A photograph is commonly perceived as a visual representation of a specific place in a specific moment of time. It is that fleeting moment that we photographers are perpetually trying to catch; trying to freeze in time. But what if that one moment was just one piece of the puzzle? Arranging photographs in a specific order with intent, as a photographic series, gives the photographer the power to control the narrative and tell a story.
First things first: take as many pictures you can! More photographs mean more material to work with, more variety in your selections and more options to play with. Let’s say you’ve been wandering around the city for a few weeks. The next step is to select the best photos! You can do this by instinct or try applying some kind of system.
I’ve selected the photos above keeping in mind that I wanted them to depict the bustling nature of the city, so my system was eliminating the ones I felt did not convey that. Pay attention to the general tone and color of the photos when selecting them. You want them to work together, not against each other.
A method you can use is to put an establishing shot first. Think about which photos could compliment it. That way you can build your photographic series around it and it makes the selection process easier.
Think in advance
Another system you could apply is thinking about your topic in advance. What are your interests outside of photography? If you are genuinely interested in what you are photographing, the photos will be that much better.
I wanted to make a photographic series that in some way depicted the statue called Winner, which is a prominent statue of a man, placed on the plateau of Kalemegdan fortress and the symbol of the city of Belgrade. So I wandered around the city, looking for scenes somehow including the Winner, but not in the first plan. I connected individual photographs by incorporating this tiny little figure hidden in the background.
Another way to go is to gradually develop a photographic series from an initial idea.
I was determined I wanted to take pictures of these pieces of plastic fruit and vegetables I found in Chinatown. To me they were so strange, I was obsessed with them! And after months of trying different approaches, I decided I would make the photographs resemble oil paintings. That way, the fact that some of the fruit in the photos was plastic wouldn’t be so obvious, and it would add another layer of intrigue.
There are many methods you can use when selecting photographs. Try connecting some of your existing photos by arranging them into a photographic series. Find out what works best for you or try a combination of different approaches. The great thing about being a photographer is you can live ‘different lives’. One day you’re taking photos in the studio and the next you are wandering around the forest. In the end, remember to trust your instinct!