Thursday, October 25, 2007

Photojournalism (33): Photo essays using the chronological approach

Examples of photo essays:

Trouble Shared (Brenda Ann Kennelly/ New York Times/Lens); A Country Doctor (W. Eugene Smith/Magnum for Life); A Young Father’s Balancing Act (Benjamin Norman/The New York Times); New York City Coffeehouse (Dima Gavrysh/Lens); Where Beauty Softens Your Grief (Gianni Cipriano/ICP); Gun Nation (Zed Nelson); What the World Eats (Time); Last Supper (2004; Celia A. Shapiro/Mother Jones); The Bitter Sweet Pill – GMB Akash; Happy Horsemeat (Alex Soth)

Unusual photo essays:

February Assignment: Photographing Pictures in Reflection; Magic in the Nearly Forgotten Mailbox; Andrew Moore Detroit; Superheroes – Dulce Pinzon; A Photo Fright Most Viral; Jump Book – Phillippe Halsman

Relevant article: “Week Five_The Photo Essay” from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism (topics include kinds of shots like signature shot, process, interaction, clincher, etc., and how to structure your narrative)

In using the chronological approach, you follow as events unfold before you, and you shoot your subject over a period of time. A simple example of a photo essay is that of the two pictures below where a little lamb makes friends with the freshmen and then finally gets the limelight as it performs on stage. Baa! Baa!

In the photo essay below, I shot a high school student writing the names of his friends on the hollow blocks. (Please take note of the bust of Dr. Jose Rizal on the background of the first picture.) He was only using a piece of chalk, and so I didn’t scold him. He didn’t see me shooting him while he was writing on the hollow blocks. Later on, after he left, I got a medium shot of the letters he wrote on the blocks. As a final shot, using the vertical format, I shot the letters on the blocks, with a group of students walking away on the background.

Sequence shots can be a chronological photo essay

In the pictures below, I asked my Class 1990 yearbook staffer Eric to pose by the dike at the back of Rizal High School in Pasig. 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 lens. (Believe it or not, I bought this 2nd hand zoom lens in a barbershop in Blumentritt, Manila.)  

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. 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 which could be used to illustrate life cycles, transient moments, peace and serenity, consequences and change!
(If you mouse over the pictures, the captions will appear for about five seconds. If you continue to move your mouse over the picture, the caption will stay visible.)

Pssst, Eric! It has been sixteen 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?