Do you sequence your prints? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi again,

Do you sequence your prints when showing or exhibiting? Why do you do it? Isn't a photograph supposed to stand on it's own however they are placed? How does a sequenced body of work affect the viewers? Do you do it to gain an extra mile in approval rating for your work? Thanks.


-- Aaron (, January 07, 2002


For me, a body of work would remain incomplete without sequencing. One would hope that individual images work alone. However, a sequence of images can convey a great deal more. The balance and interaction of pictures in combination receives as much consideration as the rest of the process of my picture-making. Many of the associations and links between photographs may be personal to me and probably cannot be read literally by the viewer - but it is a question of being deliberate about what one is saying through the work. Hopefully, the viewer may then also sense (perhaps subconsciously) that a deliberate 'balance' or narrative thread underlines and emphasises the individual works. thanks and good wishes.

-- Stephen Vaughan (, January 08, 2002.

Whether we like it or not, people on an exhibit will look at your images in sequence, and this sequence will affect the viewer.

Order is important to maintain the interest in your images troughout the hole sequence.

In general, you should start with a very good picture (but not the best) to catch peoples attention, then you should oscilate so the sequence doesn´t get monotone. Finally, finish the exhibit with the best image, so people will get a good "aftertaste"...

Hope this help...

-- Enrique Vila (, January 08, 2002.

My current way of working involves creation of a portfolio of multiple photographs. When exhibited they are hung in a specific sequence. The best analogy I can use to describe this is that each photograph is a word. The words must be set in a certain sequence so that they communicate the central thought of the portfolio. When they are shown together, the viewer is presented with the complete well-structured thought rather than randomly placed words. I don't sequence the photographs to get approval; I sequence the photographs to complete a visual thought. This process may or may not work for you. Right now, it's working for me.

-- Joe Lipka (, January 08, 2002.

Photographs, by their very nature, are nearly always shown in sequence, in realtion to other photographs. In fact it is more rare for a photograph to be shown in isolation - i.e have a whole wall to itself in an empty room.

Otherwisem whether in a book, a magazine layout, an exhibition, portfolio showing, they are always in a sequence. And of course, as soon as you do this, it changes the photograph. Put photo a next to photo b and it changes the meaning of both. add photo c, and it chnges the whole thing again. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

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-- Tim Atherton (, January 08, 2002.

I have curated a number of photographic exhibits & the work gets sequenced for many reasons. Even if the photographer isn't sure how they want it, the museums & galleries hang the works while trying to create a more pleasing show, atmosphere & enjoyable experience for those who view them. Not 'pretty pictures all in a row', you get that on the walls of the local elementary school using scotch tape & your kids drawings. We try to arrange images so each can get attention as well as give you a flow from one area to another. Viewing fine art is a sensual experience and is to be enjoyed. Not a jarring experience that constantly requires you to refocus and rethink why you came in the first place. The images flow, even if quite different in character or subject matter. It is not size nor subject matter, it is how they feel on the walls and in relation to the room size as well as with each other. A straight commercial gallery may arrange images in order to sell more by placement of both image & how it is lit. A more staid gallery won't do this, instead placing images more for the feel of each and how they relate to each other. A good show encourages you to spend time with each image while at the same time allowing for a flow through the display space that isn't jarring and uncomfortable, an enjoyable viewing experience. Even if an artist deals with shock images, too many will lose the shock value and few will look at the work with more than a cursory glance. Well placed work will emphasize the prints and help the viewer to stop & look as they go through rather than just walking by giving a casual glance. Any good artist will sequence their work, whether it is a time line, a grouping of experience or technique or just a way they would like the work to be seen.

-- Dan Smith (, January 08, 2002.


I maintain that sequencing is essential the moment there is more than one photograph.

I would also suggest that the photographer should critically study the ralationships of the photographs with one and otherand even vary the print sizes or orientations (portrait/landscape) to have the collection form a cohesive, harmonious whole.

If the photographs are to be hung as an exhibit I think the photographer should get a feel for the space and arrange the photographs to make advantageous exploitation of the design features and layout of the exhibition space. (What image to place opposite the point of entry or on structural column, for instance.)

Working with proofs, or thumbnails, variations can be tried to determine the most effective - either alone or in collaboration with the Curator.


-- Walter Glover (, January 08, 2002.

Theses are great answers. Very professional and experienced. Just curious Aaron, what's really on your mind? Does it seem dis-honest to you to arrange critically? If you hang them right side up, you may as well go the rest of the mile and arrange them for the best critical advantage. Or not? Now folks that have a dialogue next to the photo that's bigger than the photo........

-- Jim Galli (, January 08, 2002.

Don't know, Jim. Consider this a learning phase for me. Aaron

-- Aaron (, January 08, 2002.

Aaron, The previous answers cover the field excellently. I suggest you look at the portfolios of Ansel Adams. They are sequenced, the portfolios are small, and you get a good idea about the ways one can sequence images. Another work to examine is Michael A. Smith's Visual Journey, his retrospective work. The sequence in either work make sone aware of the challenge, fun, and power, in not special order, of sequencing strong by themselves images. Bob

-- Bob Moulton (, January 09, 2002.

Because, I know how important this is to me when I visit an exhibit. And because, I know how poorly I sequence my prints. I have taken several quick classes on exhibiting and displaying prints. At one of those classes it was suggested that you spend as much time as posible with a set of loose prints, put them on the floor, the wall, the table, and do this for several days then put them "in"sequence and if time allows, put them away for a while and then do it again. It helps a lot. I remember him saying that at the museum where he was working, they would send several copies home with different people and that it was amazing that most people agreed on the final sequence. But for now I continue to ask a friend and she always sets me straight. She describes it as the same problem as the Dog that ate the Cat that ate the Bird that ate the Mouse that ate the...... If any of these are out of order, it's just another story, that most people will not understand. She then goes on to add that there are times when it makes for one heck of a story if the Mouse ate the Dog.

-- R.L.(Mac) McDonald (, January 10, 2002.

Thanks again for all your generous contributions. They'll be useful I'm sure. Aaron

-- Aaron (, January 11, 2002.

Dear Aaron, For my last 2 solo shows I asked a friend of mine, a world class painter, to help me hang the show. First i arrange the photograghs, thens he lays out the exhibit. Both times the painter's lay out of the show was far superior to my own. I bring a certain "prejudice" to the show to put certain photos together for subjective perhaps non- artistic reasons which turn out inferior to my painter friend's eye. Anyway a second talented eye from a non-photographer has greatly helped my shows. John Elder

-- John Elder (, January 12, 2002.

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