Sequencing and Narrative

I struggled when creating the sequencing for my book. I have made books for the past two modules but this has been different as the only images I have taken have been landscapes therefore it has been a lot easier to think about. As part of the brief for this module we had to experiment with landscapes, interiors, still life and portrait images, at the beginning I struggled to think of ideas for interior and still life images, that would fit well into my project. I was also put off by the fact that generally I didn’t really like these types of images. However once I had got over this and had a few ideas I really liked the images I was creating, this goes for the portraits and the landscapes as well. Having such of mixture of images I was really stuck on what to include and where. I had no idea what kind of photobook I wanted to create and how to go about doing this. I had a lot of things to consider, which images would pair well together, and whether they were all suited to my style of photobook, or any book- maybe they were better off as prints? I was constantly looking at photobooks, both in the library and online, but there are so many different styles that I was still stumped. Later that week we had a lecture on photobooks and the different styles: flat, arc, cluster and scatter. Learning about these gave me a chance to think about what sort I wanted to use and what best suited my work and the message that I was trying to relay. I decided that all could suit my project however I didn’t want to go for the easy option. I think that a scatter book leaves the audience to decide their own narrative, or look for the narrative within the book. I think this option would be the most rewarding as after the reader has understood and realised what the narrative is, it stays with them and has a lasting effect. This however is the hardest type to make and get your head around, this would also be rewarding for me if I was able to successfully make it. I will however try other photobook styles as well, something may work better for me and leave me with a stronger body of work!

After this lecture we also had a sequencing workshop with a piece of text and images from a photographer, with a project which is a working project. We did this in groups and it made me think more into how I could sequence images, should the text influence how the images are sequenced? Should we work on pairs that go together? Black and white? Colour? what to use. This set of images had both black and white, we had to decide whether to use both or just one type. This is something that I had never really thought about before, I knew a series didn’t have to be just one of these, however thinking of sequencing both together made me clueless! In the end we decided to use both, we started by thinking too much into the text and tried to sequence it off that, when that approach didn’t work we starting thinking which images worked together and made our sequence like that. This worked surprisingly well, and made me realise that all of the images that you like won’t necessarily be included, when making a book it is more than just liking the images, they have to work together as a series and flow from image to image well! So their may be images you really loved which just don’t fit in, this is something that you will have to live with. There is also the fact, due to how digital everything is now, and how viewers might not see the book as the finished product, maybe just an image or two, you have to be completely happy with the images that you are including, as that may be all that the viewer sees, dependant on how they find your work. After this lecture and work shop I started playing around a lot more with sequences, I made a lot of mock books to see what worked best.

Sequence 1:

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Sequence 2:

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Sequence 3:

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Sequence 4:

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Sequence 5:

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Sequence 6:

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Sequence 7:

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Final Sequence:

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I tried several different sequences (as seen above), I think that all that I tried had their good parts but there was always something not quite right, and I certainly had to question what I wanted to say with my work and which portrayed this message the best, I think I have got this sorted with my final sequence and I am very happy with what I have produced. I believe I stuck to the minimalistic approach that I have said I wanted to from the start, and this fits very well with my inspiration of the Matsuo Basho poem, as do the images. I included this poem at the end of the book, I always knew I wanted to include this, it was my inspiration for the project, as soon as i read it i knew what I wanted the project to look like, and could almost picture what I would be creating. I believe this poem is all I need to include text wise to sum up the project and summarise the book. This keeps the minimalistic feel to my book well, including more text would only over complicate the book and confuse the readers. I decided that the poem worked best at the back as it gives the audience a chance to have their own opinion on the book and images within it, without any text or anything else to sway their opinions. I decided that using it at the front, although this worked, just didn’t have the right affect, I didn’t want the audience to have this in their head while they were first looking at the book, however, when reading this for a second time it may have left the lasting effect that I want. I decided that the poem had to be in one, rather than split up, to cause this lasting effect and not being given to the audience in dribs and drabs, especially as it is only a short poem. By using the haiku on the last page will merely hint towards what I was thinking when creating the images and my book as well. This all fits in to the design of a scatter photobook, giving it a loose structure which may at first appear to be completely random. I believe that this is the beauty in that style, that once you realise what the photographer is trying to say, or realise the message within the work it is all you can see, and like I have previously said it leaves a lasting impression and has a bigger impact on the work.

