Narrative in Still Photography

I recently came across this article about narrative in photography that I think has interesting implications for new media makers.

Why is narrative such a difficult concept for young photographers to master?

The author, Grant Scott, speculates that perhaps young adults who are new to photography aren’t very good at creating narratives in their images because the formal school system through which we progress enforces reading like a chore and therefore we tend to reject “all forms of reading and, as a result, of the narrative” (para 2).

Scott goes on to discuss how short form social media (like 140 character tweets and single image Instagram posts) “reduce both attention span and the opportunity to develop complex and nuanced storytelling” (para 5) and although the platforms can be used to create narrative the photographer needs to have a thorough understanding of how narrative can work on those platforms in order to take the fullest advantage of them. He mentions that young photographers often only see their work on back-lit screens and emphasises the importance of printing out a body of work to analyse it physically in order to learn good editing skills and to make connections between images that might be missed if the images were confined only to the screen.

I think it is important to not only develop an understanding of how narrative works, and how you can showcase it through different mediums (photography, audio, video, anything really) but to also develop an understanding of why narrative is important, of why narrative touches humans on such an emotional level where facts and figures can’t always reach. Once you understand why something is important and that we are using it every day in all kinds of situations, you gain a real sense of exactly why you must prioritise being intentional about it within your own work.

How am I going to work on this in my creative endeavours and professional career? I am going to keep narrative in my mind during the creating and editing process. I’m going to seek out ways to learn more about how to incorporate narrative in my work. I am going to deconstruct the work of others to learn from their creations. What are you going to do?

APA reference:
Scott, G. (2016) Why is narrative such a difficult concept for young photographers to master? Retrieved from:

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