Elle Bruce - First Frost

Think Photo Collections For Image Impact

There is strength in numbers. We know this. And it applies to visual arts as much as anything else. When you see an eye catching display in a retail shop the key to its impact is often the sheer number of the same (or similar) items grouped together. Imagine a grocery store selling one orange, one apple, one pear, you wouldn’t even notice the fruit department but a store with a pyramid of beautifully stacked oranges, apples and pears will draw your eye. There is visual presence created by the grouping and before you know it you are picking out the pear that looks the best.
Fruit aside, this theory holds for images too.  A carefully curated collection of images that share a theme – be it colour, texture, subject matter or style can (though there are always exceptions) have greater impact than a single image on its own. It’s for this reason that I’ve started to think in sets when I am out making images. On photowalks or when on a trip I’m trying to be more conscious of creating images that share a similar element so that when assembled as a set, they work together to have greater impact.
This was the first image I took on a frosty late fall morning and the pastel palate set the theme for the collection of images from this outing.

This was the first image I took one frosty late fall morning. The pastel colour palette became the theme for the collection of images from this outing.

For example the images featured here were made on a very frosty late November morning walk. The subject of the story was the way the frost muted the landscape, gave everything a delicate look and took on a pastel palette.  A big contrast from the bright red, orange and yellow fall colour scheme of only a few short weeks prior.  The newly frosted scenes had a quiet to them… as if nature were getting ready for her long winter’s nap. In past I might have only processed and shared one of the images from that day – the best one – but on this occasion I was mindful of the muted palette and made an effort to create several images that shared it so that they might work together.

Frosted dandelions growing in the grass share the muted colour palate but add interest to the collection

Frosted dandelions growing in the grass share the muted colour palette but add interest to the collection by providing a contrast of perspective on the morning scene.

Obtaining a cohesive colour palette while in the field can be tricky. Light and conditions change constantly but if you simply keep your goal in mind you might be surprised. Of course if you are shooting in RAW then there is always the option to tweak images later while editing to bring them in line with each other. While I find a cohesive colour palette the easiest, if it eludes you try using an other element to unite your images such as a similar subject (ie. things found at the beach, or only reflections) or a similar style (ie. all macro, all abstract or all minimalist).

A tapestry of fallen leaves dusted with frost found near by had to be adjusted slightly when edited to align with the colour palate of the first image. The sun was higher in the sky when this image was made so the yellow needed to be toned down slightly to better match the peachy glow.

This image of fallen leaves dusted with frost found near by had to be adjusted slightly when edited to align with the colour palette of the first image. Taken some time later, the sun was higher in the sky so the yellow needed to be toned down slightly to better match the peachy glow from images made earlier.

Of course I am not suggesting that a poor image can be made stronger by placing it in a group. A flawed pear is still a flawed pear regardless of whether it’s stacked with others or standing alone.  But I do think giving the “strength in numbers” technique some consideration is worth your time.
I know it’s not always easy to be mindful of creating images that share a theme while in the field but I encourage you to give it a try. I think you’ll be pleased with the impact grouping in collections can give your to images.
For more examples of the power of collections have a look at some of Elle Bruce’s Visual Stories.

About Author Elle Bruce

Bringing subjects to life, beautifully.
Elle is a Canadian photographer, artist and visual storyteller with a passion for landscape and outdoor life. Focused on creating impactful images, Elle also shares tips and writes on the topics of photography, creativity, and art. Elle’s vivid images and photo based art are available online for personal purchase and commercial licensing. Elle also welcomes commissioned work.

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