- [Steve] Hey everybody. I'm Steve Simon, The Passionate Photographer. And welcome to a new edition of Photo Critique of the Week. And this week, we're going to talk a little bit about storytelling. You know, photography is a powerful way to tell a story. Really, nothing communicates faster. And this whole idea of a picture's worth a thousand words is because the strong pictures can communicate very, very quickly kind of complex stories. And we're going to look at some images this week that were made on a recent workshop that I did in Tokyo, Japan.
And here's some storytelling images that I thought we would deconstruct and see what we could learn from, in terms of these images. So, let me just go in here. This first image by Ed Yiu, very simple. Very simple. Two people on a boat. Obviously, it's getting dark and it looks like Ed has darkened the corners there. And I think that immediately, you kind of understand what's going on. It's a couple, they're in a boat. I mean, you don't really know what's going on in terms of whether they're looking at a phone.
Are they having an intimate conversation? But you get a sense that it is a couple. You know, they're very close. Obviously, the physical proximity, the fact that they're on a boat. It looks kind of sunset-ish, and I think that the story is there. And everyone's going to interpret it in a slightly different way. Very, very simple picture and it's the gesture too. When you sort of look at their heads down and the fact that they're so close together, that is also communicating and letting you know a little bit about who's there. Similar sort of couple scenario. And, you know, this couple in this photograph by Norm Saari, sitting, enjoying the view.
You can't see their faces. All you see is sort of glimpses of their faces. You can see that the focus is on them. You've got this sort of bouquet of out of focus area that gives you a sense of place at this park in Japan. You can see it's a very nice conversation because even though you can't see his face, you can tell from the side here that he's smiling. And even though you completely can't see her face, you can still tell that she's smiling. There's so much information that's being communicated so quickly, and because the image is so nicely composed, you get to sort of understand a lot very, very fast.
And that's the power of what still photography can do. Speaking of a more complex story being told, you know, this gentleman that's carrying this big, heavy weight. This picture, this is the only one that's not from Tokyo. It's from Vietnam, I believe, by Andrew Reeves. And there's a lot going on here. There's a lot, and by storytelling, I think, you get a sense of what it feels like to be in that environment. It looks like a foggy, probably the morning. It looks a little bit cold and it looks a little bit damp. It looks difficult, you know. I mean, he's carrying this heavy stuff.
The moment is right, in terms of, he's the foreground, but the storytelling comes a lot from the environment here. You can see people are in a hurry. They're going somewhere, probably to work. He's obviously working as well. I think the black and white really kind of helps to cut to the content of what's going on here. And there's really kind of-- The story is kind of the place and the environment. It's not a specific story. Here, in this other photo, also in Vietnam by Andrew Reeves, there's a lot going on here, again.
And I think that in order for the picture to really communicate so quickly and tell the story, you have to have so much going on. You have to have the composition right. You have to have the moment right. This is very powerful. You can see that this woman is struggling to sort of keep this stick with all the balloons on it. You can see the intensity in their faces. The gesture, the hands and the grip, they're both holding. She has got a tighter grip than he does here, but he'll probably win out in terms of this particular fight.
You can see that she's shifting her whole weight there. I mean, there's a lot being communicated here. And then, life is going on in the background. This is a very kind of intense moment caught at the right time, and it's a very kind of powerful story. And these are, by story I mean little vignettes that are being told. But immediately, you understand it. And I think it all comes back right here. This is the main focal point, and it's just a little above the center, which compositionally, really works. And it's a very, very powerful moment.
Sometimes, it's the subtlety that tells a picture. And when you look at this image by Lyn Reeves taken in Tokyo, you can see that perhaps the most important real estate in this entire shot are the eyes here. And even though the view is kind of on the side, you understand immediately that she's kind of looking over here at the window. And the moment is great, but it's this part of the image which you immediately see when you look at this picture that is there to kind of really tell a more powerful story, in that she's kind of looking in the window and she maybe wants that, or she likes it, or she doesn't, who knows.
But the story is being told. This connection between her, her own thoughts, and the world around her is being told in a very kind of simple and very quick way. And it's really just about this part here. But in order to be able to tell these stories, the composition has to be very successful. It could be complex, but less is often more. And the more simple the composition, the more direct and quick the story is being told. Here's another example of what I think is a storytelling image in the sense that this woman is obviously leading a tour in Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, and the people behind look like they're tourists.
I mean, there's your standard equipment, hip sack, I guess, that he's carrying. This woman is great. I mean, she's just confident, strong, doing her thing and that's being told. I think in this one image the photographer's captured part of her personality. And I don't know this woman, but I bet if we met her, chances are my judgment of her, my thinking of who she is would probably be realized to a certain extent, and that's, again, the power of photography. So amongst all that's going on, I think the most important things here are her, and then, this guy here, as being sort of the representative for the tourists.
She is sort of the leader. And then, there is the place and the fact that the focus is on her is really important. Compositionally, you sort of go between the two, and then, you sort of circle around. But there's a story being told in this picture. This image by Don Dillon tells also a very kind of modern story, if you will, in that these kids, they have a baseball. They have a ball, a baseball bat and ball. But what are they doing? They're kind of on their devices. They're together but separate.
And this is kind of a powerful, iconic picture when you think about technology and how that's going to affect sort of future generations as we come up. Because I think a lot of parents can understand that, yeah, you want to kind of limit this and there's no substitute. You're still human and you want to be out there and playing. I think there's kind of a powerful story being told here, and you get it, you know. The first thing you look at is these kids concentrating, the synchronicity. But then, you see the bat and the ball.
And then, you know, that takes you in the next chapter of what this picture is saying. And it's again, very quickly, you kind of understand the story. Here too, another image by Don Dillon. You know, this image is also very simple. You get a sense that the friend is taking a picture of this girl because she's maybe got a crush on that guy, because she's making this sort of heart with her fingers. The story is told and very, very quickly, and that's immediately when you see the image. That's very powerful and that's what photography, great photography, good photography, that's what it does.
Mare Gill tells a more descriptive story. This picture is really just doing what photography does and capture a literal representation of the reality in front of you. But the reality happens to be Shinagawa Station, one of the busiest stations in the world, and this sea of humanity. And that's all it is, the story is told. A story is told. People everywhere, you know, going to work. Everyone's in their own head. I think you can sort of look at this entire picture and study it and probably see there's no communication between any of these people.
They're all just sort of walking forward. And that's really kind of interesting. The fact is that there's a lot going on in this photo. Some photos, you get it immediately and others you can really spend some time when there's a lot of detail in the image. And then, lastly, this image by Frances Bruchez is a little bit different in the sense that the story that's being told, I think, is up to the individual that looks at this picture. You can see that it's sort of using a panning movement and a slow shutter speed, so there's nothing really blurred, but you do have the illusion of movement.
And then, you've got this bird. For me, it kind of represents a little bit of a dream, a little bit, you know, freedom, bird flying, how quickly life is going by. I mean, there's a lot of things that I look at in this image, and I go into my own mind, and I tell myself a story, I make up a story. And I think that that's a powerful way to photograph in a lot of ways, because often, the images that are the strongest are the ones that maybe don't tell the whole story, but allow the viewer to kind of rattle around in their own brain, in terms of the interpretation of that image.
So, it's just great to sort of deconstruct these things and realize though that these pictures that storytell are not easy ones to get, and there's a lot involved. Not only in the moment, but the composition and the aperture, how much you have in focus. And all of these things come into play but when the planets align, you get an image that really does tell a story. Well, that's it for this week. Thanks very much and I hope that you'll join me on the next edition of Photo Critique of the Week.
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