“Eggplant,” according to our Book of the Week, “is a somewhat egg-shaped vegetable with usually purple skin.” It is also, we are told, the Chinese equivalent to “cheese,” a word used to elicit smiles from people posing in photographs. The book, Eggplant, is a collection of shots showing photographers engaged in the familiar practice of snapping pictures of friends and family members (and sometimes themselves) in front of tourist spots.
The creative strategy employed by the book’s photographers, Alice Fitzgerland and Thomas Geoghegan, shows both the importance and the somewhat artificial nature of this universal act. Yet there’s nothing mocking in these photographs, just a subtle reminder that these shots commemorating our place “in the moment” are always, inevitably planned.
Eggplant makes innovative use of our Color Pocket book size. Instead of the book’s usual portrait format, the bookmakers rotated their text and imagery to make a book that turns the format on its head (or at least on its side). It’s truer to the picture’s original aspect ratio and it echoes a kind of traditional picture-postcard book. The richly saturated photos are augmented by crisp red text that labels each region the photographers visited.
Eggplant is travel book that calls attention to the place of the photographer between photo and subject — not as intruder but as welcome interloper. And we can easily imagine another photographer standing behind Fitzgerald and Geogehan photographing them.