Narrative Photography

Narrative Photography by James PeggieStorytelling has been an ongoing aspect of modern human’s social interactions.  Important events and historical information has been passed on this way through the years and centuries.  Storytelling is part of being human.

A series of events occurring over a period of time makes up a narrative.  These events are connected and constructed in the narrative.  Events can be influenced by what has happened in the past as well as what is currently happening.  The potential occurrence of future events may also play a role.

Narratives can be observations by more that one individual.  They may all have their own viewpoint and ideas about the events.  Differing viewpoints, arguments and debate may dictate the course of the narrative.  The traditional linear narrative takes the form of an introduction, body and end while non traditional narratives may adjust items such as the timeline of events.

Photographers should aim to understand the context of the events and ensure the optimum research has been done so that all important elements are included. Things that should be considered by photographers relating to a narrative include: issues, events, characters, plot, setting, context and time.  Emotion also plays an important role in narrative.  This is fairly easy to comprehend if its a video or film….but harder for photography.

A photograph occurs in a split second in time and so a series of photographs or a photographic essay is often what makes up the narrative.  These can also be adapted into video or film.

An individual photograph can be a narrative – but it can also be an enigma – the viewer has to figure out the story – or indeed make one up.  There is often no definitive narrative.  We can use the viewers perceived perceptions to build the narrative.  Clues in the photo can be essential as photographs are quickly consumed and are evaluated emotionally.  This means they can quickly pass on a message and turn attention on to a subject.