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Structure, Subject, & Sequence LAUREN JACKSON

Ivan Sigal’s “White Road” is a photobook containing images of the people and culture of Central Asia in the 1990’s and 2000’s. The book is structured in a way that each page contains either one photograph or no photograph. Some spreads have photographs on both pages while others do not. The photographs featured in “White Road” were also featured in gallery at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, where the photographs were structured in such a way that the photographs were framed singularly or in diptychs in white frames in a band along a gray wall. Sequencing is equally important in both the gallery and in the book. The excerpt starts with a woman laying in bed and ends with a woman working some sort of tool. Shapes repeat as one image transfers to the other. One particular gesture of a raised hand presents itself in many of the photographs.

Robert Frank’s- “The Americans”

Robert Frank’s “The Americans” is a photobook that captures the lives and culture of America in the 1950s. The book is structured in such a way that each spread contains one photograph on the right side, with a descriptive text of the image on the bottom left-hand corner of the left page. This structure creates simplicity and allows the observer to focus on one image at a time. The images overlay directly on top of one another, so by flipping the page, the reader can also follow the differences between the previous and present image. The final sequence in particular focuses on American icons that are not quite as the same, as well as American couples. The sequence is put together is such a way that the content and shapes of the image translate smoothly into the next. One image of young people in a car, followed by older people in a car, followed by a couple outside of a car, followed by a couple in a courthouse.


Taryn Simon’s photobook “A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters follows bloodlines of families all over the world. The book is structured in a way that shows text with the story of the upcoming bloodline followed by an image containing all the portraits of the individual members of the bloodline, followed by found object pertaining to the subject, followed finally by the same portraits shown closer and in more detail. 1.

The subject of this particular excerpt is the family of Hans Frank, a governor-general, and legal advisor of Adolf Hitler. 2.

The sequence of the photographs is determined completely by bloodline. In images where people were deceased or chose to not be photographed, blank boxes were added to represent their place in the bloodline. 3.

Conceptually, these three works seek to explain some part of human existence. Sigal’s “White Road” creates a relatable experience for viewers who may have before thought of Central Asia as “the other.” By capturing Central Asians sick, celebrating, working, or enjoying themselves, Sigal gives a voice to a people that otherwise would be unknown to much of the developed world. Frank’s work did nearly the same thing with “The Americans.” Frank’s book shows a changing culture in America, the rise in technology, especially that of the car, and the clash between the generations. Frank does not only photograph the elite or the exciting, but photographed the plain and the mundane. Simon’s work follows the bloodline, and brings attention to several issues present throughout different families across the world, whether it be disease or issues of inheritance. Formally, there are many similar elements throughout all three series that are used to express these concepts. Other than the explanations provided by Simon, little to no text is used throughout the other two photobooks. All of the books embrace simplicity in the standard shapes used for these photographs and do not rely on graphics, but simply on the photographs themselves. In the books by Sigal and Frank, all of the photographs are in black and white, which also formally creates simplicity and emphasis on the photographs. Each of the photobooks is sequenced in such a way as to tell a story about mankind. Both Sigal and Frank do not use place or time as a sequence factor, but use similar concepts to a create a narrative, rather the narrative be about suffering or about happiness.

Subject, Structure, & Sequence  

Exploring three photobooks

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