cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

PHOTOGRAPHY topology meets typology

The Topography of Tears: A Stunning Aerial Tour of the Landscape of Human Emotion Through an Optical Microscope

~ From Blake to biochemistry, “proof that we cannot put our feelings in one place and our thoughts in another.”

* Maria Popova in Brainpickings takes a look at Rose-Lynn Fisher’s The Topography of Tears.

Does a photographic topology come under typology? Topology meets typology?

There are a couple of previous post on typology written when I first came across the subject in 2009: various links. The names to look out for are Karl Blossfedt and Bernd and Hilla Becher, mentioned in Typology {1} Links to their work in there.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | topology | , , | Leave a comment

PHOTOGRAPHY Typology {2}

There has been a insistent and persistent question from the beginning of my serious video-filming. Why do some people object to being filmed? (Or photographed). Most don’t but a few do. What is it? The most surprising is those who themselves photograph who do not like being photographed or filmed.

Both film and photograph can show the classic response: the raised arm, obscuring the face, arm pushing forward, palm up, asking and demanding: why and stop: synecdochic connotation.

Without really knowing why, a brief look at typology hinted the answer was somehow there. By that I do not mean simply classifying the response to being photographed will in some way give an answer to why some resist.  But a rational set of typologies is a prerequisite to recognising the question has to be tailored to individual response: no one arm up asking not to be photographed means the same thing. Luckily everyone knows about this topic and has a wealth of examples from the simplest image management (my hair’s not right)  to some deeper psychological reasons which are often never  fathomed. The archives are full of tantalising images of long-dead people putting arms up, or clamping hands to faces, as the camera clicks, which we will probably never know the reason for.

The iconic examples are those like Grace Kelly’s beach photos, where she runs onto the beach from the sea stretching her arm forward, but still smiling.  It is part of some publicity shoot, but she is not ready. This is not the image she wishes to create.  There was a TV documentary a few years ago which dealt in part with the management of her image.


Now I have some sort of an answer to resistance to being photographed from The Handbook of Visual Communication by Kenneth Louis Smith: a weighty tome costing about £/$ 120. Luckily a few chapters are largely intact in GoogleBooks.

Section 10 Ethics: Chapter 28: Studying Visual Ethics by Applying a Typology of Visual behavior by Julianne H. Newton, starting page 459.

March 22, 2009 Posted by | photographic typology, typology | , , | Leave a comment

PHOTOGRAPHY typology {1}

Typology is the study of types, and a photographic typology is a suite of images or related forms, shot in a consistent, repetitive manner; to be fully understood, the images must be viewed as a complete series.

Kristine McKenna, “Photo Visions”, Los Angeles Times, 29 Dec 1991.

While there are many great bodies of work employing this method, there is also a lot of crap. Let’s be honest, for people who have no real conceptual thinking in their work, the typology can become an easy trick. It gives work the illusion of cohesion and intellectual rigor.

Cara Philips in her blog Ground Glass : Typology [12 May 2008]

Visual Consumption By Jonathan E. Schroeder page 56 {GoogleBook}


If you can’t quite read the snip above, use CNTRL + roll mouse wheel

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932)  : Urformen der Kunst (Art Forms in Nature)

Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography      page 1546

Tate Magazine  Issue 1 :
The Long Look: Michael Collins on Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd and Hilla Becher

Interview with Bernd and Hilla Becher (2002)

March 16, 2009 Posted by | Bernd and Hilla Becher, photography, typology | , , | Leave a comment