Use photographs to tell a story or to highlight an issue you are interested in exploring.

  • Use photographs to tell a story or to highlight an issue you are interested in exploring.
  • Choose two stories or issues.
  • Story 1 (Constructed Narrative):  Construct one story using props, objects, and subjects.
  • Story 2 (Documentary Narrative):  For the other story, go out in the world to photograph it.
  • Take 10 photographs for each story, meaning you will make 20 photos total.

Constructed Narrative

You can create a fictional story with photography that transports your viewer to another place. For the first part of this assignment, you will decide what story you would like to tell, then brainstorm and write out a script for what you would like to photograph.

Take a look at this series by Duane Michals called Things Are Queer. Use this as inspiration. Remember that narrative can take many different directions and everyone has a different story to tell.

Photograph a story of your own making. When you are done you should have a series of 10 photographs that tell your story.

To get a more detailed information about what constructed narrative photography means follow this link:
Constructed Narrative Photography

Documentary Narrative

Some may argue that going out into the world and capturing exactly what you see is the very premise of photography. In this second part of the assignment, pre-plan a general idea of what kind of story you are looking for, then go out and try to find it as best you can. Start out simple, with a single subject, such as birds, litter, couples holding hands, etc. Then build from there.

The different between the Documentary Narrative from the Constructed Narrative is that the Documentary Narrative will feature candid photos where you do not alter the scene at all.

The Americans by Robert Frank is an example of a documentary narrative series.

  • Pay close attention to lighting; remember the lighting techniques we have talked about in previous weeks of this course.
  • Pay attention to shadows and where they fall.
  • When photographing for the documentary narrative part of the assignment, it might be easier to have your camera set on auto to allow you to take photographs quickly and easily. This is OK as long as you do not forsake style, composition, and lighting for ease.
  • When photographing for the constructed narrative portion, do not use auto, since you will have more time to set up the photos yourself. It might be helpful to shoot in Shutter Priority Mode if you have it, set your Aperture at a low number (side opening) since you will most likely be photographing close-up subjects.  You will be using many of the same techniques you used for the portraiture assignment. This time, instead of using only people, you will use different objects and/or subjects to tell the story. Play with lighting, backgrounds, settings, etc.
  • For both parts of the assignment, pre-planning is important. Write out the story you want to tell for each portion and go from there. Gather your props and subjects in advance. List what you might want to look for when going out into the world to photograph.



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