From early examples of books by Edward Steichen, to publications by Alec Soth and Tierney Gearon, photobooks for children are not a new phenomenon. Last year, The British Journal of Photography featured a report on a new wave of childrens’ books. It identified that, although children are engaging with the language of photography at an increasingly young age, it may be a difficult medium to use for the making of childrens’ books, as such publications encourage young readers to use their imaginations to build stories, and photography cannot escape its indexical or direct link to the world of fact. With this in mind, it is clear photography needs to be employed by childrens’ book makers in engaging and creative ways, teaching children not just to look at images but how to read them too, be them factual or fictional. Enter Jason Fulford.
His typically playful approach to image-making has seen him create books that are puzzles; books that play with word association and books that invite us to solve visual conundrums. In This Equals That – his new book for children made in collaboration with graphic designer Tamara Shopsin and published by Aperture Foundation – he works with a similar formula. The clever pairing of images build a small encyclopaedia of visual associations and equations, and encourage readers to think about number, shape and colour and the lovely ways in which fragments of the world mirror each other and slot together. Though made as a childrens’ book, This Equals That is a puzzle that we can take pleasure in solving at any age, as we consider how the colours of flowers reflect those in stained glass windows, or the curve of an orange relates to a small hole in the sand.
– Joanna Cresswell
This Equals That is available in The Photographers’ Gallery Bookshop, priced at £12.95.
© Jason Fulford, 2014