I’m pretty excited this week because Stuart Harrison’s lastest book, New Sub-Urban is out, and to my surprise one of my favourite, but least seen images is on the front cover. It’s what I call the “sexy legs” shot and is part of a much larger panorama of the well known Hill House by Andrew Maynard. In this post what I want to do is deconstruct the image and explain why I like it, but why it never made sense in other mediums.

New Sub Urban Stuart Harrison Nic Granleese

Front cover


The original panorama

The panorama

The first thing you should notice is that the original is a horizontal panorama. It’s made by stitching multiple frames together and delivers an image with one hell of a resolution. Now if I was printing this shot it would be ideal. It would hang on a wall well, but on computer screens and magazines panorama’s can end up looking skinny. There’s two much empty space above and below the frame. They end up being too small to really appreciate them.

Why does it work for a front cover of a book? Because hard cover books have wraps that can include the rear face and internal folds (see diagram below). By their nature they can accommodate a panorama, even if you can’t see it all at once. Nice to know if you’ve been holding off capturing your buildings in such a wide format because it wasn’t clear where you could use the final images.

Book cover

Why this panorama will never be the hero shot

The first reason is obvious. It’s too wide to fit on most mediums like magazines. But proportions aside, let’s have a think about the content. The hero shot (shown below) encapsulates this project in a way that the panorama doesn’t. It gives the project an identity and a face. It highlights the defining features of the astro turf hill and the strong cantilever. So while I aesthetically prefer the panorama, it doesn’t perform the necessary task of a hero shot.

That aside the panorama is still my favourite. It has a quirkiness about it, a sense of play, and I guess I just find it beautiful. It shows the building from a rarely seen perspective and it’s frozen a moment in time when the golden rays of the sun break through the clouds. It’s the shot I wanted to take, rather than the one I needed to take. And because of that i’m very happy to to see the panorama finally find a home and go to good use. Big thanks to Stuart and his team over at Thames & Hudson. Where do you find the book? Follow this link. And if you want to read a good write up about then check out this post on the Design files.


The Hero Shot