I’ve been thinking about sequencing lately. It came up in a conversation with J.J. Sommer about curating my work into a photobook, I think I need to re-edit my website, and I read this interview with Jim Casper, editor in chief of Lens Culture. Here’s what he says:
“The sequence is important. If you’re looking at it as a visual narrative, you have to be a good storyteller. How do you hook people’s interest? How do you keep your audience engaged? How do you give them variety, how do you move the series along towards some kind of tension and then, finally, how do you bring them to a good resting place? The flow and the rhythm are essential.
If you’re not making a narrative—if you’re just trying to evoke a mood or a feeling—then the images have to talk to each other: they have to be in dialogue. Even in non-narrative photography, it’s important to think of a group of images as chunks of visual language. It’s a lot like putting words together in a sentence (or a poem).”
I’m not much of a visual storyteller. Sometimes I try to construct a narrative afterwards, digging up images that would illustrate the story or establish a certain mood to back it up. Most of these stories need words to be a story at all. I think I would be more interested in non-narrative sequencing. How do I make pictures talk to each other? I don’t know. I should probably learn to listen to what each of them has to say in the first place.
One of the good things about having a portfolio, is that it requires editing. I make small series of every trip, which means narrowing down a few hundred pictures to 15-20 at the most. It’s a good excercise in taking an honest look at your work. Be your own critic, because no one else is. Kill your darlings for the greater good if you have to. But sequencing is another thing, and I realize that I have never given it the full attention it needs. What I should do of course, is make prints, lay them out on the table and start organizing.
For a book, I would like to loose the geographical connection as well as the narrative. Not sure if that’s possible though.
Picture taken with the Nikon in the Sonneveld House, Rotterdam.