For each of these sequences I made a mock book, mainly to get a feel of how the book would actually look and how it would flow, but as well this was the perfect opportunity to practise my binding for the project. See a few images of these mockbooks below:

Creating these mock books not only let me get a feel for what my sequences would look like in book form, and what worked best, but it also allowed me to practise my binding. By making so many I was really able to think about what the audience would feel when looking at my work and what impact it would make. From looking at the different styles of coptic binding, I decided that I wanted the cover to be separate and a lot thicker than the pages and not just an extra signature. This is the harder style of binding and more things can go wrong but I think it will look a lot better when it is finished. I want it to be different to the rest of the book and clearly stand out as a cover, I am very wary that if I chose the other option it may just look like I forgot to include one.

My final sequence was a refined edit of sequence 3, which I was inspired by Rinko Kawauchi’s book ‘Illuminance’, when I first saw this book, I loved the simplicity of it, and thought this certainly reflected a scatter style of photobook, something I was also looking to do. Sequence 3 is me trying this style out, very similar to what i saw in ‘Illuminance’ however, there was something missing, and the impact and effect that I was wanting wasn’t quite there. Although I liked the simplicity of using the same framing throughout the book, I think this was too simple. I decided to play around with this a little bit more, experiment with some full bleed images and the odd page looking differently, and this worked much better. I did really like the landscape books I made, these were smaller, and I thought more personal- the audience having to pay more attention and look more closely, however I was always swaying more towards this final style, it had the minimalistic effect that I wanted and just worked, compared to the other styles that I had been playing around with which I think had too many different types of page layouts and image sizes. I can’t really explain why, but I just loved this so much, which was quite unexpected as originally I didn’t think it would work, so I followed my heart and went with this as my final piece. This book contains 18 images, 17 representing the 17 syllables within a haiku poem, the 18th image representing the start of something new, the next poem, maybe a linking book for the project, or something new. The book is very much about the audiences opinions as well as my own, so really it is open to interpretation. Within my book there are 3 types of page layout: image at the top, image at the bottom, and full bleed, this represents the 3 lines within the haiku. Although this probably won’t be widely recognised, I wanted to play around with these numbers during the production of my book, I think it links well and gives it a meaning, and a reason for it to be the way it is, other than me just wanting it to be like that. To strengthen this I could of create a three book series, however I am not sure this i needed, with extra time this could be something to play about with, however with the time limits of the deadline I didn’t have time to do this.

The narrative within my book, is loose, this is one of the characteristics of a scatter photobook. This made it harder for me to make and sequence the book, because obviously there is such a thing as having a narrative that is too loose and not really there. I think I have avoided this, although my book may seem a bit random at first, if an active reader is reading my book I certainly think that a narrative is present, this may not be noticed at first, or even in the first reading but as I mentioned before when it is noticed the reader will feel like they have achieved something and it will have a greater affect on them, meaning they remember my work. I think the narrative is linked to everyone that may read it, I hope that it will make the audience appreciate what is around them, much like this project has made me. I think that it is relevant to everyone and can be linked to everyones experiences in some way or another. I did think about included responses to emails that I had received to give my book a stronger narrative, however I didn’t think this was necessary, especially with the approach I was following and wanting to keep things simple, I didn’t want to give my book a documentation feel that I thought this might do, I also didn’t want to tie the book to one person, or a group of people as I understand that opinions on this subject matter will vary. By researching into this the option was there and I understand how professionals may feel towards the subject, however I feel that it needs to be understood that anyone can do this and they certainly don’t have to be a professional, it is a spontaneous thing. I am happy with the final outcome of both my sequence and narrative to my book.