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Narrative Photography

Updated on September 2, 2013
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Narrative photography can be interpreted in several ways. The more traditional one is to show or capture images that focus on one or several subjects and "tells" a story via photography.

Another alternative is to take several photographs of various subjects that each tells a story; in other words , the images narrate something about the subjects to form one main story-line.

A better way which takes some collaboration is to assign several photographers specific subject matter and each photographer collects images that when put together with all of the other photographer's images tell a complete and comprehensive story that ties all of the images together, or each story can be a separate narrative that when put together form several different narratives; like mini movies to make one big movie.

"NARRATIVES, visual short stories, was a challenging collaborative project whereby each photographer in the group began a visual narrative, and sent that image along to the next assigned photographer, who would in turn add to the visual short story. The end result was six separate narratives, each having six separate images. "

One thing to consider is the subject matter. Not all subjects or situations are useful for this project. One of the better subjects to cover are large scale sporting events or just large events. The Olympic games and political conventions are two great examples as are rallies, demonstrations, large scale weather events such as hurricanes other and similar occurrences.

The scale of these makes it almost an impossibility for just one photographer to cover properly. Having several contributors not only adds different perspectives but opens up the possibility of capturing all worthwhile moments as well as minimizing the chances of missing key scenes.

However, just because this project is best suited for a collaborative setting does not mean that it has to be done this way or done for large events only. Parties, book signings, store openings, local festivals are just some of the many other smaller sets that can be used.

Like with many photographic projects, there are variations . One good theme to follow is to agree on a general consensus in regards to the subjects and the themes. Then one photographer takes an image, this image is then used by the following photographer to build upon the next image. The results are several distinct and individual images but which follow one clear pattern and showcase one main theme.

As far as presentations, here again you can apply several variations. One good one is to put all images in sequence; from first to last in what looks like a thumbnail of many. The same applies if using only one subject.

This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. | Source

A simpler way of looking into this project is to pretend that you and some friends go to the movies to see a brand new blockbuster film. In the start of the movie you have to step out to take care of some business, buy snacks, or you just had to leave. Later you ask your friends to tell you what happened.

Each of your friends tells you what happened as they remembered , but they do so in short synopsis of the major scenes. At the end you have a pretty good idea of the plot, the scenes and the conclusion as well as other tidbits.

This is very similar to what narrative photography attempts to do as well and the photographers add their own perspectives to the images because they capture what to them are poignant or important themes that will form the narrative.


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lynn: just stick to the main points and it should be fine and thanks

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

      I need to figure out how to do that without making it look like a picture instead of a photograph.