Summer Star Photography Book Project at Merrimack College 2019

“I just want to take a moment to thank you all again for so graciously hosting me and my graphic design students from Merrimack at Summer Star today.

It was truly a wonderful day! The students left feeling inspired and refreshed. And I will certainly keep you posted on the photo book projects as they develop. Many thanks.”

-Dan Vlahos

In late March of 2019 Dan Vlahos, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Merrimack College, led ten of his freshman Graphic Design students to Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary as they commenced their final project: a photography book that reflects upon the nature and architecture of Summer Star.

For this project, each student is asked to develop the content for and to design a twenty-five-plus page photography book. To capture imagery for the book, students spent an entire afternoon exploring Summer Star with help from Summer Star staff and volunteers. While on site each student captured hundreds of high-quality photographs.

When the students returned to campus they began reviewing, curating and editing imagery in preparation for layout in their books. Each student is also asked to compose an introductory written statement for their books. The book project integrates learning from prior projects by incorporating typography, writing, photography, layout and production techniques into one final project. Beyond this students gain a renewed appreciation for nature, or what Professor Vlahos calls “learning through design.”

On April 6th, Professor Vlahos shared the Summer Star Book Project with fellow educators at the 2019 Biennial FATE (Foundations in Art, Theory and Education) Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Vlahos joined a panel of leading visual arts educators in discussing how environmentalism and social justice connect to the visual arts.

The student’s books are currently in the final stages of design, layout and pre-production. The final books are either produced by hand or ordered through an online service such as and will be completed before the end of the Spring semester.

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