Friday, October 12, 2007

Photojournalism (31): Photo essays and sequence shots

“Hit or miss, trial and error, better luck next time, try and try again, next time make sure you’ve got film on your camera before you shoot, okay?”

These expressions best describe the emotions, the frustrations, the experiences you’ll have as you start to learn about photography. Some experiences you’d rather forget, some missed shots you’ll regret forever but just like life, photography is one activity where learning means building up through your experiences, growing by stages ... As rock star Alanis Morissette said in a hit song many years ago, “You live, you learn!”

Select your shots

One stage that you’ll go through as the photography bug hits you, is indiscriminate shooting. If you see something, you shoot it. If it’s out there, you shoot it. If something moves, you shoot it. You buy some more film, you shoot again ... As your skills improve however, you’ll become more selective in your shots. Your standards will become higher, and you’ll also realize that you don’t have enough money to buy all the film you need or want! (The high cost of film and processing, and the immediate results are some of the reasons why digital photography is such a big hit these days.)

Example of sequence shots

Remember our discussion of types of pictures and sequence shots? A sequence, as the term denotes, is a series of pictures of one subject, shot one after another. A photo sequence may or may not illustrate a certain idea or theme, but the series of pictures provides the viewers with more visual information about your subject. (Later on, you will learn that you can create a photo essay out of sequence shots.)

The pictures below are a sequence of a senior class having their yearbook picture taken. I shot these pictures way back in 1992 with my beloved Canon AE-1 Program camera fitted with an FD f/1.8 50 mm lens with a yellow-green filter, and power winder. After I shot the formal class picture, the fun began. If you mouse over each picture, the caption will appear for a few seconds.







“Thoughts on graduation day” (photo essay using sequence shots with captions)

In the following pictures, I asked my Class 1990 yearbook staffer Eric to pose by the dike at the back of Rizal High School in Pasig (formerly credited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s biggest high school). I was on the 3rd floor of a building with my beloved Canon AE-1 Program camera fitted with a Vivitar Series 1 70-210 mm.

I wanted to express the contemplative mood and loneliness a senior normally goes through as graduation time comes near. I just wanted two elements in my picture - Eric and the still waters of the Marikina River flowing behind the Rizal High School campus in Pasig City. The first two pictures of the scene below were the ones I needed to express what I wanted.

But then, I saw the tugboat coming from the left. I switched on the power winder of my camera. I shot about 20 frames all in all as the tugboat passed Eric and created ripples on the water. Serendipity! I had a photo essay that could be used to illustrate life cycles, transient moments, peace and serenity, consequences and change!


We have spent four memorable years here in our beloved school, and the days leading to our graduation day have seen a thousand questions tumbling in our hearts and minds. Where do we go from here?; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
We have spent four memorable years here in our beloved school, and the days leading to our graduation day have seen a thousand questions tumbling in our hearts and minds. Where do we go from here?
For some, the future beckons brightly as they are blessed not only with talent and intelligence but also with open doors and countless opportunities.For some the future looks dark and dreary, as innocent adolescent pursuits give way to serious concerns for jobs and financial security, with a college education merely a mirage in the dry desert sand of our crushed hopes and ruined dreams. And still for some of us, there is simply no future to speak about.Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
For some, the future beckons brightly as they are blessed not only with talent and intelligence but also with open doors and countless opportunities.For some the future looks dark and dreary, as innocent adolescent pursuits give way to serious concerns for jobs and financial security, with a college education merely a mirage in the dry desert sand of our crushed hopes and ruined dreams. And still for some of us, there is simply no future to speak about.
Still other questions haunt us as we rush from one graduation practice to another, from one class party to another …Will our friends in high school remember us through the passing of the years, through the changes in our lives, and through the distance of separation made more poignant when no letters come and birthdays are forgotten?; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
Still other questions haunt us as we rush from one graduation practice to another, from one class party to another …Will our friends in high school remember us through the passing of the years, through the changes in our lives, and through the distance of separation made more poignant when no letters come and birthdays are forgotten?
Will our friends still be there for us when problems come and solutions seem so elusive? Will our friends remain true to us even as they meet other people and encounter new experiences, or will the friendship we thought would never end, prove finally to be weak and temporal?; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
Will our friends still be there for us when problems come and solutions seem so elusive? Will our friends remain true to us even as they meet other people and encounter new experiences, or will the friendship we thought would never end, prove finally to be weak and temporal?
Will our friends still be there for us when problems come and solutions seem so elusive? Will our friends remain true to us even as they meet other people and encounter new experiences, or will the friendship we thought would never end, prove finally to be weak and temporal?; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
Will the joys and pains, heartbreaks and happiness we all shared be simply swept aside, never to be remembered, never to be allowed even a little space in our memories? Will the hopes and ambitions, the secret dreams we have dared to share only with our truest friends, be simply forgotten or revealed to others in careless, thoughtless ways?
Will the joys and pains, heartbreaks and happiness we all shared be simply swept aside, never to be remembered, never to be allowed even a little space in our memories? Will the hopes and ambitions, the secret dreams we have dared to share only with our truest friends, be simply forgotten or revealed to others in careless, thoughtless ways?; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
Will our names be remembered? Will our friendships last? Will our friends still be our friends? Life oftentimes has a cruel way of frustrating our dreams, of crushing our ambitions, of ending our friendships …
Will our names be remembered? Will our friendships last? Will our friends still be our friends? Life oftentimes has a cruel way of frustrating our dreams, of crushing our ambitions, of ending our friendships …; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
But our friends have made a promise always to remember … Life indeed must move on, to bigger things, to better places … and we grow up, physically, emotionally and intellectually, and we will no longer be the kind of persons we were in our high school days …
But our friends have made a promise always to remember … Life indeed must move on, to bigger things, to better places … and we grow up, physically, emotionally and intellectually, and we will no longer be the kind of persons we were in our high school days …; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
The saddest truth in the whole universe is that time changes everything.
The saddest truth in the whole universe is that time changes everything; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
But our friends have made a promise always to remember …
But our friends have made a promise always to remember …; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
But as we lie awake at night, the caressing wind carries to our consciousness the melodies of songs that brought wonder and meaning to our lives, songs that signified every turning point in our destinies, songs that we once shared and sang together as friends …
But as we lie awake at night, the caressing wind carries to our consciousness the melodies of songs that brought wonder and meaning to our lives, songs that signified every turning point in our destinies, songs that we once shared and sang together as friends …; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
Slowly, the half-forgotten lyrics become clearer and they bring us back to our high school days …
Slowly, the half-forgotten lyrics become clearer and they bring us back to our high school days …; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio
Indeed, we have promised always to t remember. We can always remember. We must always remember …
Indeed, we have promised always to t remember. We can always remember. We must always remember …; Rizal High School 1990; photo by Atty. Galacio Pssst, Eric! It has been eighteen years since 1990 when I asked you to pose by the dike. You can move away from the dike now, and go on with your life, okay?

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