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Sequencing

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Sequencing refers to the order you put your samples in within your portfolio. While mostly relevant to [photography portfolios], the sequence acts as a guide to the information, ideas, and picture making skills contained in your portfolio. Aspects of your work may be played up or subtly minimized. Any time, in fact, pictures are strung together in a book, on a gallery wall, on a website, they have an effect on one another.

Advice on SequencingEdit

  • Both the content of a picture and its form (line, shape, color scheme, tonality…) subtly overlay our experience of the next picture in a sequence. Consider the order of your images with that in mind.
  • Be clear about what you want your pictures to communicate. Use sequencing to establish the subject matter you want to work with, the skills you want to highlight, and your particular way of working.
  • Take a look at well-designed photography books (especially monographs). Read the foreword and text to understand the photographer’s agenda then try to get a line on how their sequencing strategy works to enhance that agenda. Then consider how the order of your pictures can bring forward the qualities in your work that you believe are most important.
  • Begin to experiment with the sequence. Do this over time, as it’s subtle work.

Photography Sequencing StrategiesEdit

Group Sequencing: Organizing pictures into groups of similar subject matter or categories is the most basic way of presenting work in a portfolio and done thoughtfully, serves as the first purpose of sequencing; to make a coherent thus easily remembered, presentation. Group sequencing is appropriate for many [photography portfolios], particularly for [photojournalism portfolios] which should demonstrate the photographer's ability to work in specific areas like spot news, sports, and features. Group sequencing may be less appropriate for a photographer trying to showcase a distinctive style or niche, such as in [fine art portfolios].
Narrative Sequencing: [Photojournalism portfolios], [editorial portfolios], [documentary photography portfolios], and many [fine art photography portfolios] become very invested in sequencing as integral to their creative process. Implicit in a narrative is the passage of time. This may be literal, by the clock, sense of time or a narrative may suggest the passage of time in a broader way.
Thematic Sequencing: Though documentary projects often employ a narrative sequencing strategy, there are many notable exceptions by photographers who are less interested in specificity and more interested in exploring broader themes.
Visual Sequencing: At issue in every sequencing strategy is the way that visual elements relate to each other from picture to picture and page to page whether in print or on a monitor. Visual or formal elements like line, tone, color scheme, scale, and shape can encourage a flow of information or can work to isolate images and their ideas from each other. Pairing pictures together that share formal qualities encourages the viewer to associate them together even if their content is different while pairing pictures that don’t visually connect supports their differences. You’ve heard the expression “form is content” right?
Page layout strategies may also work towards similar ends including; placing sets of images in a grid on a page or screen to create cohesion among the images, leaving a blank page next to a key image, and using image size to direct the viewer’s attention.

Website Sequencing StrategiesEdit

Web page layout and navigation both obliterate sequencing strategies and create new opportunities. Even though the viewer is often choosing the order in which to view pictures on a website, the editor still has many opportunities to impose sequencing ideas. Arranging thumbnails across the bottom of a page or into grids should be done as artfully and thoughtfully as if in print. Pictures fading one into the next in a Quicktime narrative is not so different than flipping through the pages of a book. On the web or in print, the basic rules of form and storytelling still apply.

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