Emily Kline and I attended the seminar “Telling stories through pictures: How news media builds on tradition” for extra credit. Although I expected the seminar to be informative, but very dry, it was actually interesting. The first speaker was Bill Douthitt, who is National Geographic Magazine’s managing editor for special editions. He spokes to us about creating a narrative through pictures. Some of his tips:
- The steps to creating a narrative: conceptualizing, organizing, and editing.
- It’s important to make judgement on instinct.
- Choose a subject you’re familiar with. Then images will be easier to acquire.
- If you’re creating a project for profit, make sure the subject is engaging and marketable.
- The key aspect of editing is juxtaposing the language of words with the language of images.
The second speaker was Megan Rossman, a specialist in new media who works for The Washington Post. She was a finalist for a pulitzer prize, and really knows how to format videos to tell a story. She spoke to us about developing many of her stories, and stressed the importance of choosing a story first, then deciding if it should be represented in print or video (not deciding you want to do a print or video piece, and then choosing a subject). Some advice Rossman gave:
- A successful audio slideshow has natural sound and interviews with strong “feeling quotes.”
- Interviewing for an audio or video piece is completely different than for a print story. For instance, while background information is important for clarification, it’s not as powerful for viewers as it may be in a print story.
- If you’re creating a video, you should use natural sound to break up an interview. Layer the sound by bringing in the natural sound underneath the interview.
- When your subject starts talking, you should show them so viewers know who is speaking.
Here is a video created by Rossmann for washingtonpost.com:
I chose to review Richard Avedon’s work because it presents fashion and beauty as a preeminent aspect of pop culture; while his photos may not always showcase prevalent models and fashion designers, he created a way to showcase the fashion beautifully. In each of the photos that I included, the clothing is clearly the most engaging aspect of the photograph. Consequently, even when the subject of the photo is Marilyn Monroe, the viewer’s eye is drawn to her dress. While her face looks charming and pretty, and a viewer can tell that she is wearing the dress (and not vice versa), the concentrated gaze provokes a sense of confusion… Why is a woman who looks so concentrated, yet spacey, wearing such a bold and powerful outfit? The story of Monroe and the troubled life she led (with a persona of complete confidence and a mind of intense insecurity), however, provides insight as to why Avedon may have photographed her in this way.
This photo aligns with the style of many of Avedon’s photographs. While the figures are often emaciated beyond comprehension, thus presented as mere figures in the composition of the photographs, the clothing they wear is displayed prominently.
This photograph also aligns with the concept I mentioned above. While the subject is thin, as is fitting for a fashion photograph, the coat she is wearing consumes her body in a beautiful way. While it may take up the majority of her figure, it highlights many features that are regarded as womanly and elegant: a long neck (with the large, exaggerated collar), her tiny hands (with one hidden in the pocket, and the other squeezed tightly around the umbrella handle), and her long legs (which the viewer can assume are lengthy by the proportion of her calves to the rest of her hidden body).
Each of our photos fits together to represent solitude; while all of the photos utilize different elements of photography, they are similar in their themes of color and composition. Each of the photos uses dull colors, some of which are cool greens and some of which are medium grays. I like how the element of color ties each of the photos in the essay together. In the first photo, value is minimal as the only bright white evident is the sky in the upper right-hand corner, while the darkest color is shadowed under the bench in the lower left-hand corner. In the second photo, the medium grays are juxtaposed with the cool greens of the trees, connecting with the brighter value in the center to create an ethereal effect. The third photo (the one I selected) utilizes a small depth of field to focus on the neutral beiges of the chipmunk, surrounded by the bright greens of the grass and leaves. As the rushed, harsh lines of the grass lead the eye toward the chipmunk, the organic lines of the leaves project a sense of tranquility that mimics the theme of solitude. Line and value are the main elements of the fourth photo, while the rule of thirds provides the photo with an interesting composition. The last photo is unsaturated and the landscape in the background almost blends together. This causes the flower and the water bottle to stand out and thus plays into the theme of solitude. The lines in the background run down which leads the viewer’s eye to the flower. This photo also demonstrates the rule of thirds.
The asymmetrical structure of this photograph by Christian Ziegler makes the composition active. It seems as though the orchids may be blowing in the wind, as the one Ziegler focused on in the foreground takes precedent over the blurred orchids in the background. As the objects in the background are blurred, they align with the active nature of the photograph; the viewer may assume they are blurred as they move in the wind.
The vivid implied texture in Ziegler’s photograph prompts the viewer to want to glide his or her hands up the stem of the orchid to the petals. Because the petals look fuzzy and the stems look so smooth, the implied texture is evident as a visual aspect of the photograph.
The colors in this photo are rather muted. Although the reds and blues of the flowers are pretty bright, the background is blurred so the colors look dull. I think the use of color in this photo is imaginative and delicate; the flowers almost look fake because the colors are so intriguing.
The most evident visual aspect of this photograph by Tim Laman is the use of line to create a pattern. While the pattern is more organic than structured, it provides the photograph with a background of substance that is not too distracting. As the red lines carry the viewer’s eye to the focal point, the fish, the plant with the leaves that protrude out beyond the fish do the same thing. I feel as though the way these two sets of lines cross is one of the the reasons this photograph is so strong; as each set leads the viewer to the focal point, they also interact with each other, creating the bold pattern that intrigues the viewer.
Another pattern in Laman’s photograph is the series of light dots on the dark leaves in the background. The dots, along with the darker parts of those leaves, create a surprising color combination with the coral, the background, and the fish. The photographer clearly used the concept of primary colors to set up his photograph. The red coral, blue background, and yellow fish contrast with the neutral colors of the spotted leaves.
The use of light and color in Laman’s photograph is also notable. The warm colors in the foreground contrast intensely with the cool and neutral colors of the background. As this happens, the viewer’s eye is coaxed into assuming the layers of the photograph are in their actual position; by ensuring the warm colors are in front of the cooler ones, Laman avoids playing tricks on the eye. Had the warmer colors been behind the cooler ones, we may have been too distracted by the hot reds and yellows to realize they were actually in the background.