Imprint: Visual Narratives in Books and Beyond, publicado em 2013 pela Art and Theory Publishing, é um livro absolutamente incontornável para compreender o presente dos livros de fotografia ou 'photobooks'. Ficam neste volume reunidas três comunicações e uma entrevista apresentadas num simpósio promovido em 2012 pela Hasselblad Foundation e pela Valand Academy da Universidade de Gotemburgo, para debater o livro de fotografia e a narrativa visual na actualidade.
O primeiro texto é de Gerry Badger, fotógrafo, arquitecto e crítico de fotografia. Entre outros trabalhos publicou com Martin Parr os três volumes de The Photobook: A History (vol. 1 em 2004, vol. 2 em 2006 e vol. 3 em 2014).
The book is the natural home, and the best showcase for photographers, because of the natures of the medium itself. Making a photobook, by virtue of the fact that it requires the selection and sequencing of a number of photographs, gives meaning to the photographer's work. The single photograph, so apparently clear and emphatic, a slice of life and time taken from the world, is in fact notoriously slippery when it comes to conveying any kind of meaning beyond "here it is, make of it what you will." The photobook may not solve this problem entirely, but it at least gives the photographer an opportunity to combine photographs and tease out a more complex meaning. The photobook allows a photographer the potential to 'tell a story', the possibility of constructing a narrative. (...) The photobook is the primary vehicle for giving the photographer's work a voice - a 'narrative' voice. But it is not quite a narrative voice in a literary sense, not quite telling a story in that sense of the word "narrative". Photographs do not narrate in the same way as words. A photograph is not a word, and a sequence of photographs is not a sentence or a paragraph. Photography is a visual medium. escreveu Gerry Badger.
Escreveu também no capítulo intitulado It's All Fiction. Narrative and the Photobook When we talk about narrative in a photobook context, we are frequently talking more about sequencing, the act of placing the images in a certain order within the book. This is one of the most essential and creative acts in making a successful photobook, almost as creative as making the pictures themselves. It certainly is the most crucial step after making the photographs, because it fundamentally affects the final "narrative" of the book. (...) Graphic layout - the size of the picture, its visual relationship to others on the page - is also an important contributor to the book narrative "voice", but sequencing generally comes first.
E não deixa de ser interessante porque Gerry Badger menciona André Principe. The Portuguese photographer and photobook publisher André Príncipe tells students to begin making the book by deciding upon the first image and the last image. The narrative, he says, "is how you journey from the first picture to the last picture."
O segundo texto é de David Bate, professor de fotografia na Universidade de Westminster, Londres, co-editor da revista académica Photographies e foto-artista. No capítulo intitulado The Syntax of a Photowork debruça-se também sobre the organization of pictures into a sequence or other arrangement of the work. Para tal, começa por definir o vocabulário que utiliza. Por exemplo: I want to use the term "photowork" as a way to describe a complete body of work (as a set of pictures and its other components like captions, text or sound, etc.), which is explicitly organized and presented to produce a distinct set of meanings. (...) thus the term "work" in "photowork" refers to the mechanism of appearance, the organization in a sequence, seriality or narrative in the arrangement of pictures. Outro conceito que apresenta, mas ao qual reconhece múltiplas dificuldades, é o de Visual syntax, if the phrase is to have any meaning, is where pictures are arranged together to perform a meaning-sense across them, whose functioning is based in a different mode - a sort of primary syntactical image system.
Num discurso particularmente interessante, Bate aborda também o fotojornalismo. In photojournalism, two main methods have reigned for conveying a story. The first and still most common method is not the use of sequence at all, but the single picture. In this so-called "decisive moment", the picture has, in some way or other, to convey the entire event in a single frame and instant. (...) The second common method, which links photojournalism to documentary practice, was mostly developed through picture magazines with a sequence of photographs to show the "story". In this practice the sequence of pictures conveys the particular motif of a story.
O terceiro texto é de Bettina Lockemann, fotógrafa e professora universitária de fotografia. No capítulo intitulado A Phenomenological Approach to the Photobook debruça-se a percepção visual das imagens fotográficas, sejam registos isolados ou conjuntos de registos fotográficos que podem ficar consolidados em livros de fotografia. Afirma no seu texto: the photobook presents photographic works as a unit; number and size of photographs, their order and layout may not be altered retrospectively. The book is complete as it is. Na estrutura do 'photobook', e citando Allan Sekula, distingue série de sequência fotográfica. A sequência é a unidade nuclear do conjunto de fotografias: the sequence, which is, firstly, not re-sortable, that is, there is a certain order that needs to be kept when looking at the photographs (...) no individual image can be removed without altering the complexity or the meaning of the entire sequence. A série refere-se a um conceito de conjunto mais aberto e flexível: the series is re-sortable, that is, there is no exact order that cannot be reworked in one way or another.
Lockemann introduz e acrescenta outros conceitos interessantes, como o da imagem transparente: the viewer is looking right through the photograph to the object denoted, he does not really see the image itself. Tal conceito está associado ao das imagens que integram uma série fotográfica: This way of looking and interpreting is especially coherent when individual photographs are taken from the series, referencing the objects shown as well as the series as a whole. As it is possible for the single image to persist without the context of the other images it is necessary that it provides a mode of interpretation by itself.