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.

More Series & Sequence Ideas

Here are some additional concepts for sequence projects to inspire you

365—A Photo A Day For A Year: Take an image every day. It can be random, or it can follow a theme like "The daily gratitude project."

Take A Photo Every Hour: Make a record of your daily routine, creating an image to represent each hour of the day.

100 Strangers: Over the course of time approach strangers to photograph; this can be rewarding on so many levels.

Same Place, Different Time: Document a favorite spot and see how different it looks over the course of a day.

Self-Portraits Over A Year: Photograph yourself every single day from the same angle in the same position.

Time-Lapse: Photograph something that usually happens too slowly to see, like the sun setting or the tide coming in, and thread the images together in a video.

Pregnancy: Photograph each week as the baby grows.

Actionsampler: Lomo makes a camera called the Actionsampler with multiple lenses, which exposes the frames in sequence. Fun!

SHUTTER SISTERS is a collaborative photo blog ( and a thriving community of women, passionate about photography. Photographer and writer Xanthe Berkeley is a contributor to Shutter Sisters and also can be found online at

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