Online Workshop: Photographic Storytelling, 13th November 2021
An intensive day long workshop on the fundamentals of visual storytelling.
What is it?
Photographers often speak of being visual storytellers, but our understanding of how photographic stories work is much less formalised than in other fields. This workshop adapts ideas from literature, cinema and other media, relating them to sets of photographs in order to equip participants with a set of clear ideas and techniques that they can use to tell better visual stories.
What does it cover?
This workshop will lead participants through discussions and exercises designed to explore how stories are structured and created through images and words, and encourages participants to think about the importance of narrative, both to projects with an obvious story, and those without one. The workshop places heavy emphasis on what can be accomplished at the sequencing stage of a project, but also discusses the importance of thinking about storytelling at earlier stages of a project. Please see below for a detailed outline of the schedule.
Who should do it?
Anyone interested in developing a more robust understanding of photographic storytelling. Participants should have a photographic project in progress which they can use to put the workshop ideas into practice this with, but this needn’t be a project with an obvious story behind it.
How is it delivered?
The workshop is broken into four elements delivered online over the course of a day, with breaks in between for participants to have recharge and ti work independently on small activities on the topics covered in the previous element. The workshop is taught using a browser based video conferencing platform called Jitsi. You’ll be sent a link to join, there is no need to create an account or download anything. At the end you will also be sent a recording of the workshop.
Who is leading it?
My name is Lewis Bush, I’m a photographer, researcher and writer. In my own projects I make use of a range of storytelling techniques from the traditional to the experimental and have taught these techniques for years. I have extensive experience of online teaching and I am course leader of the London College of Communications MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (online). You can read my full bio here.
What will I need?
You’ll need a computer or tablet with an internet connection and a microphone. For the independent activities it would be useful but not essential to have 20 – 30 work prints from your project. These prints do not need to be high quality (photocopier quality is fine) and should be around A6 in size. If printing is difficult you can also work with digital files although for reasons we will discuss during the workshop paper prints are always preferable.–
- 8.45– Participants gather ready for a 9.00am start
- 9.00 to 10.30 – Identifying the building blocks of storytelling. Distinguishing theme, story and narrative from each other. Understanding dramatic tension and trying methods for mapping and planning narrative structures.
- 10.30 to 11 – Break for first independent activity
- 11.00 to 12.30 – Looking at chronological and non-chronological narrative structures, considering the strengths and weaknesses of each and reviewing and analysing examples. Exploring the effects of these techniques through practical editing exercises.
- 12.30 to 13.30 – Break for second independent activity and lunch
- 13.30 to 15.00 – Discussing at symbolic and associative approaches to storytelling, how can one create a sense of narrative even with images which apparently lack the essential elements of a story, like setting, characters and drama?
- 15.00 to 15.30 – Break for third independent activity
- 15.30 to 17.00 – Comparing cinematic editing to photo sequencing and considering how ideas from film can allow us to tell more sophisticated and subtle stories and create very specific effects in our viewer’s minds. Final questions and discussion about the day’s topics.
- 17.00 – Workshop ends.
Testimonials from past participants:
‘It was a really informative day. The form doesn’t give me enough space to say how helpful the experience was. … On top of all the great teaching, the day was friendly and fun. The food was excellent, which is very important to me. Your room works exceptionally well and it is easy to see how much thought you have given to the layout of the space, with clever hidden gems like the magnetic walls.’
– Nicola, Visual Storytelling participant
‘The switch and balance between the necessary technical details and the broader context of the photographic medium was really well executed and made for a genuinely useful and productive set of mini workshops … your style and approach made it both interesting and enjoyable! I don’t think I’ve ever been on a workshop or training course where every word and image was relevant! There was literally no ‘padding’ from where I was sitting!’
– Allan, Photobook Concepts (online) participant
‘There really wasn’t any weak point during the day. As a busy working photographer predominantly delivering picture stories to clients, I found exploring the ‘science’ (for lack of a better word) behind much of what I instinctively do was absolutely fascinating.’
– Marcus, Visual Storytelling participant
‘I found the visual storytelling techniques followed by practical exercises with pictures very useful. I also really appreciated the studio set up, your non-hierarchical relation with us and the down to earth environment of your house. ‘
– Visual Storytelling participant
The fine print:
I believe workshops should be small and intimate, and for that reason numbers are capped at 10 participants per workshop. However this small number also means I need at least 6 participants in order for them to run. In the unlikely event of a workshop having to be cancelled participants will have their full fee returned to them. Participants needing to cancel up to one week before the workshop will have their fee returned less a 20% charge. Cancellations made less than one week before the day of the workshop are non-refundable.
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