When one is trained in the practice of photography there comes a time when one approaches work in a form of “series”. But what exactly does “series of photos” mean? And how do we actually do that?
Several criteria come into play in order to produce a true series, that is to say, a set of images that have a sense both at the level of the background (what the images evoke, tell) and of the form (what it looks like from an aesthetic, visual point of view).
Why work in series? First of all, to help you define clearly what you want to show and how you want to show it. Secondly, to deliver a successful work, because the final result and its impact on a spectator or a client will be much stronger and more credible if your show is coherent, has a style or a soul and it says something.
It is necessary to think about certain essential elements so that the upstream of the shooting can enter what is called a “series of photos”. As mentioned above, the series of photos must provide harmony between the background and the form.
Background
What subject do you want to discuss? What’s the theme of your production? Here, everything will depend on its length: if you only have to capture 10 images, the theme will have to be ultra precise to bring coherence. For example: “contemporary architecture”.
On the other hand, if you make a series of 50 images, it can include different aspects of your subject. For example, if you are doing a long report on India that you are going to visit for a month, there will probably be architectural images, portraits, landscapes, religious rites, etc. Why? Because the length of this series allows you to develop several themes that, once brought together, tell about India – its diversity and your journey. However, it will be essential to bring consistency to the whole form.
Goal
Your general theme is now defined. But we have to go further: What do you want to show? What’s your point? Beautiful views to show how these modern buildings rub shoulders with old buildings? Public or private spaces?
For the India photo series, are they the poorest or richest castes you want to seize? The misery or the beauty of this country? Or a mixture of the two, if you work on a large-scale series of striking contrasts specific to this country?
Additionally, don’t be amazed if the undertaking ends up being far bigger than initially imagined – when you discover an enthusiasm for the subject, settle on the visual topic, begin investigating and altering, you’ll see that a photo series tends to take on a life of its own.