A Typology

There’s a little alleyway which passes the front of our house and most days we see a stream of people going by, on their way to the car park, high street, seafront or shops.  They are generally burdened to some extent with their purchases.  Some are regulars whom we recognise, others are holidaymakers or day visitors.  It’s a constant source of interest for people who are a bit nosy (guilty).  The ladies in these pictures have been to the shops and they are toting their acquisitions in shopping bags, the common theme of the photographs.  To expose the theme I chose to select only ladies and photograph them in the same location in very similar poses and positions and at the same time, more or less.  Lunchtime, in fact.

They were all happy to oblige and several chatted for a while.  The sun was bright to the left, placing their faces in shadow to the right so I had my Glamorous Assistant fill with a large white reflector.

In thinking about typologies I assumed there has to be a common thread, something the subjects share though it ‘shouldn’t be too obvious’ – or even visible?  Maybe something which is noticeable because it’s missing, a pic of something which is not there.  (definitely over-thinking now).

But as for not making the series ‘too literal or obvious’, surely that is one of the fundamental purposes of a typology – to reveal and expose the characteristics which underpin the work, rather than to leave it semi-hidden, vague and obscure.  Of all photographic endeavors perhaps a typology is the most literal.

Imagine a series of twenty-five photographs where the connection between them – the type part of the typology – is not obvious. Where the ‘systematic classification’ is not emphasised.  The connection is opaque.  A typology of 25 drummers for example, but without the visible accoutrements of the profession.  No sticks, toms or hi-hats, just 25 blokes who look a bit tired. How successful is that?  Or the Bechers deciding to make a typology of cranes, but through the medium of dance.  It’s only by making the connection thoroughly literal and obvious that the subtlety and character of the series emerges.  It’s like an averaging of similarities, whereby difference becomes apparent.