Exercise: A Narrative Picture Essay

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The narrative picture essay is a series of images which tell a story. We are all so used to trying to tell a story with one image sometimes we forget that a photo essay might be a more appropriate vehicle for telling the full story. I often do this on my personal blog when I come home from a trip (e.g. Whalesharks in Mexico). If there has been several discreet ‘chapters’ to my the story of my trip I might split them up into several blog posts and over the breadth of the trip across those (for example here, with my Namibia trip).

Image placement ,size and spacing becomes important in a picture essay. The images work differently when placed next to other images than in a standalone post. You can use size and order to emphasise certain aspects and shape the story. Captions are integral to most photo essays, linking the photos together to weave the story and give you greater insight to what is going on. The layout would be different depending on where & how the essay is to be displayed. I construct my blogs around my images but I try and shot my images to be standalone images for the most part. When you shoot for a story you find yourself taking context & linking shots which otherwise you might not take (or if you take them you might not normally choose to display them), but in the context of the story they can become the glue that hold the stand alone images together.

 

I actually went out into the Red Sea with the express intention of creating a photobook of my trip (for Solo photo book month). I had been to the Red Sea before, on the same boats in fact. So I knew what to expect. The types of shots to prepare for and most importantly I knew I wanted a photo book at the end of it. I found myself planning out the main story and then shooting to it rather than just my usual ‘street’ photography style of shoot what is interesting at the time. It was quite a challenge, the aim is to create 35 photos (or more) and text (if you want to) and put them in a PDF photobook all within 31 days! Also, because I’d planned it upfront, I was able to quiz my boat-mates throughout the week for some quotes on what they thought of the Red Sea to appear in my book.

The SoFoBoMo site (which has closed down now) had a size restriction on the file so I didn’t bother trying to print it because it’d look very crap. It’s been optimised for screen viewing and compressed to within an inch of its life to get it down to under 7mb. I was on a PC when I edited (not my Mac) so I used Microsoft publisher to layout which was pretty easy to use. I published to pdf but there wasn’t really any options on the pdf (security or document properties or anything) so I downloaded a free trial version of Adobe Acrobat 9 to edit my pdf properties. It was a very enjoyable process.

Here is my eBook.

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2 Comments to “Exercise: A Narrative Picture Essay”

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