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Avalanche Dog Heroes is a nonfiction picture book, which was photographed entirely by amateur photographers. It was my job to coach their coverage, send them out into the field with focused shot lists, edit the thousands of pictures which resulted, and build a photo edit which best supported the text and created a visual narrative which flowed from page to page with suspense and beauty. The author Elizabeth Rusch and I then - from opposite sides of the country - collaboratively built a dummy layout, which the book designer could then utilize.

Role: Photo coach, Photo Editor, Layout Direction, Visual Strategy

The Photo Editing Process

I laid out hundreds of photos on the floor of my gym at night when no one was around. I chose pictures which spoke to each chapter, and these would eventually get culled down to only a few or even just one. To help me, I need to see how the visual narrative flows. Some people describe it as creating a melody. There needs to be an ebb and a flow to the pictures. Placement and visual hierarchy are paramount. You have to incite the reader to want to turn the page with anticipation. Kid's books are especially challenging because kids need a lot of emotion to stay connected.


Junior Library Guild Selection
2020 Towner Book Award Finalist

Pacific Northwest Bestseller
Oregon Spirit Award Honor Book



“Present-tense narration paired with dynamic color photographs puts readers in the moment…”      — Kirkus

“Almost every spread captures a dynamic dog training scene amid beautiful snowscapes.”  — School Library Journal

“The training of the dogs is both hard work and fun—a point made clear through photographs of Piper dashing through the snow, chewing on toys, and embracing Cohen.”  — Publishers Weekly