1.3 Portraiture typology

For this exercise, our course notes ask us to try and create a photographic portraiture typology which attempts to bring together a collection of types.  The aim of the exercise is to think carefully about how you wish to classify these images; don’t make the series too literal and obvious.

So first I decided to research typology a little bit more in depth before starting the exercise here is some notes I made –

-Typology, as I know, is the study of types assembled through observation, collection, naming and grouping.


-In our course notes, we look at the work Variable Piece #101 by Douglas Humble.  Variable Piece #101 is a series of 10 photographs made of Bernard Becher, a  photographer as well as a typologist.  Bernard Becher was asked to look like a priest, a criminal, a lover, an old man, a policeman, an artist, a philosopher, a spy and a nice guy as well as Bernard Becher himself.  Douglas Hueable then sent Bernard the photographs two months later so that he could not remember what face he made for what.


–  Bernard and Hilla Becher documents architecture each image is taken from the same angle at approximately the same distance from the building.

apr_typologieschoc.jpg– —Rachel  Been photographed different sorts of chocolate bars.

So after doing my research, I started to write down some ideas I had for the exercise-

  1. different breeds of dogs
  2. different types of books
  3. different types of cars

was just some of my ideas.


So I decided to go for a trip to the motor museum and photograph different types of old cars when I got home I realised I misunderstood the brief our course notes ask us to try to recreate work in response to Sanders.


-August Sanders Face of our time 1929 is a collection of different portraits that document the social types of German society between the two world wars.


My first attempt did not work out as I did not follow the brief.  So I decided that I would rework the exercise this time following the brief.  The idea is for me to create a portrait series of my daughter.  I will dress her up in different types of clothing showing her different interest, who she is.  The work will be done in my homemade studio.  Looking at the typology work of August Sanders, Hilla and Bernard Becher as well as Rachel Been I have noticed that their images are more or less taken at the same angle as well as the same distance.  August Sanders Portraits his subjects are looking straight at the camera and is placed in the centre of the frame they do not show much emotion.  I will be trying to use the same techniques in my portrait series.

My attempt at typology –


Typology is the study of types.  Photographers such as Hilla and Bernard Becher as well as Sanders used typology to document their subjects.  Hills and Bernard documented the changes in German architecture while Sanders documented the German society between the two world wars.  Both of these artist have created historical records by using typology if the images was not placed together I don’t think it would have had such a powerful message such as that of Sanders portraits of Society inbetween the two world wars.  what I found interesting when looking at different typologies is that each image was created more or less at the same angle and distance as one another. when doing my typology I tried the same technique.  Overall I am very happy with the end result of the exercise even though it was frustrating at the start because I misunderstood the brief.


References –

The study of typologies (online) availabe at https://blog.redbubble.com/2012/04/photographic-typologies-the-study-of-types/