Narrative

Never mind what Google Images tells you, photography isn’t 100% about photos that simply look gorgeous.  It can also be that the image itself is only a gateway, and that the story it tells is the real point of the piece.

For a Classic example: look up any news photo from 1989 of people tearing down the Berlin Wall.  Or of the famous kiss in Times Square at the end of World War II.

Or something along these lines …

Lost Shoe
Lost Shoe

Whose shoe is this?  Why is there only one?  It looks (very) well-worn, but if so, why weren’t both of them discarded?  And what woebegone is this, with a single shoe and random trash strewn about?

It’s photos that get me to start asking questions that intrigue me.  Sometimes it can be “how the hell did they GET that shot?” (read: jealousy), and other times it can be questions of story, of narrative, of human experience.

That sense of narrative can be manifest in documentary photography, in journalism, family photos, and plenty more besides.

And it doesn’t always need to be an action shot, like of someone scoring in a sports game.  Sometimes it can be something more somber and reflective.

Case in point:

Shovel Head next to Burned Out forest
What’s the Story?

A shovel head in the woods isn’t immediately gripping.  But look a bit closer.  In the foreground, there’s cut logs, and back behind, you’ll notice the trees don’t have any foliage.  In fact the only green is a bit of sprouts right up front of the shot.

This was shot on the road to Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite, about 8 months after that road was used as a fireline to stop the Rim Fire, which burned over 400 square miles.  For perspective, that’s more than 8 times the size of San Francisco.

So ask yourself.  Ask yourself who left that shovel head.  Was it left during the fight?  Placed there afterward?  Left by accident or design?

Let your shot follow the story and the questions and you may find something wonderful, poignant, and insightful.

No post next week, off shooting again.

Happy shooting!

See more of my work at http://www.patricklcahalan.co.nf

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