Photographers’ Sketchbooks

23 - Stephen McLaren and Brian Formhals - Photgraphers' Sketchbooks

The Photographers’ Sketchbook by McLaren and Formhals (2014) brings together in one volume the work of 49 photographers. Each photographer describes their work and in particular the specific project that has been included.

I found the book interesting because it highlights the thought processes behind the work of experience photographers and how they decided to do the projects that have been included. Some of the projects have seen the light of day while other projects were either aborted, put on hold or are still works in progress.

The variety of work included also shows that anything is possible as a theme.

Some of the projects I think also show that photographers have to have a level of confidence, especially when dealing with people.

The Photographers’ Sketchbook is something that having read it through completely, I will dip into in order to draw inspiration from the work of professional and experience photographers when my own work touches upon theirs.

For someone who is only just getting into the theory behind photography and starting to look at the work of other photographers this book is a great way to get to know a number of them.

The only negative I have with regards to the book is that after not a huge amount of time and handling the cover and binding seem a bit flimsy. It wouldn’t take a lot more handling before the pages came loose from the cover. Something I wouldn’t have expected from a book with a similar price tag.


  1. McLaren, S & Formhals, B. (2014) Photographers’ Sketchbook. 1st edn. United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson.

In Sickness and in Health

As part of the feedback on assignment 1 – Square Mile it was suggested that I look at some of the work by Colin Gray, particularly his In Sickness and in Health project. After searching online for the work I found a book on Amazon [Reference 1] which I ordered.

The book has a plain hessian style cover with the authors name about the books title (all in capital letters). Very simple, very much in keeping with the contents of the book and it’s subject matter.

The photographs on the pages inside the book are all square format, which is related to the Hasselblad camera that Gray borrowed whenever he went back to Hull from time to time after moving to London when he was young.

The photos within the book are part of a series called Parents that Gray has produced over the years by photographing his Mum and Dad. In Sickness and in Health is a series of photographs taking while his Mum was dying.

None of the photographs in the book have captions. Each page has a single photograph which the reader is left to ponder. Some of the images are self-explanatory at a surface level while others leave you wondering why the photographs were taken, and what they are trying to get across to the reader.

Some images are almost candid snapshots, while others have been taken or edited in such a way that faces are blurred or interesting textures overlay the subject.

The book is very sombre but shows the love that existed between Gray’s parents, the tiredness that comes from looking after someone with a long term illness as well as the loneliness that comes from losing someone who you are so close to.


  1. Gray, Colin. In Sickness and In Health. Published by Steidl Mack 2010. ISBN 978-3-86521-940-4.