Digital Story Critique 5: Alison

The digital story I have selected for this week is Alison, a photo essay about Jack Radcliffe’s daughter Allison. Jack started this photographic journey as a parent, taking photos of his daughter. As he got ore into his photography, he became fascinated by what he was capturing on his camera of his family and friends… relationships. His camera became a part of the relationship he has with his daughter… Alison allowing him to witness private moments in her life, and Jack catching those moments on film. This digital story is the result of that relationship. I selected this particular digital story because I was fascinated to see how the creator would present a digital story that relies primarily on photographs with economic captions and a short textual introduction.

This digital story is simple and elegant. It is a mere glimpse into the life of a a girl who is obviously loved by her father. Through the photos, we learn that she has visited or lived in many places, she is passionate, she’s a smoker, and she eventually grew up and got married. The photos are captivating and intriguing and as he viewer, a felt like I was being given a small glimpse into an extraordinary life. The photos definitely left me wanting to know more, while actually satisfying my curiosity at the same time.

To critique this digital story, I chose the following criteria from Jason Ohler’s Digital Storytelling Assessments page: Story, Content Understanding, and Media Application.

Digital Story Evaluation Criteria
Story How well did the story work? 9
Content Understanding How well did the creator  convey an understanding of the material addressed? 9
Media Application Was the use of media appropriate, supportive of the story, balanced and well considered? 10
Total 28

I gave the story a 9 because the story was lovely but I was definitely left with a desire to know more. The creator lays the photos out in chronological order. However, we do not get to see some of the earlier photos, and then certain years have more photos than others. And there are large gaps between some of the years. However, the way the story is told, those items are a mere nuisance and not a true detraction from the story. Over all, this story was wonderfully done and I think the viewer gets a good sense of who her father wants you to see.

I gave content understanding a 9, because this father knew his daughter, how well can we truly know another person? One can assume that a father knows his daughter. But I think a father also sees the daughter he wants to see. And this is the view he shared with us… the daughter that he sees.

I gave the media application a 10 because it was a photo essay that was done very well. The photos are captivating and beautiful and provide a wonderful window into the world of this girl.

5 thoughts on “Digital Story Critique 5: Alison

  1. Hi Karen,
    A photo essay as a digital story is an interesting concept and I must admit it is one that I would have missed. Thanks! The black and white photos are quite beautiful and seem to capture Alison as she is, but only Alison knows for sure, as you indicated. The economic captions and short intro do indeed work and satisfied my curiosity concerning the story of Alison’s life, as told through her father’s eyes. Obviously, there is much more to Alison but this story is just the father’s perspective on it, or at least what he decided to share. Your critique is very in depth and I felt that you analyze it quite effectively. I have to wonder what Alison’s digital story might look like if the photos were recorded as a video with a narrator. It would be interesting to see both versions and afforded the opportunity to compare and contrast them. Nicely done Karen!


  2. Hi Karen,
    Thanks for sharing this story based on the photos of Alison. I’ve personally been looking for a good story based just on photos. It’s interesting for me to see this story and how well it tells a story with very few words.

    And it’s a very powerful story because it is a reflection of two important things. First is the life story of Alison. You can clearly see the changes and life stages that she is going through in the photographs. The early days of youth giving way into the rebelliousness of her teen years, and then moving on into adulthood and eventually her married life with Allen.

    The second thing that is so well reflected in this story is the father’s involvement in her life, and her willingness to let him photograph her in so many personal ways. She seems to be perfectly comfortable letting him photograph her with boyfriends.. And none of the photographs seem particularly staged.

    It is a story that has many of the components that we look for in a story such as narrative (her life story), conflict (teen rebellion), resolution (getting married), and emotional content. A very interesting and thoughtful story.


  3. Hi Karen,
    I really liked this this perspective on digital storytelling. It’s great to see how photos can tell the story or someone’s life and experience. I agree with you, that I would have loved to have more photos or information about Alison and her life. I also was surprised that there weren’t any photos of any significant events in her life like birthdays, graduations and her wedding. I wonder why her father chose the photos that he did, because it seems like the story he is telling about Alison isn’t really happy, so I would love to know the motive. I might have to find some photographic essays to explore next time. This is a really interesting perspective on digital storytelling.
    Thanks for opening my eyes!


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