Juxtaposition: Photo Essays and Illustrated Stories

January 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Photo Essays and Illustrated Stories: Story Telling Cousins

Renowned photographer David Duchemin wrote a great post on the Craft&Vision site about creating photographic stories. He used an image he created in Istanbul to explain how patience, timing, and composition are key to creating strong images that tell stories. One sentence however stood out for me: "You don't make stories, you wait for them".

black and white picture of an old bike dumped in a Dutch canalHolland 2005Old bike in a Dutch canal

Photo Essays

Although I fully agree with David's statement and explanation, this in my opinion is only one possible way to create photographic stories. What David in an excellent way explains and describes is the photo essay. One image or a set of related images that tell a story without the need of additional explanation. Looking at the image(s) the viewer immediately understands and sees. And although each viewer probably will see a different story, it is the strength of the image that plants the story in the viewer's mind.

black and white back light picture of people in a street in Atlanta, GeorgiaAtlanta Silhouetteblack and white picture of people in a street in Atlanta, GA

Illustrated Stories

Another way to create photographic stories is what I would call illustrated stories. Although the image (or images) provide the basis for the story, the artist complements the image with text. In this case it will be the words provided by the artist that plants the story in the viewer's mind. The image still plays a key role in creating the story, but it is not any more the leading object. The text provided (be it a poem, prose, or maybe even only a brief image description) creates the main setting in which the viewer will experience the image; provides an additional lens through which the image will be viewed. An example of an illustrated story is the The Firefighter, posted in this blog.

black and white image of a canal in Brooklyn, NY, with a big smoke plume in the backgroundBrooklyn Burningblack and white image of a canal in Brooklyn, NY, with a big smoke plume in the background

Your Thoughts?

Photo Essays and Illustrated Stories. Are they different? Are they two ways of creating a story with images? Do you experience images different when text is provided?

Leave your thoughts and reactions in the Comments section below.


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