“Desire Lines” by Jan-Dirk Van Der Burg (self published)


Making plans is important but having things not go accordingly is usually the norm.  Improvisation is as decisive a factor as the original intention.  These were thoughts brought to mind by Jan-Dirk Van Der Burg’s book “Desire Lines”.  The title describes the shortest path people take to get from one point to another eschewing the prescribed path that is usually marked out in concrete.  The book is a simple yet compelling collection of mostly dirt paths that people create by walking and biking.

The subject matter may seem a bit niche but Jan-Dirk makes it interesting by showing a wide variety of these desire lines in different context / uses and by all kinds of people.  As you can imagine some of these paths can be quite long.  But it is the shortest ones that offer the most insight into human behaviour.  Some paths are hard to find in the picture as they may not be the focus of the composition.  But this works well by requiring the reader to look more closely at the context.

We’ve all used desire lines before on a daily basis.  But it takes a certain kind of talent to document and present them in a compelling and engaging way.  It’s amazing how such an insignificant subject matter can be satisfyingly rendered so significant by a well executed photo book. Hope to see more works in the same vein in the future.

Some brief remarks about he design and layout. The overall feel is a lack of pretension. Simplicity in concept and design is consistently applied. Most photos are accompanied by a blank page with the location and the distance saved/gained by the desire lines. There are the odd double page spreads which have been omitted in the samples below.











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