Design Exercise: Typologies

Last week I wrote about photographic typologies. A typology is a collection of a single type or class, with the collection itself being more important than the individual components.

photographic typology of clouds by Christian Webb

Christian Webb

If you’ve been reading our book Design: A Beginner’s Handbook you know that we end each chapter with a design exercise in which you use a camera to find examples of the design elements and principles covered in the chapter. After last week’s post I realized that I could fine tune that exercise and have you turn it into a photographic typology.

So here we go. Select one of the following elements – dot/point, line, shape, texture, value or color. Make a photographic collection of that item.

A typology compares both similarities and differences between items of the same “type.” The most effective way to do this is to be consistent from photo to photo so that the only thing that is being compared is the item itself. In each photograph try to use:

  • the same type of lighting – bright or low light, uniform or high contrast…
  • the same angle of view – straight on, angled, shot from below or from above…
  • the same framing – does the item float in the frame or fill it entirely?

Collect more examples than you’ll use. Now look at them. Are you finding additional connections that weren’t apparent when you began to work? If so, do you want to sort this collection into several sub-collections? Which is the most effective way to present the work?

Once you’ve selected the photographs for your typology you need to decide how to present them as a group. Possibilities include in a grid, in a traditional linear book format, in a non-traditional book format such as an accordion fold book, in a linear format on a wall, or another format of your choice. Select the method that you feel most clearly shows the typological similarities and differences between your photographed design elements.

Please share your project on our Facebook page.

Here’s a short video “Distinction Through Typology – artist Christian Webb.” I think you’ll enjoy it.

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