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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stories Through Sequence

By Xanthe Berkeley Of Shutter Sisters Published in Point Of Focus
Stories Through Sequence
One photo can tell a story. The elements within the frame convey feelings through composition, light, texture and color. But, for me, sometimes one image is just the beginning. I've always been interested in how you can tell a story through a sequence or series of images, a "sequence" being a group of images taken in succession and a "series" being a collection with similar composition or related content. So if you imagine one frame is just the start, how can you make the photos that join it tell more of the story? Gathering and creating a series or sequence can open your eyes to more possibilities.


Movement. When I see movement through my lens—significant movement, like my son doing kicks with a football or a little girl twirling—I shoot in bursts to capture all stages of the motion itself. I then can tell this story by threading a few images together in diptych or triptych, or even making a GIF animation so the movement can be seen.

Change. When planning to take an extended time-lapse series, consider location, composition and even the light that will eventually show the same subject matter over a longer period of time.

It takes extra thought and careful preparation. I began doing this with my sons. At the end of every summer, I shoot a close-up portrait of them, with the same background. Through the series you can really see the passage of time and the wonderment of change.

Consider a series of the beautiful form of a pregnant woman and then re-create the shot with the newborn. In a series like this, the viewer can see the depth of the journey a mother has made, right there in the frames.


Subject. A series led just by the subject matter, like taking shots of just your feet in different places, is another way of adding a reoccurring component to your work. My feet series highlights my location, those who are with me, often the weather and what I am wearing—a record of my life told through a consistent content element.

Finite Time. When it comes to simple everyday activities or a specific event, you can devise a conscious plan to record a story over a short period of time. I call these "Time Capsules," and they're a gathering of photos shot in a finite amount of time: your day, an event, a special occasion. The key is to take note and capture all of the little details and moments of that event. In the end, you have a clear picture of that occasion as seen through a series of images. You then can package them up into a collage, a photo slideshow, an album—whatever best expresses your creative intention.

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