created a project in Figma, added the guy to the space and we began to put together a mood board.

Fonts, maps, picture of other books (Figma, shared project)


We didn’t make much progress in collecting references during the one year of work. It turned out that the picture above was the only mood board that I, as a designer, was able to get from the guys.

Having said that, we started working in Figma on the structure of the book almost immediately. It was difficult as we had a huge pile of photos that needed to be grouped somehow.

We created rough page layouts and potential book spreads and began adding photographs. We moved them around, trying to lock down ideas. Some of the first drafts looked like this:

Draft layouts in Figma

Draft layouts in Figma

You can see QR-codes on these layouts. Initially, we thought that they would link to locations on Google Maps (for example, to the village of Kaptaruny) or to videos on YouTube (for example, to a video about how we photographed that moose).

Gradually, more and more photos were being collected in Figma.

Photos in Figma

An attempt to group photos by geographical locations

During the first two weeks, we decided that the book would be in Belarusian and in English, that we wanted to have beautiful maps in the book and that the maps would pinpoint the settlements near which the photos were taken.

As we collected more and more photographs, it became clear that most of the photos were not related to any kind of settlement at all. More often than not, the photos were not taken in a village or a town but in a forest or some place near a river. The idea to use a coordinate grid raised. Funnily enough, the idea was first brought up while we were somewhere on the road and I drew it with children’s crayons right on the asphalt:

A message to Slava (Dzima)

Slava proceeded to create a space in Photoview to arrange all the photos on the map and began adding our photographs to it.

At the same time, we began researching how exactly should our coordinate grid look like.

The coordinate grid idea was accepted

Here we are looking for printed materials which use coordinate grids in one way or another (Slava).

To test the idea, it was crucial for us to understand whether or not we have photographs that would cover the whole of Belarus, or would we have many gaps. In this picture, Slava is roughly trying to estimate which places have photos and which do not:

An estimate

Each module’s page numbers are shown on the map (Dzima)

Screenshots from Lightroom with photos with geolocation tags

A more accurate placement of photos on the map using QGIS (Slava)

A more accurate placement of photos on the map using QGIS (Slava)

Alex numbered all the grid modules on the map in such a way that we would have the numbers of future chapters of the book:

The first thousand photos on the map (Slava)

In Figma, Slava and Alex began to break up the photos into modules with each grey rectangle representing a module of the grid on the map.

Since most of the photos turned out to be without GPS-coordinates, Slava and Alex had to manually classify them into modules.

This took about 5 months to complete.

From the very beginning we encountered a problem: the photographers and the designer had different opinions regarding the photos.

At one point, I took a bunch of photos from the first chapter (about one hundred), chose the most beautiful ones in my opinion and tried to create a draft layout of the potential future chapter. This is what I came up with:

After talking to the team, it turned out that I had chosen the ‘wrong’ photos - meaning not the best ones. I had left quite a lot of empty space whereas the photographs wanted the photos to take up as much space as possible. We decided that it would be best to choose and arrange the photos together.

We redesigned one of the pages.



We started working together to arrange the photos

The result of the joint work

The result of the joint work

The result of the joint work

The result of the joint work

According to the grid of coordinates we organised the photos

Putting the drafts in order

After selecting the best photos, we saw that there were too many of them. We were limited by the thickness of the book: the machine that would glue the pages together has a limit of 6cm for the width of the book. From experience, I knew that technically it would be possible to make the width 6.5cm, despite it being wider than the official limit. As we were going to use very thick designer paper which was similar to cardboard, we could not make more than 550 pages.

“So many photos”. A still from the film about the book

There were 1,100 chosen photos. And we had to get rid of half of them. To do this, we decided to use the following labels.

Slava crosses things out in red, Alex in blue. Green — should remain.

Deleting photographs

Deleting photographs