Forum: Telling A Story

The instructions for this weeks forum was that we had to choose seven photographs to tell a story for an assignment. I was too late to participate. I had two stories but decided to make it seven spreads instead.

Taking the lessons learned about storytelling discussed in “Unearthing the Photo Essay” I planned the story with the following strategies in mind. I needed to focus on getting an opening shot, a key-shot and a closer. The story also required photographs that filled-in the story and ideally, these needed to tell a story within themselves.

The first spread is the opening shot and could have been the climax of the story. Like in many magazines, this photograph would be used as a cover page or, as, I did use it the opening as my opening shot. I approached the layout using a Kinfolk minimalism as I believe that this type of story would interest their Hipster audience. Knowingly, I directed the text towards a thinking audience.

The space on the left is for the introductory text. I added the caption for this reflective exercise.

Frontpage – The Harvest Festival referred to as Sukkot by the Jewish People (Andre Nagel . 2019)
Alternative option within a Magazine (Andre Nagel, 2019)

My story is broken up in three parts. Buying the vegetables, travel home and doing the installation at our shed/church.

Spread 2 Introductory Photograph on the left From the farmland to the shop.
(Andre Nagel, 2019)

Photograph one introduces the first story and links the farmyard, shop and the shopper. This what Freeman calls an introductory photograph (Freeman, 2012). The triptych on the right enforces the message, the packer, the purchaser and trolley and finally, the infinite lines remind the viewer of the farmyard and accentuates the available abundance.

Spread 3: A full Spread of what I call a key shot for this series. The prices are recorded for posterity. ( Andre Nagel, 2019)

Spread 3 is deliberately large. The squares link it with the previous spread but it is such a powerful photograph that I decided that it is the climax of the shopping experience.

Spread 4; Transition between Shop, home and church (Andre Nahel, 2019)

Spread 4 is an interlude or bridge connecting my first story with the second. It has some humour and reality. I contrasted the sunlight and the darkness to give it a minor impact.

Spread 5 The Sukkot being prepared. ( Andre Nagel, 2019)

Spread 5 Introduces the Sukkot itself. It is an introductory photograph. The two photographs on the right show how it was decorated. In both cases, my wife’s gestures made these photographs special. They are not mere portraits or poses but tells a story.

Spread 6 Details of the display in the Sukkot (Andre Nagel, 2019)

In spread 6 I followed the story up with details of the display in the Sukkot, still lives, but here I even contrasted shapes and lines to give the spread an impact and dynamism.

Spread 7 a Triptych with the Punctum with a closing (Andre Nagel 2019)

Looking at spread 7, the triptych is a series that bring the punctum (point) to the story. The text is intended for thinking people to ponder on. It starts with a grinder to make coffee. To me, it symbolised the grinding up of faith by a modernist toolIf the content offends, then I want to make another observation. I have experienced this twice now, where some student has strong opinions on a subject. They forget that the photographer may or may not present something he feels strongly about or as a practitioner, he has to undertake an assignment that opposes his/her belief system. David Goldblatt has shown, that as a practitioner, it is possible to detach yourself from making a judgement on ideologies, politics, world and views and present the story or subject in the most honest way possible. Sometimes, you should even try to understand your subjects to photograph them. You don’t have to agree with them. We as students need not be judgemental about the subject matter of our peers and see what we can learn from their work and other master photographers. If it is about the practice, and as this is a photography course, we should reciprocate with creative and positive criticism with a particular focus on photography. with the red papers indicating caution. The message on the screen is in Afrikaans that proclaim God as the creator contrasting with the impact of modernist thought introduced in the text below. And then, the architectural drawing is an indication of hope and continuity of the faith community in a future for their belief system. The closing photograph seems to reflect the opening photograph, but now the Vegetables and flowers seem to extend from the Bible.

None of this was set-up. In fact, I used my cell phone to make myself less visible to the subjects in this series. It was my first exercise of this nature which I believe is a reasonable success that will take me forward from here.

If the content offends, then I want to make another observation. I have experienced this twice now, where some student has strong opinions on a subject. They forget that the photographer may or may not present something he feels strongly about or as a practitioner he has to undertake an assignment that opposes his/her belief system. David Goldblatt has shown, that as a practitioner, it is possible to detach yourself from making a judgement on ideologies, politics, world and views and present the story or subject in the most honest way possible. Sometimes, you should even try to understand your subjects to photograph them. You don’t have to agree with them. We as students need not be judgemental about the subject matter of our peers and see what we can learn from their work and other master photographers. If it is about the practice, and as this is a photography course, we should reciprocate with creative and positive criticism with a special focus on photography.

References

Freeman, M., 2012. The Photographers Story. 1st ed. East Sussex: ILEX

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