Week 11: Response & Reflection

The article I chose Everyday Storytelling Through Photography is another “how to” type article for using photography to tell your story.

Much like all other advice for creating your story, the author recommends making a plan. From a photography standpoint, this means thinking about 4 types of photographs: wide, atmospheric, details, and portraits. Essentially it’s all about what images have some sort of memory inducing quality, whether it’s the setting, details, or a person, that’s what you will focus your photography on.

The second piece of advice is to be present. The author stresses that photography shouldn’t take the place of the experience, it should go along side of it. This totally makes sense. If you spend too much time taking photos, then you are capturing a memory of something you really aren’t experiencing.

The next step is to tell you story. You do this by going through your photos and selecting the ones that elicit a memory or a feeling.

This is a very short and simple article, but provides some good advice for using photos to tell your story.

This article is an excerpt from a class on this topic. You can access the class here Lifestyle Photography:Everyday Storytelling in Photo & Print

At this point, I’d like to highlight another article I was reading through – Storytelling Photography Considered Harmful. I was originally going to write about this article, but found it to be a bit in the weeds for me. The basic premise of the article is that photography, by itself, is not a proper tool for storytelling because it cannot accurately depict a narrative (or rarely does so without some type of manipulation), where a narrative is a se. Part of the problem with using a photograph to tell a story is the lack of context. The viewer tends to fill in that context based on their own experiences. This means that the story isn’t really being told, but being perceived. The author used the example of the V-J Day in Times Square. Just looking at this picture doesn’t really tell the details of why this sailor is kissing this woman. One person might view it as a romantic gesture while another might see it as sexual assault. So, the author points out that photographs need context in order to tell their story. I bring this up because as I think about my final project, I plan to use photographs, but I’ll also want to use text to help tell the story behind the photographs.

5 thoughts on “Week 11: Response & Reflection

  1. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for sharing these two articles. Kind of the Ying and the Yang of using photographs to tell a story. I found both of them to be very interesting and helpful because I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to create my own digital story using photographs. And I think it’s going to be especially hard because I want to tell a story the goes over a number of years.

    The Everyday Storytelling… article was good because it reminded me of one of the most important aspects of taking photographs in that the photos should be parallel to the story. If I’m taking the photos, I’m not living the story, I’m just recording it. And I liked that Rubin shared the four types of shots in any story: Wide, Atmospheric, Details, and Portraits. An easy to use guide for how to stage the story.

    And Mark Meyer’s article on the dangers of thinking that a photo tells a narrative was also very helpful as I consider setting up my story. I thought he made some very good points about how we tend to fill in a narrative based on our own experiences, assumptions, etc. The importance of creating the timeline/narrative/plot using photos, written words accompanying the story, or voice-over was made very clear in his article.

    Thanks again for sharing.



  2. Hello,
    I love that you’re sharing articles about photography storytelling. I had no idea that there were different categories of photographs, certainly not four of them, but it makes a lot of sense. There is a lot of good information here. There is so much you can piece together just by looking at the context of one photograph and to be able to master that practice would be amazing!


  3. Great article! I have been thinking a lot about photography, specifically its use in creating a robust narrative. I agree with the author that photography does not replace ones presence in an experience, yet the memories a photograph triggers are irreplaceable. I quite agree with the message of the second article you mentioned as well. Although photographs have a deep personal meaning to those who were participating, the use of photography in a story, and its possibility of presenting a universal message often requires a written presentation in order to be successful for the author’s message. Thank you for choosing this article, great work 🙂


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