individuals within a series

by julie posted September 25, 2007

I just read my first copy of Ag magazine, and there were just so many good things about it. It had a decent amount of reading in it, there were no gear reviews, there wasn’t a single “use your wide angle lens to add foreground interest to landscapes” or “how can I improve this picture I took of a squirrel in the park last weekend?”, and there was some really inspirational photography. All that, and not a single advert to be flicked past. It got even better on closer inspection – the writing actually had, well, it had humour! The news captions had a witty and lighthearted tone, they lamented the ridiculous notion of limited print editions in photography, Bill Jay ranted about war photography and censorship, and there was even a reference to Borat in one article – “Naaaaaice!!!” – now if that’s not a welcome break from pretentiousness and an excellent balance of seriousness then I don’t know what is…

Anyway, in reading the first article – about working on a project, or series of images where you have progressed from randomly snapping whatever catches your eye, having developed your technical and compositional skills to the extent of being second nature, and want to actually say something. It brought up the question in my mind: if a series of images amounts to more than the sum of its parts, can you take the individual images and still appreciate them singly? Or even, does that matter?

I’m just thinking, does the emphasis on visual strength become diminished when you work on a project, possibly in sacrifice for the sake of fitting into the series better? Do you lose the emphasis on individual quality, when concentrating on the strength of the subject and the story more?

I suppose I’ve kind of answered my own question in terms of the overall quality of a series or project will be greater, when the individual images are stronger, as well as tying in with the theme. Definitely something to bear in mind when considering a project.

4 Responses to individuals within a series

  1. i’m thinking that releasing a set of photos is like releasing an album. a lot of albums have a couple of strong tracks and a lot of filler. really gifted writers can deliver albums that are solid all the way through.

    a photo series is like a concept album. some images might be filler, but they earn their place by supporting the series. there are some odd tracks in, say, the wall that you wouldn’t release as singles but they do fill in the gaps in the overall story.

  2. Perfect, Neil. Well said. Julie, give it a try and see what you think. I did a couple of mini projects. Basically, there length was one afternoon or shorter. I’m working on a longer one, but we’ll see what comes of it. :-) It’s just something fun to do and it’s a little different, that’s all.

  3. Projects are difficult in that more is needed than just a portfolio of pretty photos, but I would I would hesitate to include what Neil referred to as “filler” pieces (though it may be the word I’m objecting to more than the idea).

    Every photo in a series should be able to stand on it’s own. Some, of course, would be stronger than others, but all should be strong and compelling. I know it may sound cliche, but I feel that a portfolio or series is only as strong as the weakest image.

  4. Every single picture from set should be very strong photo. However you can achieve a little more emotions and reactions building set, especially if the set has “story line” or leads your mind more “into” the subject.
    Everybody can make one good photo – it just happens. But providing good quality pictures less randomly is the focus of us all.
    One excellent documentary photographer answered similar question: “How do you know that you have good picture on the film?” And his answer was:”I DO believe that every single picture is good. However after all selections, there is one good picture from seven or eight rolls.”
    What to say more? Being focused on subject, being focused on process of taking the picture, it seems like the only way to produce more good pictures we can use and show.
    Concentration, confidence with your camera, and that unique “something more” what is in your mind or in your heart.
    Where was I? Oh yes, set or single picture. To create set is more complicated, but more challenging. Maybe just process of choosing pictures for set is even more challenging. It shows your skills, confidence and taste.

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