Tell Me A Story
You can frame your story around patterns, shapes, locations, objects, repetitions, time, seasons – it’s really up to you to figure out what the photo series will be about.
A bustling market, tiny backstreet, or immersed in nature are just a handful of examples of times I have shot hundreds of photos in a single place to create a collection of shots that not only look good alone, but also when featured together. Then there are a couple of bigger series I have worked on over the years that have defined my style and will most likely never be completed because of their endless possibilities.
Here are a few tips on how to capture a strong series of photographs which tell the story of your adventures.
Find Your Theme
Sometimes a common thread can reveal itself to you, but if your intention is to create a series then selecting a theme before you start shooting can really help you to focus in on crafting the right shots. Ask yourself what moves you. Your theme could be as broad as observing the everyday life of people in a single country or as specific as honing in on a season of your local forest.
Whatever you choose, your photo series will need that all-important thread – the one thing that connects each and every shot, but is delivered to the viewer with a slight variation each time so they understand why they’re moving through the series.
My work, for example, has always had an overarching theme of human’s interacting with nature. Adding a person to a landscape to showcase scale, a sense of adventure and that human touch makes these distant places seem a little more attainable.
Stick To It
Once you’ve captured your shots, unity is key. An image that doesn’t quite fit, more often than not, will stick out in your collection. If a location or subject doesn’t connect with the bigger picture of the story, then don’t force it. A strong photo series is the result of you, the storyteller, carefully removing the images that don’t belong and retaining only the best and individually strong photos.
That said, you will soon find that you can push the boundaries of your theme. As long as the common thread remains consistent it can almost become a challenge to change everything else around it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of needing a concrete visual connection between each shot, however, there’s really no limit to how you connect your series. Techniques like shooting from a specific perspective (top-down, panorama, etc), and framing your shot around objects count just as much as having a physical draw card.
You also don’t need to insert hundreds of photos into your story to convey what you’re trying to say or show. Sometimes a series of as little as three shots can be very powerful.
Think outside the box. The more creative you get with your series, the more powerful and unique it will become.
Take Your Time
Nowadays we’re all about instant feedback, instant uploads and instant likes; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t build on your series over time. Some of the best photo series are bodies of work that have been created over many years. Instagram is a great example of this as people share their images across a theme, allowing it to grow and evolve.
The more time you put into it, the more likely you are to be on the right track to producing a captivating series.
I’ve spent many months working on a series that featured a yellow jacket all around the world, including Iceland, the Faroe Islands, South Africa and Namibia, and the more places it featured, the better this series became. It’s a great feeling being able to tell that story and share it with the world.
Chris Eyre-Walker is a member of the Olympus Visionary Program, a team of award-winning photographers supported by Olympus.