If you found your way here, you are most definitely also interested in knowing how to build a photo series. It might be difficult to see the narrative in the photography series as a whole. What should I keep in mind and what are the things to look for when building a series? This is one of the hardest things to do, even for a photographer who can already distinguish which images are valuable to the series. There’s something I heard a lecturer say about this once:
Are your images strong by themselves or do they only work being part of the series?
This is to see more clearly if an image is just a filler as I call it. A filler is an image that only brings value to the series and is rarely standing out as one piece when you take it out. This way you can see how that particular image works with the rest of the series and if it’s the backbone of the whole body of work. Sometimes you have to tell a story with fewer images and so it is important to know that each of them brings more value on their own to the overall series.
Therefore, your edit might vary depending on if you’re applying for an exhibition, an open call for a publication, or a photo festival.
How to Build a Photo Series
Photography art projects are constructed of well-thought series. The final images should communicate a story, something you want to tell your audience. Usually start with all the images, if you can – print them out in low resolution and go through them. Play a bit with how they work together and separately.
- What is the narrative I want to tell?
- What do I consider relevant to my theme?
However, if there is a required amount of images for example an open call, take it into account when you want to build the photo series.
With editing a body of work which you want to apply with, consider the amount of max. 10 images to be sufficient. Building the series to the whole portfolio, since it differs when there’s more than one series. Here we’re discussing only the editing of the series which are separated from the portfolio.
One crucial thing to remember when editing photos, is killing some of your work to let the rest of your work shine. The series might a bulk of snaps with no true narrative to follow. But to evolve from that is to see the whole picture is built out of multiple small pieces.
Ask your friends to edit with you
This is something I strongly advise you to do, maybe even before the primary edit. Either ask people you know or people you’d like to know if they can go through your images and point out the strong ones. If you don’t have creative people in your circle, find them online. If I would ask my mother to edit the series I’ve made of her, she’d edit them all out. So make sure for yourself who is your audience and find like-minded people to discuss this with. This way you can build a strong narrative in your photography projects.
Find themes that are similar
You should have inspirational artists you follow. Ones that most likely either have the same methodology or the same theme. Before you learn to distinguish the strong images in your work, you can see how other photographers have done it. However, I don’t mean any kind of copying, just to see ie. how many images one has or what is the composition or content in the final series. That will give you a feel of knowing how to build the final selection.
Answer the questions required
If you are applying to a specific competition or an open call, go through the requirements closely. It is usually written in the description, what it is they are looking for. It might be a specific theme or requirements about age/professionalism or gender. You will notice your work might not be suitable for every open call or competition.
Now that you’ve edited your series, you can build your portfolio.
Good sites to check
Some sites I follow to find inspiration