(Disclaimer: this post has no street photography content. It also has a self-link or two. That is all.)
A few weeks ago, a friend got me thinking about how websites, particularly photoblogs, fail to use their inherent “webbyness” to their advantage. Meaning, the presentation of images in photoblogs is typically date-based. You drill down and down into the past. It’s a one-way, time-based tunnel. 98% of photoblogs follow this model.
In the mid-nineties, art sites like Superbad sprang-up as a reaction to web consumers (and the businesses that created them) who’d grown used to navigating sites by clicking tabs, browsing for their products via the ubiquitous lefthand nav bar. By contrast, the art sites were immersive, anti-commercial and disassociating. You could get lost. There were no comments or permalinks, and there was often no way of finding where you were or how you got there.
In the last few years, tags have sprung-up as a solution for helping users find exactly what they’re looking for. Tags do a great job of categorizing. They create a nice horizontal path to vertical, date-based browsing, which results in very pretty grid.
But what happens if you want more from your images? What happens when you start to look for linkages in your photographs that aren’t related to time or subject matter? It seems that in the rush to organize everything, we may be missing out on evocative threads that exist just below the obvious.
This weekend I was talking with a photographer who has a new book out that is “about the edit”. In looking at how his book flows, it’s clear that he’s put a lot of thought into how one picture leads to the next. The photos leap back and forth across time, span all kinds of subject matter and formats, but there’s a strong, visible through line, page by page.
This month, I’ve been experimenting with “Overlap“, a different way of thinking about image sequencing. The included photos aren’t the kind of thing I can go out and pursue. The pictures arrive or they don’t. I can’t step outside and say, “I need a new picture that follows that last one.” Perhaps something from my archive jumps out and bridges the gap. Or not.
I haven’t seen many examples of photoblogs or sets organized along these lines. Why is editing like this relegated to art books? My feeling is that photoblogs (including my own), are more boring than they might be, because of their “bloggyness”. As in, “this follows that because it’s new and I just did it.”
With “Overlap” I’m hoping to articulate what may (or may not) be passed between two particular photos. If two photographs were to shake hands, what might they be palming?