My Analogue Life: High Concept

10

I am not so much a snapshot person. Sure, I take them: of friends having fun, of pretty landscapes and strange signs. But what I really like are concepts. I like big, unwieldy ones that I have to wrestle under control before a single frame can be shot, and I like small ones, six-shots-and-under deals in which everything I want to say can be communicated in a handful of images and shot over a single weekend.

Shooting a series is one of my favourite things to do. I love thinking about it, strategizing, collecting the props and costumes and deciding which camera and film to shoot. Sometimes, the series are ongoing and the concept broad, like “portraits” or “prairie.” But on most occasions, the ideas are contained and specific, like the ones I’ve done of children in animal masks, the creepy “Ladies of the Balaclava” or the “miniatures” series of surreal photographs featuring tiny Schleich toy animals set against sixties and seventies backdrops.

Once I get an idea for a series in my head, there’s no letting go until it’s been executed. And while I can see the shots so clearly in my head, they always end up different than I had first pictured. I’ve learned that even though you plan something, there will always be surprises and that there is always room for spontaneity. I’ve also learned that not every series works or that something I thought would yield at least 12 images, bores me after six. Series, I’ve found, are the catalyst for all sorts of unexpected lessons.

Ideas can come from anywhere: a word, a prop, a person, a dream. There’s always a story, and as the cliché goes, everyone has one, even if it’s nonsensical and only in your head. The greatest challenge of a series is communicating that story without words and the payoff is not any recognition that may come, but the feeling of accomplishment when you see the individual shots that make up your series printed and lined up in a row.

Taking on a series is a great next-step for shooters who are tired of the same-old, same-old and want to step up their game, jump-start their imagination and focus on the fun that creating a cohesive set of images can be. Rather than limiting your vision, the personal parameters you set for your series can be strangely liberating, often pushing your eye out of its comfort zone and prompting all kinds of creative flow.

If a single picture is worth a thousand words, just imagine what four or six or ten images might yield.

Have you shot a series or are planning one? Share your shots and stories with me!

Pamela Klaffke is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who now works as a novelist and photographer. Her column appears weekly in the Analogue Lifestyle section of Lomography Magazine.

written by pamelaklaffke on 2010-10-13 in #lifestyle #bear #pentax-k-1000 #agfa-vista-400 #pamela-klaffke #lifestyle

10 Comments

  1. mikahsupageek
    mikahsupageek ·

    Hey Pam, I love every article you write cause it just perfectly coincides with my thought process of the week. I've been planning on a couple of series shoot for different projects I want to undertake. I'll be sure to come back here and post the results, will probably also write an analogue lifestyle piece when i get the series done =) Thanks for the inspiration !

  2. stouf
    stouf ·

    Nice article again ! I made a series that took me about two years to complete: www.lomography.cn/homes/stouf/walls/304-the-tree

  3. orpheuswasawoman
    orpheuswasawoman ·

    YES! This puts in words what I've been wanting from photography for the past month... Thank you for the inspiration, again =)

  4. pamelaklaffke
    pamelaklaffke ·

    mikahsupageek: definitely let me know when your series is done! i've always thought it would be awesome to do a series with other like-minded lomographers where i get to travel around and meet people like yourself and shoot together in an evolving world-wide series that would then become a book with diaries and interviews. (doesn't hurt to dream big, right?)
    stouf: gorgeous series of trees. i'd love to see one printed about 6 feet x 6 feet on a clean white gallery wall!
    orpheuswasawoman: great — i'm so pleased! you should totally take on a series , it's worth all the time, effort and those crazy moments of self-doubt!

  5. wilfbiffherb
    wilfbiffherb ·

    i did a small series, just on one day of my fiancee dressed up in a forest. not sure if its up your street but check it out if you fancy: www.lomography.cn/homes/wilfbiffherb/albums/1635223-fairy-s…

  6. discodrew
    discodrew ·

    This was a series I put together on the subject of transport. It was a rumble I had with a friend to prove analogue was better than digital. It was also the first time I tried cross processing.
    www.lomography.cn/homes/discodrew/albums/1644847-transport

  7. boredbone
    boredbone ·

    yeah. ideas, images. i love them: www.lomography.cn/magazine/news/2009/01/08/a-slice-of-analo…
    got so many things written in my head. got to upload.

  8. pamelaklaffke
    pamelaklaffke ·

    wilfbiffherb: great shots — i love the atmosphere, it's very dreamy and ethereal!
    discodrew: transport is a super concept; i like series that can be ongoing and evolve over time (i especially like this one: www.lomography.cn/homes/discodrew/albums/1644847-transport/…)
    boredbone: the whimsy & humour is fabulous!

  9. lomoteddy
    lomoteddy ·

    Very well written and really interesting. I also love to shoot a series of something that interests me, It is not as easy as it looks, creates all sorts of challenges, and as you said really steps up the creative process and opens many doors. thank you for this amazing article, I look forward to reading more by you !

  10. pamelaklaffke
    pamelaklaffke ·

    lomoteddy: you're sure right that series are often not as easy as they look, but tackling a series is definitely worth it. and i'm glad you like the article — i have a new column every wednesday!

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