As part of preparing a PDF to approach photography industry reviewers for feedback I decided to take another look at the edit and sequence, on the advice of my tutor. He recommended reading some of Jörg Colberg’s writing on the subject, which in turn led me to some interesting tips from Harvey Benge. Both looked at it from a point of view of photobooks rather than any other presentation format, but the key points are valid in general terms as well as specific ones.
Editing and sequencing advice
From Jörg Colberg:
What I typically suggest is to pin up all the photos on a wall and to live with them for a while. You’ll probably start taking some down, and on other days you might put an image back up on the wall. This is a good approach to getting to your own edit.
I did this back in Body of Work and have done it again now for another pass through.
However, I have so far stuck with the edit of 15 images. I do not think I am yet in a position to re-open the set to remove and add photos. It’s not that I think the current edit is perfect (whatever that means), more that I want to get some feedback from other people on this set, so it is a question I have put in for the two early portfolio reviews I am having. For a final publication (exhibition, real or virtual, or a book etc) I think I will probably end up with more than 15 in total. I’m thinking maybe 20 is more like it? But to reiterate, I want to start getting more specific feedback on this edit. I got a good result on my BoW submissions but no particular pointers on the edit or sequence.
Harvey Benge did a blog post with a list of editing and sequencing tips. The six that I found most useful are extracted below with my notes:
- Have a strong compelling idea. Fresh, exciting, demanding. Not derivative or seen it all before.
- I’m happy I have done this
- Start with really good photographs, many more than you will finally need.
- Hmmm, so maybe I do need to go back to my BoW longlist and look again for candidate images; I intend to do this after reviewer feedback
- Don’t shoehorn in a crap picture just because it fits the idea. Nor include a great picture that doesn’t fit the idea
- I hope I haven’t done either of these things; I mean, I might have done in earlier edits but I think I corrected this before the end of BoW
- Make a sequence that surprises, challenges and puzzles. Ask more questions than give answers.
- I do think my edit does have a good balance of expression and ambiguity
- Try and sequence the book based on a conceptual flow not purely visually. A sequence made visually is generally too obvious not to mention dull and boring.
- I concur; I made a similar comment about someone else’s sequencing
- Make the edit and the sequence and then do it again, and again, because it can always be done better. Always.
- Hmmm, yes I see the point but also wonder whether there is a limit to how many times one revisits the edit and sequence before the changes become meaningless or harmful; surely it’s a case of judging when to stop?
Anyway, I found these tips extremely useful in reassuring me what I’m doing right and steering me in the right direction where I’m not quite happy yet.
As noted above, the edit is unchanged. This is what went into assessment for BoW, in this sequence:
Although I did put thought into the sequencing at the time, putting the images back up on the wall after a gap of several months made me revisit some of my original choices.
The summary of my (updated) sequencing thinking:
- I’m very sure of what I want the first and last images to be; there is (to me) a sense of narrativity in the comparison of the two bookended glove photograph
- The degradation from sharp/precise to grungy
- I want to separate images that are visually very similar (as opposed to deliberately juxtapose them to accentuate their similarity)
- So images 6 and 7 above needed to be moved apart
- I wanted to space part different types of text fragment
- i.e. some are forgetting to do something, some are forgetting a fact
- Some are long term memory gaps, some are short term memory lapses
With all of this in mind I spent some time moving some, not all of the images from their previous positions. I tried various permutations. Below is what I have landed on for the Assignment 1 PDF:
I do concede that it is not greatly different; only the middle third has been reworked.
This is, by the way, a very slight change from the version I put in for the portfolio reviews; the red glove and the shop front were reversed in those applications. This was largely for page layout reasons in the Revolv PDF, which I shouldn’t need to consider going forward.
Anyway, this is the edit for the Assignment 1 PDF. It’s also the edit currently on the website.
Nearly there with this assignment, just need to pull a few threads together…