Imagining Books

Edward with Chris Cheung, working up layouts for Hedda Morrison’s Hong Kong.


Edward Stokes’ Australian books, reflecting his mindset with photos and words blended together, were all based on ‘double page spreads’ – having photos facing related texts.

Reviewers’ comments regarding integrating photos and texts reinforced Edward’s view that the ‘sum was greater than the parts’: the images and stories affecting readers, or perhaps viewers, in different ways. In fact, two of his Australian exploration books had their releases delayed for many years as no commercial publisher would countenance the production budgets that these books required, since they needed more expensive colour printing throughout the body of each book. Ed maintained his commitment to the books’ intrinsic, content-driven ‘double page spreads’. Finally, assisted by print subsidy funding from Hong Kong, these Australian books were published. (This long drawn-out saga was another factor behind Ed’s resolve to establish an independent publishing organization.)

Similar layout concepts, with photos and text working together to create integrated stories, appear in most of the Hong Kong Conservation Photography Foundation’s books – and now in publications by The Photographic Heritage Foundation. Reviewers still note the benefit of both photos and texts being combined. Into this template, variation is brought from photo editing that seeks images which stand out on their own; yet which also contribute to a body of images that, through an entire book, present a coherent story.