Clear emphasis has been placed on each letter as shown by the obvious gaps in the typography.

The book is almost square, a trait I thought was interesting considering I am looking at a fully square book for my hand in.

Book introduction:


The book opens with the title page of the creator of the book and a faded out page on the left where the images appear to have been dulled down. Aesthetically this works because of the nature of the image there isn’t too much going on.

The next page with pure writing on, I really love. I think it’s brilliant how the text changes colour depending on the page it is on, but still retains its fluidity. The right side being left aligned for text is unusual but rather interesting, although in some case, quite hard to read. The right aligned text backs onto this one and still works quite well and retains the structure of the book, but is of course easier to read as we are used to this text layout. The edge is less raggedy and so easier to start reading and track with our eyes. Different fonts have been considered on both pages in title and text, but all within keeping of a house style.

There is plenty of white space, even though it is primarily text heavy.

Inside book pages:


Above are two examples of different layouts within the book. One is a set of 4 images, individually spaced and spread across the centre of two pages. I think it works well, is formulaic and the images content fits and is contained by the layouts and the topics. The second layout is three images meshed together and then aligned more to the right of the page. The split between two of the images in the centre guttering of the book is aptly placed because it doesn’t cut any information out and is fitted well to the join of the two images. It’s an interesting use of a layout and combination of 3 photographs because I did originally think it was all one image. It was only upon closer inspection I realised this was not the case.


Two more layouts in the book are these two portraits, captured in a square frame and centred into the middle of both pages. The images work well and compliment each other in a weird way through their tonality but not necessarily their style. I like the use of the square format as it is different from the rectangular images we see often in books so it adds a new layer of dimension tot eh portraits being shown. A great use of layout in simple but effective way to highlight and pull the attention to the images that matter on the page. 20170403_115457.jpg

I thought this was an interesting layout as the image of the left bleeds off of the page and pans right across to the gutter. The inclusion of this image with some writing on it, makes for an interesting addition to narrative and photographic understanding. It also promotes the idea of archives and of different influences and the collaborative /participatory element.

The second image contrasts in its orientation. It’s different to the rest on this page and similarly the layout jars as does the narrative. I think this is likely to be done deliberately and if so, works very well. The contrast between the happy wedding image and the images of what looks like someones arm and a needle are two images that I wouldn’t have put together and thus work in this context very well together.


There is also colour imagery in the book, set out in an interesting manner. The stacked up images on the right page work really well because of the way they are formulaic and fit together with no overhang or uneven sizes. The addition of the portrait image of the left again works well and the blank space surrounding both is well spaced meaning the whole spread doesn’t feel too busy or crowded, despite there being 4 images on the page.


Handwritten text features at the end of the book and I personally love this. It adds a sense of the persona to the collective of images and also gives an idea of who the person was as an individual through the way they write and how what they write looks. I think it works as a different way to incorporate text that isn’t done on a computer or typed. It makes it more personal and unique in a sense.


The book has given me some good ideas for layouts and how images work together on a page. It has also inspired some of my typography and how I might cosier to use my text or understand what I could do with my text. I think in terms of the actual text and images on the same page, that this was a bit lacking, but that is part of the aesthetic of the book. Although my own layout will be different, looking at existing photobooks gives me the opportunity to understand and mould my own ideas around information I have seen and understood from my research.


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