Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cadence III

I posted some photos a little while ago. A "motif".

I'm not sure if it's obvious, or ever will be even remotely clear to anyone but me, and I don't even know if it matters, but there is a plan here.

The five pictures are, roughly, of 3 different kinds. Call the kinds A, B, and C. The cadence in my motif is ABABC, and by numbering the pictures we could say A1 B1 A2 B2 C1, five different pictures of three kinds. I think of it as kind of Pa-ping/Pa-ping/THOOOOM. The overall plan for the book looks something like this:

The A's are all on the verso page, on the left, and the B's are all on the recto page, right. The Cs generally stand recto against a blank verso, except the first one which is verso against a blank recto. The first and last Cs are bookends, facing into the content, bracketing and containing it. The other Cs are the final beat in a repetition of the motif, and are emphasized (THOOOM) by standing alone recto.

The C photos might all be the same C1, that goblin/spirit shape (which is actually a contemporary totem pole from one or another of the Salish tribes). I'm going to go back and reshoot the object, and may wind up using several variations, but i definitely want that as a repeated, anchoring, visual. It's central to the idea, as well, I think, so using it a bunch feels right. The As and Bs will, according to the plan, evolve, in some fashion to be determined. There will probably be some repetition.

This looks like a poem, and that is quite deliberate.

As I read more about "book art" I find that book artists tend to get carried away with structure, building incredibly beautiful and complex objects with utterly uninteresting content.

My plan here is, well, to not do that. I want structure and content to balance and complement one another. Repetition of actual photographs, as well as kinds of photographs will, I hope, make it easier for the unprepared reader to make sense of it.

One consequence of having this plan, approximate and malleable as it is, is that it will direct shooting pretty explicitly. I need a bunch of As, Bs, and a handful of Cs, right? And the Cs are easy, since they're all, by intention, very much the same. I need some breadth in As and Bs, to allow me to pull out some sensible evolution that means something (I have some ideas here, but they're even more vague and approximate than the rest of this scheme).

Baby steps. I predict that I'll look back on this thing years from now and laugh.


  1. I wanted to thank you for the blog, I've ordered your book, and I've also ordered Pictorial Effect In Photography, by Henry Peach Robinson, on your recommendation. I found your blog through a link at Kirk Tuck's blog. I've become a fan of yours, and I look forward to reading and absorbing a lot more.

    With best regards, A Blind Squirrel

    1. Thank you, Steve!

      It's a real joy to hear that someone finds my ramblings useful or entertaining. This really is just me thinking stuff through and yelling about things. So it's a bit uneven ;)

  2. I'm liking where you're going with this. Your previous post helped define my thinking on picture order in books and portfolios, this takes it a step farther.

  3. Hi, Greetings from Australia.

    I love the conceptual thinking behind this.

    It may in fact be poetic. However, it is also somewhat similar to the progress found in music.

    Take for example a lot of the early, say Neil Diamond type of songs (liking him or not is a moot point for sake of discussion).
    They will often take a format of ABABCAB (fade) Where A is verse, B is chorus, C is bridge or variation etc.

    It seems o work and gives a cadence or rhythm(format not music) that appeals and more importantly embeds itself in the hearer, especially if the refrain has a certain catchiness to it.

    Look forward to reading more.

    1. Absolutely. It could just as well be thought of in musical terms, and musical terms are actually more powerful.

      Another conception I have is to explicitly build "melodic lines", with a tall skinny book. Say, tall enough for three square pictures arranged vertically on every page. Turn the pages and read horizontally, but also vertical relationships. Counterpoint and harmony seem possible.

      But I haven't the slightest idea what manner of pictures would work here!

    2. Like the idea of 'melodic lines'.

      Lately I've been trying to nut out something similar. Got the idea when I learnt about Ornate Coleman "free jazz" - break the 'rules' - get outside the accepted chordal structure etc. Now applying that to imagery.
      Still early but slowly getting the gist. :-)

  4. Man, you do get the best typos! No names, no packdrill, but I just spotted one to top even "dropping out of collage". Assuming it wasn't deliberate.

    Anyway. I have spent a good part of my adult life attempting to sequence books (and the occasional show) of my own work, with varying success, and I have one solid tip: do the work *first*. Plenty of it, too -- several hundreds of top-grade images for a 40 - 50 image sequence. Let the sequencing rhythm emerge from that stack, and don't start shooting to fill out gaps in a pre-conceived pattern.

    Oh, and be prepared to "strangle your darlings"... Most times, I have found that it is exactly those images that kicked off and crystallised a sequence that end up not making the final cut!


    1. Yeah, I've shot a couple hundred frames already. I agree that it's vital to get a bunch of work done up front, so you know where you're going.

      In this case I'm feeling my way through some structure, and I feel like I've got the bones of the ideas but I can now go out and refine them, do some stronger variations.

      I feel like I have 50% of the finals shot, and fairly clear ideas and samples that define the rest. Something like that. I won't know for a while.

      Trying to make something out of a pile of already shot random photos is not generally successful. I could point out object lessons but I already have over and over!

      That said the vernacular/found pictures crew has done some interesting things.

    2. Assuming you're going the Blurb route, BookSmart is your friend, here. Even if you want to take total control over the final layout with InDesign or some such, BookSmart is the best tool I know for mocking up and refining a sequence. Far better than shuffling prints on the carpet.


    3. That is a very cool idea. I never thought of using BookSmart in that way. Good thought!

      I'm thinking about my usual edition of three in a local deerskin unglued binding. I hate unglued bindings but I think a simple/primitive flavor here is gonna work.

      Definitely considering a blurb version too, though.