Fahrenheit 451 was an incredible book to read. It was inspiring.
I found it extremely interesting learning about the author, Ray Bradbury. He passed away in his ninety’s in 2012. He was still engaged in promoting public libraries. I found him inspirational and a role model for anyone who thinks growing old means growing stale.
I started this assignment in October. I read the book and started to formulate possible scenarios for the book cover. I took shots of a printing press in Hong Kong. It was equipped with big old machines, was situated outdoors and it printed local newspapers. I found it fascinating. In the final draft these photos did not make it into the cover but they remain some of my favourites. I experienced a gap in my work but even when I wasn’t shooting I continued to have the book cover in the back of my mind.
In January I researched book cover templates and proceeded to use Adobe Illustrator to design my own formate.
I like my design. I’m not sure that I would really choose it as the best book cover but I think the photographs are fitting.
Technical aspects of project
All photographs for this project were shot in raw with a Nikon 800 set to manual. The photograph of the person reading a book with flame as a background was a self portrait done using a tripod and time exposure. All others photos were taken hand held. Adjustments to the majority of the photographs were minimal mainly correcting exposure, doing some cropping and fine-tuning the contrast. The photo of the no parking sign was manipulated using Photoshop. I left this photograph somewhat ragged because I liked the effect.
Initially I researched templates for a book cover but quickly realized that I wanted more freedom than was accessible employing this method. Subsequently just calculated dimensions of a dust cover including front and back flaps and a spine (appropriate for a 100-150pg book) based on measuring various book covers I found in my own library. I was able to do a layout on Adobe Illustrator with which I have had some experience. In Illustrator I used the setting for a print layout/ custom size / 300 resolution. Book cover will be for a book 5.5” x 8”
Why I decided on this set of photographs
I wanted to use photographs that reflect the theme of the novel.
At one point in the book Montag discusses with Professor Faber the idea of reprinting some of the old books, most notably The Bible. As I mentioned above I became fascinated by an old printing press still in operation in an exposed shop house in Sheung Wan Hong Kong. The fact that the press was so open to the public inspired me to reflect on the many freedoms that I enjoy and in this case of course the freedom of expression. Initially planned to include one of these photographs but eventually realized that printing was not a crucial theme to the book and that in fact these images did not really enhance the cover. Consequently I forced myself to abandon it the idea. Instead I chose to use photographs that included flame and books and reading, those being the essential themes.
I used the No Parking sign because it is a universal symbol, which I think conveys prohibition.
Colour and design
The colours that I chose to emphasize in the book cover are black and yellow. Black because the theme of the book is foreboding and yellow because that is the colour of fire.
With respect to design I kept in mind that this is a photography project and not a graphic design assignment.
I feel that the most significant design decision I made was to spread the one photograph across the front and back covers.
I prefer simplicity – thus the front flap is designed with just a single flame.
The back flap consists of just one photograph. I could have included more text but once again I thought about this being a photography assignment and I really liked the photo of the book burning. I believe that text can be strong but sometimes not necessarily powerful. I chose to use a photograph instead of text.
I chose text font that I thought was clear and stood out. The text is in yellow to represent fire and is on black backgrounds which speaks of foreboding.
The text itself was definitely more significant. The quote that I included under the title was, for me, the most significant text of the whole book. I listened to the book (read by the author) when I was walking and read it when I was sitting still. I heard this quote while I was walking in Hong Kong and I stopped and rewound the book a number of times so I could hear it over and over again. I was struck by it profundity. I thought that it summed up the whole book.
Posing the questions about the worth of freedom to read was written to provoke thoughts about freedom. I am not American but I am very aware of the talk about gun control versus the second amendment “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”. Thus my question of “ would you commit murder to defend it (the freedom to read)?” I included the fact that some people chose to be burned with their books to emphasize the significance of these questions.