Ben Roberts, One More Night, Self-published, Blurb 2008
This book review is one part photograph project published by Ben Roberts, One More Night, and another part an assessment of self-publishing and Blurb’s new 100 lb paper. The bottom like I like both parts! But first the London club scene of Ben Roberts.
This small, tight hardcover book with the images running off most of the edges is the club scene in London. I may not have been there recently but the overall experience of reading the book provides what might be similar emotional reactions; tight cramped spaces, a blur of activity, light when you have it and a flow of colors that assault your senses. But without the din of the music.
Roberts photographs have the “subjects” falling out of the edges and almost included as an after thought again reinforcing the visual chaos of the club life in London. Not exactly a documentary in the traditional sense but a documentary nevertheless that provides you with more of the experience that extends beyond the boundaries of both the printed page and photographs.
The photographs are well sequenced which build on each other as you proceed through the book. I find that the book has a strong Gestalt essence: where the whole is defined by the elements so that the elements are transcended by the whole. That is the holistic feeling that I am left with as I finish the read through the book. In fact rapidly fanning the book pages and getting a brief glimpse of an image as it is quickly replaced by the next is another wonderful way to experience this book.
Another design element of the book is the selection of a corresponding color margins that complement the photograph, bringing out and emphasing essential details within the photographs. As a self published book this design element is used in a consistent and effect manner. Such that the additional strongly saturated hues continues to reinforce the theme of the book. Well done!
And so to the next part of this review and the opportunity to experiment with photographs and book design when self-publishing with Blurb. When a self-published book such as this one is done with fore-thought and with an application of consistent design elements is a true delight.
One design risk that Roberts faced is the photographs running through the gutter into the facing page. A great way to deal with horizontal images in a square book but the potential of losing some of the essence of a photograph in the “gutter”, which is the area where this hardcover book is bound. This was the principal gripe that I had with the design of the recent Frank book Paris. To Roberts credit he gave himself an out with the ability to choose which side of the spread to place the full bleed image.
I feel that this book also greatly benefits from the use of the Blurb’s new 100 lb luster paper. The additional gloss factor compared to the Blurb standard 80 lb allows the colors to really POP almost to the point of appearing like the book was printed with traditional off-set printers. This provides that needed vibrancy to further convey the essence of the London club scene. The 100 lb paper also has a greater degree of opacity, or less transparency, meaning that you don’t see the images through the pages as with the Blurb 80 lb paper. nice.
Best regards, Douglas Stockdale
just to follow up on something from your review…
it’s interesting that you picked up on the issue of the gutter… when i first tried to lay the book out, i realised that I had an abundance of images that were balanced to the left of the frame, and a shortage of images that were balanced the right. (i’m left handed. not sure if this was an issue?!) – anyway, i actually had to go out and shoot about 4-5 more club nights to balance things out!! really annoying…
I shot in around 10 different venues, and in total it was around 25-30 nights shooting. I would shoot on average around 230-250 images per night (4-5 gigabytes…) – so the final edit from the book was culled from around 9000 digital photographs.
a very different experience from shooting film, but i think it was a good thing for improving my editing.
thanks for the review.
Ben, I think that the extra effort has provided you with a really good flow of images through your book. An insightful lesson on what it takes to develop a successful book. well done.
You might find this interview of relevance aswell, by Chris Norris: