Crazy, I know, but… it’s the 8th of our 12 weeks of Artful Summer!
Art Idea #8 – If 1 is good, 12 is better!
Last week we noted that photos tell stories. Our headshots weren’t really “stories,” they were sort of proof-of-life. But our Environmental Portraits went a little deeper into who we are. Those Environmental Portraits were non-fiction images.
This week we’re creating Photo Stories. A series of 8-15 images that tell a story. Your story can be fiction or non-fiction. Your choice.
Your non-fiction story can be a document of something.
- Your grandfather the tax accountant. What’s his life like? Does he work with clients through email and Zoom during the pandemic? Or meeting people with masks in his office? You can create a photo story that shows some of the moments of his day. His F2F meeting with a masked client, or gramps on Zoom with a client.
- Your pandemic or post-pandemic day. Are you in all day? Have you “reopened” and gone back into the world? However you’re handling this moment, documenting this can be meaningful and valuable for your future self. And one day your grandkids will marvel at how things were back in 2021!
- And so on! There’s an endless list of things you can document with 8-15 photographs.
Instead of creating a non-fiction photo story, you can make something up. You can cast yourself, or your family, or friends in any story you want to tell.
It also doesn’t have to be people. You could tell a day in your dog’s life. Your Dog Story could be fiction or non-fiction. You might try to accurately depict how your dog lives. Or you might be a bit more whimsical, imagining your dog as a superhero and the Mail Carrier as an evil alien invader.
If you happen to have a “real” camera that’s a nice bonus. Most of us will use cell phones which is fine. Either way, take your time to compose each photo in your story. If you go to a big march or rally, you’ll mostly be documenting what you see there. Try to use different camera angles:
- High angle
- Low angle
- Close up
- Wide shot
- “Reverse angle” – when you have more than one image a simple but powerful thing you can do is to show reactions. If a Police Reform Protester is interacting with a Police Officer, you might get that in a single wide photograph. If you have a chance to get close, you can also show body language or facial expressions. If your tiny dog is barking ferrociously at a much bigger dog, again, the juxtaposition of their sizes in a single frame can be powerful, but you can also have a close image looking down on your tiny dog and a close image looking up on the big dog.
Your photos should have captions. Two sentences are enough. Or, if you’re inspired, you could write more. For non-fiction, your two sentences should answer The 5 W’s:
- Why & How
You can focus your first sentence on the facts of the first 4 W’s: who’s in the photo, what’s going on, when and where was it taken? Your 2nd sentence can cover the Why & How. Explain what we’re looking at. Not every caption has to be unique for non-fiction. You can repeat information if it’s the same in 2 frames.
If your photo story is a fictional story, your captions can be more free form. You might still like to do the 5 W’s if it’s relevant to the way you want to tell your story. But for a fictional story, it might be nice to write narrative captions that guide your viewer-readers along. Your captions might be your dog’s inner monologue as s/he’s going through the day.
- You don’t need to answer questions about your project this week. Instead, try to make a nice, finished Photo Story that stands on it’s own and can be appreciated by anyone who reads it.
- Name your Blog Post: Week 8 – Art Activity – Photo Story
We live in a visual world. (duh!) I’m sure you know the value of video. It’s well worth mastering! But video is time-based. Maybe I don’t want to watch a 5 or 10 or 30-minute video. A photo story is random access and viewer-paced. I can go through your 15 images in 15 seconds or 15 minutes. It depends on what I’m interested in. I can also look at the first 5 images in 5 seconds and then stare at image #6 for longer because it fascinates me, or because it’s important for my role in our work project.
Whether you’re an Industrial Designer, a Dancer, a Sociologist, a Health Care Administrator, an Astronautical Engineer, a Fashion Merchandiser, or a Psychologist, we all have the need to communicate and tell stories. Sometimes storytelling can be a much more engaging way of getting information out. Remember that just because we’re working on a project, and we’re professionals, and we’re getting paid, bored people still don’t retain much. Whatever you have to communicate, if it can be engaging, you will communicate much more effectively.
By mastering the Photo Story you will add one more technique to your Professional Communications Toolkit that you can use to achieve project goals and advance your career.
Our artists this week are Lynsey Addario, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. I know that sounds like 3 artists, but Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller work together as a team. Addario and Cardiff-Miller both tell stories. Addario tells non-fiction stories. Cardiff-Miller tell fiction stories. Addario is a photojournalist. Cardiff-Miller work extensively with sound. They have created a number of “Sound Walks.” Sometimes those sound walks include a series of physical photos, and other times the space itself provides the imagery. Some of their walks are Sound Walks, and some are Video Walks. Disney Hall in DTLA has a very cool Cardiff-Miller free video-walk that you can take.
- Describe Lynsey Addario’s work
- Describe Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller’s work
- Describe the ways in which Addario’s and Cardiff-Miller’s work is similar
- Describe the ways in which Addario’s and Cardiff-Miller’s work is different
- Addario’s work is honest and often difficult. Cardiff-Miller’s work can be deep and contemplative, but it is more whimsical than Addario’s. Is the gritty edge of real-world stories more important that whimsy and inner-monologues? Do whimsical mind explorations fulfill some deep human need? Or are they merely amusing? Explain.
- If you decided to pick up cameras and microphones and pursue a career in storytelling, would you prefer a career like Addario’s? Or like Cardiff-Miller’s. Explain.
- Name your post: Week 8 – Artist – Addario-Cardiff-Miller
Have a good week! Be safe. Be well.
LMK if I can help with anything. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or LMK if you’d like to meet up on Zoom anytime.