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

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.com/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.com/homes/wilfbiffherb/albums/1635223-fairy-…

  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.com/homes/discodrew/albums/1644847-transport

  7. boredbone
    boredbone ·

    yeah. ideas, images. i love them: www.lomography.com/magazine/news/2009/01/08/a-slice-of-anal…
    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.com/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!

More Interesting Articles

  • Photo of the Day by artlens

    written by cheeo on 2014-11-13 in #news
    Photo of the Day by artlens

    One can give an ordinary snapshot a mysterious atmosphere with the right framing and lighting. Congratulations to artlens for having our Photo of the Day!

    3
  • Most Popular Photo Last Year: August 15, 2013

    written by icequeenubia on 2014-08-15 in #news
    Most Popular Photo Last Year: August 15, 2013

    Having a color palette like that of a sunset truly made this landscape shot a fantastic one!

    2
  • Photo of the Day by sweetyyydreams

    written by cheeo on 2014-04-19 in #news
    Photo of the Day by sweetyyydreams

    Flipping her already cleverly composed and framed photograph, sweetyyydreams was able to morph this rather straightforward landscape shot into a dreamy one. Congratulations sweetyyydreams for having our Photo of the Day!

    4
  • Shop News

    Get 20% off on the Lomography Experimental Lens Kit

    Get 20% off on the Lomography Experimental Lens Kit

    Satisfy your hunger for creative snap-shooting with this lens package made especially for Micro 4/3 digital cameras.

  • Photo of the Day by sandravo

    written by cheeo on 2014-06-01 in #news
    Photo of the Day by sandravo

    Take a break from taking a straightforward landscape shot. Make use of your surroundings to frame your main subject and create an interesting and one of a kind travel snap!

    5
  • Photo of the Day by mafiosa

    written by cheeo on 2014-05-14 in #news
    Photo of the Day by mafiosa

    Exposing the film sprockets is one of the best ways to add a funky touch to your photos. However, this black and white landscape snapshot by mafiosa proves that these sprockets can give an elegant and classy feel, too!

    3
  • LomoKino: Life in Moving Pictures!

    written by adi_totp on 2014-08-21 in #reviews
    LomoKino: Life in Moving Pictures!

    I bought the LomoKino years ago, and since then I've been having great times with it. I will continue documenting my daily life with the LomoKino, which is Lomography in motion! You can see the movements and facial expressions of people - it’s priceless! Documenting life in moving pictures, the Lomokino can be used as a camera that not only shoots moving pictures but also works like the multi-frame wonder camera, Supersampler!

  • Shop News

    Wear lomo-love on your skin

    Wear lomo-love on your skin

    You’ve shouted your analogue love from the rooftops and worn your heart on your sleeve – Now it’s time to take it to the next level and wear it on your skin! Our new Lomography Tattoos are fun, easy to apply and come in five designs.

  • Mark Goslingstar in his Film and Toy Camera World

    written by cheeo on 2014-03-10 in #lifestyle
    Mark Goslingstar in his Film and Toy Camera World

    One of the great things about photography is that we can look at the world and preserve that image on print instead of just looking at it again and again in our heads. Also, we can create a world as we’d like it to be – with everything just the way we like them.

    1
  • A Weekend of Cosplay Competitions

    written by antoniocastello on 2014-10-21 in #news
    A Weekend of Cosplay Competitions

    There is a weekend in New York where the city streets look like an alternate universe, full of fantastic characters and people who seem to have walked out of a comic book or a movie. This weekend is the NY Comic Con weekend and people from everywhere come to one of the biggest comic convention to be part of one of the biggest Cosplay competitions.

  • Show off the 'Teenage' you with this new Lomography Rumble

    written by antoniocastello on 2014-03-11 in #competitions
    Show off the 'Teenage' you with this new Lomography Rumble

    As the cultural landscape around the world was thrown into turmoil during the industrial revolution, and with a chasm erupting between adults and youth, the concept of a new generation took shape. Hence, 'teenagers,' a new idea of youth, was born. Give us your best shots of the teenage spirit, and the struggle to be who you really are for a chance to win the prizes of a lifetime!

  • Shop News

    Zap up your Diana F+ with a Crisp Glass Lens!

    Zap up your Diana F+ with a Crisp Glass Lens!

    Thought you can’t get sharp photos with the Diana F+? Think again! With the Diana+ 75mm Premium Glass Lens, you can shoot crisp and clear images with the signature dreamy appeal of the Diana. With our Adaptors you can even make it work on your Nikon & Canon dSLR!

  • Photo of the Day by avola

    written by cheeo on 2014-03-08 in #news
    Photo of the Day by avola

    We all have our own special place where we can sit for hours and marvel at wonderful things. If this spot is avola's, we are not going to be surprised! This perfectly framed and well-balanced landscape photograph is our Photo of the Day!

  • Object of My Affection: Postcards

    written by dopa on 2014-03-22 in #lifestyle
    Object of My Affection: Postcards

    Aside from Lomography, I don’t really have a lot of passions that can be classified as "analogue." But this one definitely is, and maybe you can support me, too: I’m collecting postcards.

  • Konica C35: A Wonderfully Analogue Camera

    written by marioman112 on 2014-09-01 in #reviews
    Konica C35: A Wonderfully Analogue Camera

    They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but whoever said that must have never shot with a Konica C35. This 46-year-old beauty can definitely hang with the big boys. Come see why this camera is one of my favorites, and why it should be one of yours, too.