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Learning Log,  Research,  Talks, Webinars & Meets

October Tutorial – Narrative and Storytelling

It’s all in the edit: Narrative and storytelling


A great session with thought provoking discussion round how everything we do creates an edit, a story and/or a narrative.

We explored the process of creating work, and the thinking around the way the work is presented, the story you are trying to tell, or not tell. This can be down to the image framing, the selection of images, the edit of the photograph or the way it’s presented. Many aspects come into the storytelling of a piece of work.

There was also great discussion about the telling of other peoples stories, whether it is ethical to do so, whether permission is obtained or not, and whether the photographer portrays stories as would their subject, or whether they tell them differently as an outsider.


Taking a photo = editing :- editing out the world as much as including the frame. And then post-production.

Edits, do you plan it, or go with the flow?

Creativity isn’t just what we put in, it’s also what we leave out.

Leave time between shooting and editing. Don’t edit/cull in camera. Build that into timing of assignments. Leave time to go back to images.
Live with projects in progress. Small prints, dummy books etc.

Have a completion point. Have a body of work ready to edit.

Stay open to new ideas Challenge yourself with work you’re looing at, keep exploring.

Disappear down rabbit holes!


Is it the subject matter or how to present that’s most important?
What is the brief that dictates how you edit/present/cull your images? Do you have to re-shoot to fill a gap? Deadlines? Can’t reshoot due to light? Have to restrict your work due to constraints?

Write about this in your learning log as you produce the work. Docuemtn and learn from it.

Go with the flow:

Work without direction, one image leads to next.

Can be hard to shoot without a plan. May need time for it to come together.

Just start shooting and see where it goes.


Personal, scripted/constructed, linear/ geographical/chronological, visual (i.e colour), other.

Films, narrative structures, hero journeys, flash forwards and backwards.

Research: look at other photography books, the structure, is there more than one narrative going on?

Make notes when you look at work, was it planned or did it evolve during the editing project.


To use text or not? How do other projects use text? Research. Does it dictate the image or are they separate entities entirely.

Functions of Storytelling

Within the work, the work might not have a story to tell.

Story about the work, or the production of work.

Watch photography discussions on line and hear photographers talk about their work, listen to the narrative.

Books with narrative

For Most of It I have no Words, Simon Norfolk
Holocaust, Cambodia, difficult times, aftermath – uses text carefully to write about what happened. The images need the text for context.

Survivor – Harry Borden
Survivors of the Holocaust. Portrait work. Teamed with their story in their words. Then a biography at the end of the book for each person photographed.

Gregory Crewdson – Article and Video on An Eclipse of Moths
The creation of the images.

Hart Island – Melinda Hunt and Joel Sternfeld
Documentary about the island of mass graves. Story of the photographs, the island and the prisoners burying the people. Story and images are separate but together they are more powerful that the individual parts.

“Not every story is ours to tell”

Andrew Jackson

The ethics of stories and who is telling them. -I.e. Comic Relief now using local African story tellers over the sending in of white celebrities portrayed as ‘saving’ them.

“The Museum of Four in the Morning” Poet – Rivers.

Is it a sociology project, could a student do this if not photography? A sociology student for example? Would it be acceptable?

AOP Breakfast talks. Black Lives Matter – the ethics of people telling the story.

Andrew Jackson Blog

Bruce Guilden – New York Street photography – in your face and obvious

Nick Terpin – British Street photographer. “On the Night Bus” long lens, people on the buses with a long lens.

The discussion between discreet / unknown and purposeful

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