Think in Bodies of Work

As photographers and artists we are usually focused on the individual image or work. This is fine, as far as it goes. Indeed it is necessary for creating that stunning image. But it is not the only option.
We rarely use images by themselves. In an article there will be several, in a book a lot and in an exhibition many. So while as photographers or artists we often think about the single image, we will commonly use them in collections.

A collection of images or art works can just be a collection of images. But this would be to miss out on some of the real power that is possible in a body of work. And that last phrase is the key to getting more out of your images.

You can think about a collection of images or works as a single entity, a body of work, exhibition or series, whichever term works for you. You can do this after the making of the individual images. But you can also do this before and as you are making them. Taking this into account as you make the individual pieces allows you to expand on a theme you can’t cover in one image, create relationships between images and develop narrative beyond what is possible in just one image.

A body of work will always be measured by its weakest image. So an otherwise strong series of images can be devalued by one very weak one. Now there will always be variation in the strength of works within a series, but you want to eliminate obviously weak members. Edit savagely. This can be very challenging to do, but very rewarding. Done well, a body of work adds to and enhances the individual images that make it up and allows you to go further than a single work would. It also pushes you to get beyond a single great image on a topic or idea, and to create a series of strong images. In the end, this makes you better at what you do.

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