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Narrative

From: Foundations of Photography: Composition

Video: Narrative

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but depending on how you compose it, it may or may not tell a story. I am standing out here on the now-new shoreline of Lake Altus-Lugert, which is the lake right behind the Quartz Mountain Lodge. Oklahoma is in the middle of one of the worst droughts it's had in decades and normally, the water would be about 30 feet above my head. The lake is down to about 25% capacity and as it has receded, it's left a lot of dead fish. So we have been walking around seeing this dead fish, and they are just down to white skeletons. And they are very pretty objects.

Narrative

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but depending on how you compose it, it may or may not tell a story. I am standing out here on the now-new shoreline of Lake Altus-Lugert, which is the lake right behind the Quartz Mountain Lodge. Oklahoma is in the middle of one of the worst droughts it's had in decades and normally, the water would be about 30 feet above my head. The lake is down to about 25% capacity and as it has receded, it's left a lot of dead fish. So we have been walking around seeing this dead fish, and they are just down to white skeletons. And they are very pretty objects.

They have nice repetition in them. They cast nice shadows in the morning, light particularly when the sand itself has gotten real texturey. I can take a picture of one of these dead fish. It's kind of hard not to. They are pretty compelling. I might get something like this. Sure enough, that's a picture of a dead fish, and that's about it. It's not a particularly interesting picture. I could maybe go in closer and turn it into more of an abstract picture of a dead fish, but this is just a fish skeleton in sand. There's no real story here. If it wasn't on sand, it would probably be even less compelling.

It would just look like garbage that had fallen out of a trashcan or something. I can make one simple change though and really alter how this photo works. If I come around in front and take another picture, I get this. This is an image that has a little more narrative. I can see possibly that the shoreline has receded. Pair this with some words and I have a really solid story. Even on its own, it's got more of a story than just a fish in sand. This is a picture of a lake that is receding and leaving behind a lot of dead animals.

Sure, a lot of times narrative, strong narrative, requires you to shoot multiple shots of a location or an event or a person to build out an essay about them. But you want to try to work as much as possible within a single frame to give as much context as possible to try to build up narrative when it's appropriate.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Composition
Foundations of Photography: Composition

86 video lessons · 54211 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 12m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. Using this course
      7m 27s
    3. What you need to know
      2m 50s
  2. 2m 47s
    1. What is composition?
      2m 1s
    2. All form, all the time
      46s
  3. 12m 34s
    1. How your camera is not like your eye
      2m 52s
    2. Looking vs. seeing
      2m 25s
    3. Vision and attention
      2m 13s
    4. Dynamic range
      1m 59s
    5. Seeing exercises
      3m 5s
  4. 36m 48s
    1. What all good compositions have
      1m 8s
    2. Subject and background
      3m 5s
    3. Balance
      7m 20s
    4. Point of view
      3m 22s
    5. Simplicity
      2m 59s
    6. Finding and capturing a good photo
      2m 11s
    7. Working the shot: Why one is never enough
      6m 41s
    8. Practicing
      3m 24s
    9. Why black and white?
      2m 21s
    10. Exercise: Practicing the fundamentals with points
      4m 17s
  5. 41m 48s
    1. Lines
      7m 7s
    2. Analyzing lines
      6m 35s
    3. Exploring a town
      4m 7s
    4. The Franklin Hotel
      2m 7s
    5. Shapes
      10m 13s
    6. Repetition: Arranging the elements
      1m 37s
    7. Rule of threes
      1m 36s
    8. Perspective
      1m 47s
    9. Symmetry
      1m 10s
    10. Focal length, camera position, and depth
      2m 27s
    11. Intersections
      1m 41s
    12. Exercise: Practicing fundamentals with geometry
      1m 21s
  6. 10m 38s
    1. Working a shot, revisited
      3m 21s
    2. Understanding the photographic impulse
      2m 58s
    3. Warming up
      2m 16s
    4. Exercise: Get your feet moving
      2m 3s
  7. 35m 7s
    1. Thirds: How rectangular frames are weighted
      2m 20s
    2. Tonal balance
      3m 52s
    3. Content balance
      1m 20s
    4. Squares: Weighting the corners
      2m 24s
    5. Composing people
      3m 42s
    6. Composing landscapes
      3m 53s
    7. Sometimes you can't get the shot
      1m 12s
    8. Practicing thirds with points and geometry
      1m 45s
    9. Practicing squares with points and geometry
      1m 12s
    10. Image analysis: The work of Steve Simon
      13m 27s
  8. 19m 6s
    1. It's the light
      1m 50s
    2. Direction of light
      8m 30s
    3. Texture
      2m 7s
    4. Shadows and negative space
      1m 19s
    5. Exposure concerns
      2m 44s
    6. Keeping one eye on post
      58s
    7. Light as subject
      1m 38s
  9. 18m 59s
    1. Introducing the workshop location and instructors
      1m 2s
    2. Assignment: Finding light
      5m 17s
    3. Shooting the light
      3m 14s
    4. Critiquing the light assignment
      9m 26s
  10. 22m 11s
    1. The basics of color
      1m 4s
    2. When to shoot color
      3m 56s
    3. How to shoot color
      2m 47s
    4. Practicing color composition
      1m 4s
    5. Image analysis: The work of Paul Taggart
      13m 20s
  11. 16m 48s
    1. Entry and exit
      5m 41s
    2. Framing
      2m 17s
    3. Examining the composition of this set
      2m 28s
    4. Narrative
      1m 55s
    5. When the scene doesn't fit in the frame
      3m 13s
    6. Guiding the viewer's eye
      1m 14s
  12. 13m 36s
    1. Assignment: Foreground and background
      3m 4s
    2. Shooting foreground and background relationships
      2m 19s
    3. Critiquing the foreground and background assignment
      8m 13s
  13. 34m 24s
    1. Planes
      5m 13s
    2. Controlling depth
      4m 54s
    3. Juxtaposition
      2m 58s
    4. Fear
      4m 3s
    5. Layers
      55s
    6. Image analysis: The work of Connie Imboden
      16m 21s
  14. 41m 21s
    1. Recomposing an image with the Crop tool
      7m 23s
    2. Resizing an image
      8m 9s
    3. Tone
      8m 54s
    4. Altering the perspective in Photoshop
      4m 38s
    5. Changing composition through retouching
      6m 16s
    6. Vignetting to drive attention
      6m 1s
  15. 10m 22s
    1. Workshop wrap-up and exhibition
      3m 13s
    2. Workshop students' final thoughts
      7m 9s
  16. 1m 0s
    1. Final thoughts
      1m 0s

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