Storytelling with Photographs Multimedia Storytelling Fall 2013
“A picture is worth a thousand words” • Coined in 1911 by newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane, of the Syracuse Post Standard • A complex idea can be conveyed with a single still image • Was and is still the main concept of visualization, with the main goal of making it possible to absorb large amounts of information quickly
Living in a visually centered society • New media and new communication platforms are created every day • Facebook (300 million/day – 200,000+/min) • Instagram (40 million/day) • Flickr (1.4 million/day)
Age of the visual journalist • Role of the journalist is changing • Evolution from specialized to backpack journalists • Every journalist = researcher, writer, photographer, videographer, print & web designer • Requires a new mindset, skillset and vision • New considerations when brainstorming story ideas
Choosing a good story idea • There is activity and/or people doing something observable (i.e. not a town hall meeting) • It is visually rich (i.e.lots of color, decoration, contrast, rhythm, motion, scenery, etc.) • There are lots of different situations taking place and/or a variety of interesting moments (i.e., not a bunch of different people repeating the same thing) • The idea is emotional • The subjects are rich in character/personality
Ethical considerations • Context: Accurate? • “If it bleeds it leads”: Necessary? • Victims of abuse: Identity necessary? • Children: Parental permission? • Right to privacy: Public vs. private • Stereotyping: Perpetuating a stereotype? • Image manipulations: No, no and no.
Preparing for a photo story shoot • Requires just as much research & forethought as writing a story • Shooting scripts: Prepare you for the content you expect to get • Storyboards can prepare you for the visual composition of your photographs
The shooting script • Life magazine would predict what photos it could expect in advance, pre-shoot, developing a shooting script/shot list • The script encouraged a photographer to prepare for what content they might come across while shooting, so that they could better find the unusual or unique pictures • Don’t force anything you script to happen:This is simply meant to prepare you for what mighthappen
Storyboarding • Storyboarding forces the photographer to visualize what each frame of their photo story will look like • Once you have your shooting script/shot list developed, you can then take the content you plan to gather for each photo and decide how you are going to visually place that content within the frame
But how do you create a great photo story? • Focus on capturing as much visual information as you can in each frame • Not every sequence or collection of pictures make a good story • There are specific formulas you can follow when you start shooting to make sure your pictures tell a good story • Life Magazine’s photo story formula • Poynter’s 5-shot sequence
Life’s 8-shot formula • An introductory shot or overall shot, such as a wide angle or an aerial. • A middle-distance or “moving in” shot, such as a sign, street, or building • A close-up, usually hands, face or detail. • A sequence, or how-to shot. • A portrait, usually environmental. • An interaction shot of persons conversing or action portrayed. • The signature picture- the decisive moment, the one picture that conveys the essence of the story. • The clincher or goodbye shot, signifying the end of the story.
Life’s Eugene Smith: “Country Doctor” • Life Magazine photographer Eugene Smith is credited for creating the magazine’s photo story formula • In his photo essay “Country Doctor,” where he profiles a small-town practitioner in the 1940s, each of the shot types described in the photo story formula can be found • Click here to view the essay in its entirety
Poynter: 5-shot sequence • Scene setter • Medium shot • Portrait • Detail • Action
Shot one: Scene setter • Where is your storytakingplace and what does it look like? • Place your audience in the action by taking a photo that shows it all.
Shot two: Medium shot • Hone in on your spot of action. • Show where your subjects are. • Thisshot narrows your story’s field of view and should bring you closer in.
Shot three: Portrait • Who is your main subject and what does he or she look like? • Places that person in their natural surroundings.
Shot four: Detail • What details can you find that give us more information about a story or a subject? • What details can you find that serve as a transition from one picture to the next?
Shot five: Action • What kinds of actions are your subjects involved in?
Maximizing the quality of frames • Each frame is an opportunity to organize visual information in the best way that tells the whole/part of the whole story • When shooting for a single image, focus on packing as much visual content relevant to the story within a single frame • When shooting a full photo story/audio slideshow, seek variety and transitions, too
Photography 101: General • Great photographers always consider the following when taking pictures: • Composition • Viewpoint/angles • Lighting • Motion • Direction • There are a variety of ways to approach each
Photography 101: Composition How each object is arranged in the frame • Rule of thirds • Layering • Balancing elements • Repetition • Framing