I have read in a couple of places in the last few months that one of the things that makes a great photograph is that is tells a story. Now, perhaps I’ve never taken a great photograph for this reason, but it’s not an argument that convinces me. Many great photographs do, of course, tell stories, but many do nothing of the sort. Take “Leaves, Mills college, California” by Ansel Adams, as fine a photograph as you are likely to see, but I’m not sure there’s much of a story.
Portraying a story is not then at the forefront of my thinking when I set out with a camera or two. I’m usually trying to capture a sense of the space in front of me, to distil a scene and mood into a small rectangle. Sometimes I might play with the result, to create a different mood than the one that I felt, or alter things more radically so the scene in the photograph could never have been witnessed – using infra-red film, for example. I try and pose some questions, most successfully with my benches, in my own view, but essentially I’m working in a pictorial style.
So it was worrying me this month when the goal for our challenge group was to tell a story in three linked images, rather than the usual “add three separate pictures on a specific theme”. Three different pictures on a single theme allows plenty of leeway, there’s more freedom to interpret the theme in varied ways, and I suppose that plays to my somewhat scattered mindset. Three linked pictures with no theme upfront on the other hand requires a different approach. It took me a long time to think of any idea at all and the first couple of ideas were just a bit too corny. So in the end I went for this set:
I think it just about works although, in retrospect, perhaps a vertical crop on the first shot, of the clippers, would have looked better alongside the other two. Also, the last photo is a bit poor – it turns out photographing your own head in closeup is a lot harder than I thought.