ideas: photo stories

Photo story

Photo stories are easy, fun to do, and a good medium for group work. Give your group a range of subjects or guidelines to choose from, these can explore factual issues in a documentary style, or you can construct a cartoon or fantasy narrative illustrated through the photos.

cartoon: person thinking of ideas

The main principle is that the images should tell the story – these should be sequenced carefully in order to communicate your message, and text or captions should take second place. Speech bubbles are fun to use if your photo story is going to be produced in a cartoon style.

The photo story is a very effective medium with which to explore a specific subject, or to accompany a political campaign on issues such as:

  • women in work
  • job searching
  • sex education
  • health and safety
  • housing
  • road building
  • drugs
  • human rights
  • environmental concerns

Research into these subjects may be necessary, and you should seek permission before representing other people or events in a piece that will be displayed in public.

cartoon: thought bubbles of ideas, drugs, crime, law, football, food, sex, a dream, a nightmare, car chase, science fiction

Once you have established your subject you will need to develop a plot. Get your group to do this by asking them questions about the subject, or develop a narrative by telling a story with each member of the group contributing one sentence. The group may need to spend some time researching their subject. Next, produce a plan, or story-board of the pictures, locations, and characters you will require. Draw in rough sketches of the pictures, and fill in the plan.

Plan shots carefully and prepare characters, locations and props. Think about continuity, for instance, characters should be wearing the same clothes in all the shots, and the time of day in location shoots should correspond with the time of day in the story. Of course there will always be room for spontaneous shots as well.

cartoon: person thinking of techniques, colour, black and white, special effects, freeze, motion blur, starburst

Take the photos, develop and print the pictures, trim, and lay them out on a piece of mounting card if you are going to display then on boards, or onto A4 paper if you are going to make a booklet.

Write and cut out speech bubbles, noises, cartoons letters, titles etc.

Mount with spray glue or rubber cement.

cartoon: one person showing work to another, in a leaflet and on a wall.