Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ty-pol-o-gies

by Kim

 n. pl. ty-pol-o-gies

   1. The study or systematic classification of types that have characteristics or traits in common.

I guess it would be safe to say that all of us have, have had, or will have a collection of some kind in our lifetime. Most are on purpose and some not so much. For instance, I believe I have a collection of dust bunnies through my house as from time to time I see them scamper across the floor when they think I'm not looking. Totally not on purpose. I do however collect some more interesting things, on purpose.

Something I love to do when walking the beach is to look for shells and although I do love a shell that is in one piece, a lot of the ones I keep end up being the ones that no one else wants. Broken shells, shells with holes in them, big ones and little ones and I keep them all in a big wooden bowl. And in that bowl I even have them informally grouped by their types. Because I'm kinda nerdy, I like to take them out occasionally and look at them, study them and just hold them in my hands while listening to them clink together. They make the most magnificent sound. So the process of recording with my camera the similar types of my shells was rather fun.



Photographically speaking, a typology is a collection of collections, the assemblage of things based on a shared attribute, and displayed as a series. The background, lighting, cropping, camera angle and subject position should be the same for each photo when doing a study of types.


Curious about typologies, I did a little "Google" searching and found roots in photographic typologies that go back to the early 1900's with a German photographer named August Sander and his People of the 20th Century, the collective portrait.

His life's work began in 1911 as he set out to document the German people, citizens of the twentieth century, categorizing them by profession and social class. By the 1930's he was quite recognized as an authority on photography in Germany and was delivering lectures by way of a radio show called "The Nature and Development of Photography." In 1929, 60 of his portraits from his People of the 20th Century series was published in a book called Face of our Time. Unfortunately, he fell short of completing his project as Hitler rose to power, and in 1936 his book Face of our Time was seized and all the plates destroyed. After moving away from the area about 1942 he was able to save most of his negatives.


I'm not completely sure if this last group of photos can be classified as a typology since because of the nature of the sunrise, well, it's impossible to get the same background and lighting. Cropping is even tricky. And to be fair, unlike the photos of the shells that I took with a purpose in mind, these were photos already in my archive. The only commonality of the sunrise photos is that they were photographed at the same place, but slightly different positions as the sun is always on the move. But it is fun to see the varied sky conditions that occur in the same place, only a different day.

It is very interesting that when similar types are grouped together, not only are we better able to see the similarities, but also the subtlety in their differences as well (as in the shells).

In conclusion, I can definitely see myself "collecting" different collections, even if they aren't something that can tangibly sit in a wooden bowl. And yep, I even saw one done with cross sections of candy bars. But I'm not sure I have enough will power for that!

I would love to know, do you have any collections, or are there some you think you would like to now collect or do a series on? For me, this opens up a whole new way of looking at a subject that by themselves don't have as much impact as they would in a series or group. Share your ideas here in the comments and we would love to see some of your typologies in our flickr group.





12 comments:

Sarah Huizenga said...

Great idea Kim. I love how you put this together. I do have collections, probably a few too many :) One of my favorites is my collection of honey pots. My dad is a beekeeper, so I have always been interested in things related to honey.

kelly said...

oooh...this has me thinking...:) and you know what's kinda cool about this kind of collecting? no 'stuff' to find a place for. :)

Katie said...

collections remind me of the all the collections i had as a kid, and i had tons of them---model horses, hot wheels, doll house furniture. looking around now, i'm sad to see i don't really collect stuff now. i think i may need to change that. soon!

heyjudephotography said...

I so love seeing collections all together. They say in design, to place your collections together, instead of spread around the house, to bring importance to them, and to show their similarities and their differences. Over the years I've collected so many different things. Recently I've started clearing out and saying "no more!" I do still enjoy my vintage camera collection and I have a huge collection of Nativity, from all over the world. For now, I'll stick to just those two.

CarolHart said...

This is such a fun post Kim! Thank you for sharing your collections. I most especially like the post and bird collection of photographs. I have certain favorite places I go to take pictures so I guess I have a collection of images representing a certain place but during different seasons. You've inspired me to go back to those and group them together. Thank you so much!

Dotti said...

This is a fantastic post and an even more amazing idea! It does make me want to go back to the beach, though ... I collect shells, as well as pitchers. I love the shape of pitchers. Well done, Kim!

Viv Halliwell said...

So attractive in their groupings, it makes me want to do a similar project....

leigh said...

I love these! I had never heard the word typology before. Thank you for introducing me to it!

Deirdre Haber Malfatto said...

This really spoke to me. Thank you. I don't think it counts as a typology, more as a series in process, but I have ended up with several photos of two oddball empty chairs together and am always on the lookout for more.

On another topic, I helped an artist friend out with a project she did on collections and got to join her in taking photos of collections of people in our community. Among other things, I photographed dollhouses, drums, comic books, typewriters, heirloom silver spoons, and more. I really enjoyed that opportunity.

Carol said...

I love this idea - I hadn't heard of that word either. These are beautiful collections - that spot where you capture your sunrises is always beautiful. I look forward to them. You know there are art journals that look for series like these for an artist spread . You should start sending them in!

terriporter said...

Just beautiful, Kim, and I love this idea! Have always loved your sunrise shots but seeing them all together like this just adds so much impact. And your shell collection would make such a wonderful canvas! I collect shells too but don't get a lot of opportunity to be where I can find them. I do shoot "like" things like cactus blooms and the doors down in the barrio area in Tucson. Will have to post the poster I made of the barrio doors.

Cathy H. said...

I have just recently learned about typologies, and they're fascinating! I saw the one with the candy bars and it was pretty cool! I have a few collections around; I need to try this!

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