These initial photos will function in a similar way to the introductory paragraph in a written essay or news article. From there, you should consider further developing your narrative by introducing elements like portraiture, close ups, detail shots, and a carefully selected final photo to leave the viewer with the feeling you set out to produce in your photos.
Consider your opening and closing images to be the most important elements of your photo essay, and choose them accordingly. Including different types of photos, shot at different ranges, angles, and perspectives, can help engage your viewer and add more texture to your series.
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Self-doubt can easily come into play when working with your own photography. The adage that we are our own worst critics is often true. It can be difficult to objectively select your strongest images when creating a photo essay. This is why putting together photo essays is such a useful practice for developing your curatorial skills.
Your own perception of a photograph can cloud your ability to judge whether or not it adds to your photo essay. This is especially true when your essay deals with personal subjects. For example, a photo essay about your family may be hard to evaluate, as your own feelings about family members will impact how you take and view the photos. This is where getting feedback from peers can be invaluable to producing a strong series. Their opinions can be your guide, not just your own emotions. Can the photos stand alone, without written words, and tell the story you set out to?
Do they make sense together, in a logical sequence? A good method to use to cull your images down is to remove as many as half of your images straight away to see if your narrative is still as strong with fewer photos. This will help position your work and can enable the viewer to fully understand your intention, or at least guide their perspective.
A solid written statement and title will be relevant to your topic, detail your primary objective, and introduce your point of view. For his photo essay White Fences, excerpted above, Taylor Dorrell wrote only one sentence of introduction. The series was started in response to the shooting of Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black man, by officer Ray Tensing of the University of Cincinnati Police, which happened July 19th, Our App.
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Great Photographic Essays From Life by Maitland Armstrong Edey
ISBN: ISBN Release Date: October Publisher: Little, Brown and Company. Length: Pages. Weight: 3. Dimensions: 8. Customer Reviews.
Write a review. Amazing Photography and History Published by Thriftbooks. This book profiles all of the Life's photographers and showcases their best work. It has lots of full page pictures. There are many amazing photos that I have never seen before. It's great for people who like photography, history, or both. Published by Thriftbooks.
This book was a birthday gift to my daughter, but the whole family is enjoying the artistic expression of the Life photographers. I like clean and simple layouts. I think that's what really works. Do the editors or the art directors who assign you the story ever tell you how you should shoot it or what you should emphasize?
It's very unusual, but I'd hate it if an editor told me how to shoot a story because then I'd feel like an illustrator. I want to have the freedom to go out and shoot what I see and interpret it my own way. But it's very inspiring and useful to discuss a story with a photo editor before you start to shoot. A great photo editor is an ally and can have wonderful ideas that will help you with your story.
Peter Howe at Life , for example, is very helpful and supportive, as are several others. I usually have a very positive relationship with photo editors--they want the pictures to be great too. What are your favorite kinds of assignments? What are the subjects and people and places that you most like? The kind of assignment I like is one that has the possibility of a visual impact that interests me.
That's a hard question, because what I consider visual can be abstract. Why don't I talk about different kinds of pictures that are in this book?
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Ethiopia was really important to me because I felt that those photographs should have a lasting visual impression. It was more than a news event, it really symbolized something horrific that was happening to mankind in our century, and could happen again and again--and I felt people needed to see those images. The opposite emotional extreme would be something like the street performers in India, which have a sense of whimsy and craziness, a magic and mystery that I thought could be beautiful.
It says something about my fascination with and love of India. If a subject has strong, active content I use 35mm. It's a different sort of reality. In fact, it has made me a better 35mm photographer. How do you approach photographing an assignment? It depends upon the story. With Ethiopia I just went and took the photographs because they were there--they existed, and it was an incredible experience. I always prefer to spend a long period of time in one place. In Ethiopia I chose just to go to the same camp rather than to travel here and there.
I made two trips to one camp, so I knew the people there. That way when you see someone you want to photograph you can think about it and take pictures you feel are important. You make more of a personal investment that way. The stories from the Philippines and Zimbabwe were classic photojournalism assignments for the London Sunday Times Magazine. I spent several weeks in both countries, and as you spend time you get clues as to how your story is going to evolve. One thing leads to another. Before I begin a project, I also do a lot of research. But in a situation like Ethiopia, or the home for the dying in Calcutta, in circumstances that would be overwhelming in a lot of ways--visually, emotionally, psychologically--how do you know where to start?
