sets of images

by julie posted September 3, 2007

I’ve been looking at, and reading/talking about diptychs a lot recently. Also, choosing what to show at People’s Photography and how to present it, made me think more about how my stuff looks, together.

I think quite often, a set of images can become far more than the sum of its parts.

I know I’ve talked before about considering photographer’s work as a body rather than each individual picture separately. But even just looking at a subset of photographs gives you a better idea of what someone is trying to convey, than a single image taken out of context. It becomes clearer if they have a visual style, or an idea or particular theme behind the images, It brings coherence and unity but at the same time, I’m finding that it also makes me look closer at each individual picture to identify the connection, and as a result, I get more from it singly, and then overall.

The main problem I’ve had with this before is that I don’t shoot with themes, or a series in mind. I’m a bit all over the place, just wandering and seeing what catches my eye. Looking back through this randomness, though, I can pick up a thread that travels through the jumble. In fact there are a few threads tangled together in there. I think this is one of those things that people tell you when you”’re doing it and you”’re asking “shouldn’t I have a theme, or a project in mind?” and they tell you not to force it – because in the back of your mind, your muse is doing that for you, although more subtly than you might have if it were a conscious effort on your part. So, when you have a good amount of material to look through, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to pick up a few of those threads and identify when you’ve been drawn to something because of a visual cue or because of an idea, and pull them together accordingly. I think it goes further than identifying trends like ‘macro’, ‘landscape’, ‘portraits’ which is how people seem to want to categorise their photography round here – I think there are more understated stories waiting to be told in our archives.

From a purely decorative point of view, it would also seem that sets of images are preferred to single ones. Looking at the really mainstream interior decoration market you see those block mounted prints – always in a set of three. There are canvases, also usually in pairs or sets of three. You go to buy a frame for your wedding/baby/holiday pictures and there are large ones with multi-aperture mounts in them.

Just from this very basic consideration of the concept of pairs and sets, there’s a lot to be said for it. I have more to say about it too, but I’ll save it for later :)

2 Responses to sets of images

  1. I think this is where software like Lightroom can really help a photographer in ‘seeing’ trends in their own images. You can easily browse through your images and save them to groups you might have never imagined.

    I don’t tend to shoot theme’s either, but have gone back and reprocessed some images in a similar way so they have a themed look.

  2. I agree with Mark. I found my ‘style’ while adding keywords to all of my pictures, a long and laborious process, by the way. I would also agree to not try to force it at all, just keep up your intuitive meanderings and then, when you have a story to tell, tell it from the archives; I’m sure that the story will be there for sure.

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