How a sequence of photos can be more than the sum of its parts. Todays photographers approach their craft in a multitude of ways, and with so many millions of people at it, theres a sizeable support group for every interest, from iPhoneography to expressive, humanitarian, or collaborative photography. Narrative is one such popular area, and there is a new interest in making coherent photo stories. Using Michaels own work, and that of many other great photographers, this unique book will show how classic photo stories are shot and edited, and give aspiring photojournalists and hobbyists alike a wealth of ideas to unlock the potential of their most powerful storytelling tool: their camera.
Amazon Exclusive Content: The Photographer’s Story
Michael Freeman’s Letter to Amazon readers:
Everyone’s interested in stories. We read them in books and magazines, watch them at the movies and on television, listen to them over a meal with friends, and tell them ourselves. Deep down, it’s the prime entertainment, and always has been. Not surprising then, that so many photographers want to know how to do it with their images. Aiming for the stand-alone great shot is one thing – and yes, it’s probably the supreme challenge in photography – but storytelling with photographs involves much more. It can, and should, include the great shots, but it also needs to do things like carry a narrative, and above all keep the audience watching the show or turning the pages.
How do you do it? That means how exactly, not how vaguely. It’s never enough to put down a selection of favourite pictures and say, ‘they tell a story’. What story? Is it told well? Does it keep people looking, and following the thread? This is what this book is about, and it’s a subject very close to my heart.
The reason why I’m close to it – and frankly why most of my professional photographer friends are close to it – is that it’s the core skill of being an editorial photographer. All my working life I’ve been on assignment for one client or another, and the assignments have nearly always been a story. The magazine calls and says ‘we’re running a story on this – can you shoot it?’, or ‘here’s the writer’s text; can you make this work?’ And then it starts, the by-now very familiar process of research, logistics, fixing, shooting, sorting out problems, worrying about how it’s going, and the missing shot that I really need, and have we got there yet? During the shoot, it all feels badly unfinished, until there’s a moment and suddenly you realise you really did just take the last shot, and it ties the story up one and for all. This is not at all a good moment, even though you’ve been trying to reach it for a long time, because all of a sudden it’s over. I love all of this, of course, and now I think it’s time to write about it and break the whole thing down and show how, exactly, photo stories happen.
The Photographer’s Story: Additional images
The Photographer’s Story was a very different book to do because of the sheer number of images. Each of the stories featured itself needed between a dozen and 20 images, and we also wanted to show how the images related to each other, in layouts and in slideshows. Yet at the same time the length of the book is fixed, so the danger was running pictures too small to be worth looking at. In the end we developed some design solutions that I’m pleased with, including ways of showing the structure of a slideshow — in print. There’s so much that goes on in a slideshow that even the conventional storyboarding methods used in film and television weren’t enough. Anyway, the net result on the picture selection was that we had to drop a large number of images, which couldn’t be helped. So here are some of the images from the Elephant story described on pages 62-63. These are not out-takes – they play a key role in telling the story of the Thai elephant today.
Click here to see the Elephant Story in full
Michael Freeman’s Top Ten
I’ve been asked to list the top ten ‘must haves’ in professional editorial shooting. Everyone likes lists, but the trouble is, the really important things are dead obvious, like the camera and stuff, but it’s not very interesting to read about, is it? Here some more things:
Frequently Bought Together
This item: The Photographer's Story: The Art of Visual Narrative£15.10
Storytellers: A Photographer's Guide to Developing Themes and Creating Stories with Pictures (Voices That Matter)£26.69