You just go in and start. It is overwhelming, and the older I get the more overwhelming it becomes. That's why my current work on the Indian circus is a relief because it's not about confronting something that is so terribly emotionally overwhelming and depressing, but is more about the magic and whimsy of the circus, and my love for India.
I immediately try to make a relationship with the people I'm photographing, so I'm not an anonymous person to them. Within the relief camp of Korem in Ethiopia, I photographed the same places every day. There were maybe forty different tents where people were living and dying; I confined my photographs to three tents. I'd go back every day and see the same people. This kind of personal contact in some ways makes it easier for me to deal emotionally with difficult subjects--but it also makes it harder for me to leave.
Leaving Ethiopia was especially difficult. Do you try to be an objective observer in situations you are photographing? Is this possible? No, I don't think you're ever an objective observer. By making a frame you're being selective, then you edit the pictures you want published and you're being selective again. You develop a point of view that you want to express. You try to go into a situation with an open mind, but then you form an opinion, and you express it in your photographs. It is very important for a photographer to have a point of view--that contributes to a great photograph.
Your photographs are graphically very simple, very resolved, but they are emotionally very powerful. What I'm trying to do is to make photographs that are universally understood, whether in China or Russia or America--photographs that cross cultural lines.
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So if the project is about street performers, it touches those little things and whimsies we're all interested in--animals and people and anthropomorphic qualities. If it's about famine in Ethiopia, it's about the human condition all over the world: it's about people dying in the streets of New York as much as it's about Ethiopia.
I want my photographs to be about the basic emotions and feelings that we all experience. Do you consciously develop some sort of narrative in your story? Something with a beginning, middle,and end? I don't do that. I always think of the single image. One thing I always hope for is that I have a photograph that is so powerful it can open the story, but then I want everything else to be very strong also. So I think about a narrative only in the hope that I will have several pages of individually strong photographs.
But the story does begin to take shape in your mind. It takes shape, definitely.
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You're trying to show all the different aspects of a strong subject, you're giving your impression of what you see. For example, in Zimbabwe I was hoping to give the impression of what that country was like. It suddenly had a new government. What was it like to be white in Zimbabwe? What was it like to be black in Zimbabwe? What kind of research do you do before you go off on assignment?
The major research I do is to find contacts who can help me where I'm working.
For example, when I photographed the ethnic communities in Sydney, Australia, for National Geographic. That way I could spend all my time on location doing photographs rather than researching on a telephone in my hotel room. How many assistants do you usually take? It varies. For most of the stories published in this book there were no assistants. I started working with assistants only a few years ago, but they are a great help, and whenever possible I work with one. Sometimes I hire a local person to help, but I prefer to work with the same person over a long period of time. On big commercial assignments--advertising or work for film studios that requires complex lighting set-ups--I use more than one assistant.
With 35mm documentary work I work with one person. What about the issue of shooting in black and white versus color? I find it very difficult to do both simultaneously. Somebody called me about this upcoming trip to India and asked if I could shoot some color at the same time that I'm using black and white, and I said no.
Recently I've been doing more black-and-white photography. I prefer it. I think color is much more difficult because it's technically much less forgiving. Also it's another element to have to think about: color itself. You use color when it adds to the emotional content of the picture? I like color when it heightens the reality of the situation. The color photo essays in this book are successful examples of that. But again I'm the first to admit that it's much, much more difficult. I shot the photographs of Ethiopia in color negative film because the magazine insisted the story be in color.
I wanted to have the latitude of negative film and not to have to think about the more limited range of transparency film. Shooting in color negative allowed me to be a lot freer than if I were shooting transparency film. How technically proficient are you? Is that important to you? I've learned to become more technically proficient, but I'm not a technical person. I'd say that in the last ten years I've learned to be a hundred times more technical than I was.
It's important. If you're going to work professionally, a certain amount of technique is necessary simply because it helps you to come back with results. Also, great lighting technique can help a photographer make a stronger image, especially in portraiture. Beautiful natural light is the most desirable thing of all, but you can't always rely on it being there. The whole nature of what magazines expect has changed.