Tag Archives: Noticing

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: https://witness.worldpressphoto.org/why-is-narrative-such-a-difficult-concept-for-young-photographers-to-master-ccef10fb1064

IM2.2

Integrated Media 2.2 ie. the second time I attempt to complete this course. I found it quite enjoyable last year, and only failed because I didn’t actually complete the report. The only thing that’s changed from last year to this is that the report part of the assessment is now also group and not individual.  So I’m not likely to fail again, considering how seriously I take group assessment. Yay!

When I say that it’s the only thing that’s changed, I’m not kidding though. The lecture content and assessment so far are all exactly the same (to the point where the introductory blog post about the lecture still states that the report is individual assessment… copy-paste). It’s okay though, the reason I didn’t complete the report last year is because I got to the end of the semester and realised that it would be very difficult to write a report when I hadn’t been keeping up with the theory all semester. So I made myself retake the course so I could actually learn the things I was supposed to be learning last year.

I realised that I needed something to remind me of that, a motto or a phrase, so that when I find myself tuning out because I’ve heard it before, I can remind myself to tune back in and learn. I noticed that in the job descriptions of SMPs (Social Media Producers) that Seth showed us in the lecture, a lot of them required evidence or proof that you actually know your way around a social media network. So I’m going to think of this course as helping me build some portfolio appropriate content. I’ll work out how to turn that into a motto if I need it later…

I’ve started brainstorming ideas for the event assessment already. I feel like having done this part of the course before is a huge advantage, and won’t bore me because we’ll be planning and executing a different event. It might even be more interesting this time around to make comparisons etc.

On switching off

My dad has this question that he rhetorically throws around whenever he’s with company and someone ask a Google question (for example, what’s the third flavour in a B52 shot?). He says “Oh gee, if only one of us had a small computer like device that we could carry around in our pockets that has access to all of the answers in the world…” and then inevitably pulls out his phone and Googles the question.

What I’m trying to say is that sometimes phones are great devices that can help out in certain social situations. For example a trivia question argument between two friends, or letting someone know you’re lost or running late.

Sometimes though, phones and friends don’t mix. I’ve heard that some people have a rule when they go out to eat with friends, that everybody places their phone face-down on the end of the table and the first person to pick up their phone to check it, also picks up the entire bill. Not a bad rule, but the fact that it exists surely reflects something about our society.

For our IRL 2013 event, we thought it might be difficult to ask people to actually switch off their phones for an hour and a half. I framed that time by suggestion to the planning team that it’s the same length as a short movie, and most people can go that long without checking their phone (although I know I am guilty of taking a phone call mid-movie, only once and I left the theatre, but still…). We were so worried about having to control the no-mobile-phone rule during the event that we even considered making one person the anti-phone police for the event.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that. In fact, we actually forgot to get everyone to turn their phones off at the beginning of the event! The switching phones off video that you can see here is totally staged. It happened right at the end of the event, and if you look closely, you can even tell that some of the phones weren’t actually turned off, just the screens switched to blank!

What I thought was amazing was that even though we all had out phones in our bags or pockets, not one person even peeked at their screen during the event. Nobody was tempted to check what was happening online because we were all too busy enjoy ourselves in the moment.

I think it helped that we didn’t all know each other too well. It’s easy to be rude in front of friend you know well, as you’d expect their forgiveness and even their understanding. With strangers you don’t know what to expect. I also think it helped that we had a lot of activities planned, and there was no down-time where people were wandering around wondering what to do. Boredom very quickly leads to checking your phone, seeing if maybe there’s something better happening somewhere else.

Porous, Granular, Faceted

The three most important things in relation to networks. And networks are more important that the digital. The digital revolution is over, remember?

Porous

Permeable. Open internally (i.e. smaller bits that can make sense on their own) and externally (i.e. those smaller bits can link to other work outside itself).

A blog is porous. The internal openness comes from the individual posts that make sense on their own without the context of the whole blog, and can be linked to each other in different ways. The external openness comes from the track-backs, ping-backs and external links; the architecture of links that surrounds a blog and connects the blogosphere.

Granular

Smallest unit of closure (not necessarily narrative).

Single shots from a movie are granular (unless you can’t tell what it is). A blog post on it’s own is granular (although deeper than this, a paragraph of a blog post may be granular, as might a single, powerful sentence). A product on Amazon is granular (and porous as it can be added to a wishlist or embedded in a message).

Faceted

Like diamonds. Lots of faces where a face is a way to connect to another part.

Some facets matter, and some don’t. Like we talked about what things will be noticed and what things won’t be back in week 10 with the sugar and the water. The sugar won’t be noticing how wet the water is, because that facet doesn’t affect it. The water won’t be noticing how sweet the sugar is, because that facet doesn’t matter. What matters to the sugar is how warm the water is, how saturated it is and how much velocity it has. What matters to the water is how big the sugar granules are.

If sugar and water could talk…

Noticed Beauty

I’m watching the Hindi movie Raajneeti and there was one shot that was so beautiful. I think it could have been taken on its own the without context of the shots around it and it still would have been beautiful.

The shot was mostly dark blue with a little bit of yellow to the side of Sooraj’s (the only character on screen at the time) face. Sooraj’s face was also mostly in shadow and his expression could be interpreted many ways if the context of the other shots was removed. Kind of like that experimental film where we interpreted the man’s expression according to the clips that came before and after it.

If I wasn’t Noticing (with a capital) what I was watching, I would have missed it entirely. Noticing has crept into my daily habits now and I’ve Noticed that it’s done so.