100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

The State of Photography Illustration in 2015

It’s been a while since we last checked the photography in fiction picture report. Let’s have a look…

Here are all the 2015 picture books I’ve noticed that use photography in some way. If I missed any, let’s hear it in the comments.


Vincent and the Night by Adele Enersen


Giant Monster

Tiny Hamster is a Giant Monster by Joel Jensen, Joseph Matsushima, and Amy Matsushima

Popular on YouTube, Hamster now has sights set on the picture book crowd.

Butterfly Park

Butterfly Park 1

Butterfly Park by Elly MacKay

Illustrations cut and positioned within paper worlds. MacKay make excellent use of light to add richness to the shots.

Sweep Up the Sun

Sweep Up the Sun 1

Sweep Up the Sun by Helen Frost; photographs by Rick Lieder

The Frost/Lieder tandem previously produced the wonderful Step Gently Out. Here they turn their focus from insects to birds.

Wild Ideas

Wild Ideas 1

Wild Ideas by Elin Kelsey; artwork by Soyeon Kim

A mixture of illustration, collage, and photography. It’s something to see.


Tiny Wish 1

Tiny Wish by Lori Evert; Photographs by Per Breiehagen

Reindeer Wish

The Reindeer Wish Lori Evert; Photographs by Per Breiehagen

Both of these books employ photoshop to give the images a slightly surreal quality.

Witch's Cat

Witch's Cat 1

Happy Halloween, Witch’s Cat! by Harriet Muncaster

Another interesting mashup of illustration and photography.

Some Things I've Lost

Some Things I've Lost 1

Some Things I’ve Lost by Cybéle Young

Some incredible hand-made objects going on here.

Merry Christmas Squirrels

Merry Christmas, Squirrels! by Nancy Rose

Maybe you remember The Secret Life of Squirrels from last year? Rose is back with more squirrellyness.

Happy Birthday CupcakeHappy Birthday Cupcake 1

Happy Birthday, Cupcake! by Terry Border

A follow-up up to last year’s Peanut Butter and Cupcake.

Little Bird, Be Quiet!

Little Bird, Be Quiet! by Kirsten Hall; illustrated by Sabina Gibson

Felt characters in three-dimensional sets.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I admire the illustration/photography hybrids that employ constructions — it’s interesting how they highlight the creative process. A character cut out of paper or made out of objects seems less real rather than more real. In a narrative, studying the construction closely might create distance from the story, but it works wonderfully well in the pairing of Elin Kelsey’s poetry and Soyeon Kim’s art.

  2. Hi Travis, I always look forward to your posts on the state of photography in illustration! As a 3D cut paper illustrator myself (who uses a camera to capture the final image), I love to see what you’ve discovered that I may have missed. I’m especially happy to see what Soyeon Kim is up to. Wild Ideas looks stunning…
    My own debut picture book, One Bear Extraordinaire, will be published in 2015 as well (Abrams BYR). Thanks again for bringing attention to those of us on the fringe!

  3. April Pulley Sayre’s lovely nonfiction picture book, Raindrops Roll also features stunning photographs.

  4. So glad you found my next book, Travis, and thanks for this list. I am eager to find some of these other books. I am always curious about how others combine creative arts and photography.

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