Narrative Photography

Photography can easily provide a narrative by documenting both emotions and history whilst portraying the artists opinion. It can be used to quickly capture a sequence, however it can also be used to hide the narrative.

David Hockney was once quoted saying ‘however good the photograph, it doesn’t haunt you the way a painting can’ (The Spoken Image), giving a modernist view that photography is purely a document and not art and therefore the narrative provided is singular and factual. However I disagree. Photography is real, or at least the subjects (whether staged or not) are real, so the way its taken, what is seen and what is off camera can haunt the viewer.

CREWD 1998-2002.Untitled (Beer Dream)_0

Gregory Crewdson is a great example of this. He staged a series of photographs after hiring  a town and creating a set for his images. But the use of photography gives the illusion of reality in a way that painting never could.

To experiment with how easy it was to create a story within photography, we were given random images and asked to create a story as a team, as shown below.

photographic philosophies

Our story is of a woman who tries to escape her old life and move on, so we showed this through positioning, colour and having the images in a sequence. Originally we only had one image at the end to show her moving to a greener, more alive place, however a member of our team mentioned the suicide forest in Japan.  This not only created a twist in our story (giving her two options at the end) but it also showed how easy photography and its narrative can be interpreted.

Photography always gives the viewer a narrative, but depending on how clever the photographer is, there may be a chance that the narrative is entirely dependant on its viewer and their own experiences.


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