When you are starting to work on a photo series, there are of course countless tips and advice. In fact, there are plenty of pretty good books written about the subject. Below I have mentioned a few tips from personal experience in making my recent series projects.
- Pick a subject that interests you, otherwise it won’t work.
The first and most important choice when working on a series is the subject. Of course, that doesn’t have to be thought out to perfection, but it does give you a direction. It is also important that you choose something that is either very close to you, so that you can start working on it right away, or a subject that requires a little more effort to find out more about. Make sure it is a subject that interests you (even if you don’t know much about it at the moment). Finding a subject that you don’t know anything about is a difficult task. And working on such a project for longer is a waste, because you probably don’t get as much fun out of it and therefore not the desired end result.
- Create the series for yourself. Admiration from others is not the goal
For whom are you photographing? And why? Most, if not all, will say that they do it for themselves, because they like it or something similar. You shoot for yourself. You get pleasure out of it. You want to capture something beautiful or you want to tell a story. If you are satisfied with the final outcome, it’s good. That’s why you do it! If others can also appreciate it and are happy with it, then that is a good thing. Photographing with the aim of impressing a jury and winning a competition is not a problem in itself. However, there is a risk that you will not enjoy the whole process as much because you are working with a certain thought. And if a jury, photo club members or your friends don’t get enthusiastic about your photos, it’s completely miserable. So how will you feel about your series and all the work done?Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
- Break the rules but make sure you know them
Basic knowledge of the ‘rules’ of photography is a useful asset, but you also need to be able to ignore it. That a composition with the ‘Rule of thirds’ or the ‘Fibonacci sequence’ gives a pleasant picture, or that there should be triangles in the image, will help enormously in determining a good composition. But these rules are not sacred. Even more so, why not place a prominent element right in the middle? Because the rules say that it’s less attractive? Says who? And should the format of your photo always correspond to the formats determined by the camera manufacturers? 3:2 or 5:4 or 1:1? If you want your picture in the 7:2 format, then do as you please! Following the rules means that there is little surprise left because everyone builds the composition in the same way. A deviation from the standard ensures an interesting photo. And that in turn is interesting to look at for a while longer.
- Kill your darlings
Painful. Your best picture doesn’t fit in the series. Now what? Too bad. It’s gonna have to be removed. You create a series and then the total counts. If your best photo doesn’t fit in with the entire series you want to show or the story doesn’t support it well enough, such a top photo can ruin your entire series. But don’t worry, because you can hang your favorite on the wall. Right?
- Show your series to a lot of people
This tip is a bit in contradiction to the second tip. Assuming you made the series for yourself, but when you also want to use it in a competition or as an entry for an exhibition, then a little feedback is nice. What one person likes is not necessarily appreciated by others. In that case it is useful if you have received comments about your work from different people. Someone who has been working with photography for years has a completely different reference framework with images than than a beginner. Both will have an opinion that can help you make the final choice for your series. Whatever opinion or advice you will (or will not) follow is up to you. You will gather all feedback and decide ‘in the end’ what the perfect series is for you.
Does it stop with these 5 tips? Nope, the list of tips is much longer, if you like. In my opinion, these are the most important, or at least the tips you should keep in mind when making a series. Wondering if you agree with me, or if I missed any important tips that should definitely not be lacking here.