Photographs can have an instinctual way of telling a story. Take a closer look at an image, and you can see details that might give insight to the subject matter and its environment. And if there is a sequential order of images related to one another, then it becomes a photographic narrative much like a book in visual form.
In Charlotte Cotton’s book, The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art) (contains affiliate link), she addresses another style of story telling is also known as tableau or tableau-vivant photography, which concentrates on a before or after moment captured into one image. Several photographers, like Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson, have successfully conveyed many details into one creative narrative. Based on the reading of the chapter, we decided to break into two groups to tackle this idea tableau photography in “Once Upon a Time.”
If you’ve been following on Instagram, I shared a snapshot of our group assignment. The idea was to take a well-known children’s story and make an adaptation of it in our way. Last year I had thought of The Giving Tree narrative in Introductory Photography, and I wanted to tackle this idea of bringing a female perspective to the storyline. The Giving Tree deals with this relationship between a boy and a tree. But what if the story was between a girl and a tree? How would it be conveyed differently?
Inexperience in the darkroom and in photography led me to sideline this idea until I proposed it to our group. After pitching the idea, together, we tackled this project with the help of a few friends who were kind enough to be our models.
The Giving Tree Narrative
(Photo Above: The Giving Tree Narrative, Gelatin Silver Print, 16″x20”)
Collapsed into one image, an elderly woman sits on the very tree that helped her along in life. Looking back at three critical points in her life, she sees how the tree enabled her to have a life that she’s had. As a young girl, the tree provided sustenance. As she grew older, the girl grew up and wanted branches to build a life away from the city. Then as a grown adult, she eventually cut the tree down to its trunk to build a dream house of her own. The elderly woman is left alone once more with nothing but a hot mug, sitting with her old friend. (It’s unfortunate that the digital image was taken from my camera and lost detailing on the white board.)
Someday, I’d like to push the Giving Tree narrative further into other perspectives, maybe pushing it into the digital world.
We are forever grateful to our three models and photographer/model who were willing participants on a very cold spring day. And I’d like to thank my classmates for allowing me to publish this image on Hometown Betty. If you are on Instagram, you should check out their Instagram feeds:@courtneyhill_55, @jcmickeyd_6, @liz_jan_deheer.
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– How to Fine Tune a Black & White Photo Image
– Putting Composition Theory into Practice
– Learning About Composition
– Taking Intro to Analogue (Film) Photography
– American History of Photography, the Darkroom, and the Unintended Photogram
From my hometown to yours,