Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 23

Thread: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Istanbul, Turkey
    Posts
    293
    Real Name
    Murat Batmaz

    Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Have you ever thought whether it's a photographer's mission to tell a story or convey a certain feeling with their work? Every now and then, I read on different photography forums where people ask for C&C, and someone will invariably ask them what they wanted to express with the photo in question. Is this perhaps an indirect way of saying it's not a good shot? Or do these people honestly believe each photo that is taken has to tell a story? Can't the photographer simply take a picture because they liked seeing the scene and wanted to capture it without actually giving it a deeper thought? Does this kind of thinking necessarily suggest not much thought and effort was put into making the said photograph?

    I myself often finf myself giving likes or complimentary comments to phoyos because of the simple fact that I believe they were beautifully captured, exposed, and composed. I don't seek a meaning or "story" behind a photo? In fact, whatever meaning the viewer assigns to the photo is nothing but a reflection of one's self and there is no way we can infer the intended story behind it.

    Any thoughts on this?

  2. #2
    Shadowman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    29,203
    Real Name
    John

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Quote Originally Posted by batmura View Post
    Have you ever thought whether it's a photographer's mission to tell a story or convey a certain feeling with their work? Every now and then, I read on different photography forums where people ask for C&C, and someone will invariably ask them what they wanted to express with the photo in question. Is this perhaps an indirect way of saying it's not a good shot? Or do these people honestly believe each photo that is taken has to tell a story? Can't the photographer simply take a picture because they liked seeing the scene and wanted to capture it without actually giving it a deeper thought? Does this kind of thinking necessarily suggest not much thought and effort was put into making the said photograph?

    I myself often finf myself giving likes or complimentary comments to phoyos because of the simple fact that I believe they were beautifully captured, exposed, and composed. I don't seek a meaning or "story" behind a photo? In fact, whatever meaning the viewer assigns to the photo is nothing but a reflection of one's self and there is no way we can infer the intended story behind it.

    Any thoughts on this?
    That's a question usually asked when the subject or theme is vague or there is nothing extraordinary about the image or the caption does not relate to the image.

  3. #3
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    12,356
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Of course a photo does not have to tell a story, but on the other hand it can.

    There are no rules or suggestions one way or the other. My case in point would be an abstract image; the story (if it has one) is whatever you decide to make up.

  4. #4
    Digital's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Carrollton, Georgia (USA)
    Posts
    2,127
    Real Name
    Bruce

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    I am going to add fuel to the fire. I believe most photographers have a REASON for taking a photograph. That reason is usually known only to them at the time at the time of capture. That reason is their story. When a viewer sees the photo it maybe apparent or not what the reason why the photo was taken.
    I find that pics posted on CiC most of the time are composed so that I, as a viewer, have some idea the reason why the photo was taken so on a personal level the reason (story) becomes mine.
    When we view a bee on a flower I assume that the photographer wanted to convey a bee on a flower. That was the motive for taking the photo in the first place. That was the reason that person captured the photo. It was a story personal to him.
    In this example most of us when viewing would not have to look for some deeper meaning in this photo.
    I think for discussion sake for most photos I should say every photo has a reason why it was taken, and that is the photographer's story. Whether the viewer can surmise what the reason is, is beside the point to me of this discussion.
    It really all depends on your definition of story.
    This is all so subjective.

    Bruce

  5. #5
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    For me, not always... I always appreciate a beautiful or interesting photo but I suppose the photos that tell a story are more compelling.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Does a photo always have to tell a story?

    No.

  7. #7
    Digital's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Carrollton, Georgia (USA)
    Posts
    2,127
    Real Name
    Bruce

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Does a photo always have to tell a story?

    No.
    I digress. As stated in my earlier post there is some reason why the photographer takes a photo. That is his/her story.
    Again, it depends on your definition of story.
    As a result I disagree with Colin's statement.
    My definition of story does not mean that there is some deeper meaning in every photo. Some have it, however IMHO most do not.

    Bruce

  8. #8
    tbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Dawson Creek British Columbia Canada
    Posts
    2,168
    Real Name
    Trevor Reeves

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    My son, with the Masters Degree in Philosophy, says all human constructs have a story. The creator/artist may or may not have full knowledge of their cultural/social influences and importance or impact of the work culturally and socially.

    It gave me a headache discussing this with him so you are on your own mulling this over.

  9. #9
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    12,356
    Real Name
    Manfred Mueller

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    My son, with the Masters Degree in Philosophy, says all human constructs have a story. The creator/artist may or may not have full knowledge of their cultural/social influences and importance or impact of the work culturally and socially.

    It gave me a headache discussing this with him so you are on your own mulling this over.

    My brother-in-law went back and did his Masters in Philosophy for something to do after he retired (i.e. he was around 60 when he got it). Every so often he will come up with something equally profound and I usually will say something even more profound like "that can't be right" or "that doesn't any sense. If I'm not in a polite mood I can be a bit more blunt and we will move on to some other topic...

    If someone shows me statistically valid data, based on a solid experimental protocol, and I will pay attention; otherwise they aren't going to get too far with me (and that included photographic "rules"). I have an engineering degree, so I want to see the facts if some makes a statement that needs to be validated...

  10. #10
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Glenfarg, Scotland
    Posts
    19,717
    Real Name
    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    My son, with the Masters Degree in Philosophy, says all human constructs have a story. The creator/artist may or may not have full knowledge of their cultural/social influences and importance or impact of the work culturally and socially.
    I like him. This is the world I inhabit.

    Whereas, whilst I respect it, this is an alien world to me .............

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    If someone shows me statistically valid data, based on a solid experimental protocol, .... I have an engineering degree, so I want to see the facts if some makes a statement that needs to be validated...

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    North West of England
    Posts
    6,186
    Real Name
    John

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    I can only speak for myself. I only hope to share what I see with others. That may be a story, it may just be the pleasure stimulated by the aesthetics of what I see either directly or in my minds eye (from which you will gather that I am not of the SOOC fraternity). So I would say that an image does not of necessity have to tell a story to be a good image. If some one in effect has to ask "why did you take it?", then perhaps it fails on all of these levels.

  12. #12
    dubaiphil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Northampton
    Posts
    1,850
    Real Name
    Phil Page

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Photojournalism should tell a story

  13. #13
    gaijin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Lille, France
    Posts
    83
    Real Name
    Allen Conway

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Well, I don't believe that saying that all human constructs have a story is saying very much, particularly when completed with a cop out stating that an artist may or may not be conscious of what the story is (if I have understood correctly!).

    Photographic stories are told, surely, when the photographer thinks there is a story to tell. The danger is that the photograph might then just become the illustration of the photographer's story - the basis of photo-journalism I suppose. So, I suggest if you start with the story and then take the photo all is well, and if you take the photo then find the story all is perhaps not well. Not always well, at least.

    In photography, like in Art (whatever that is) you are sharing some kind of an experience with the artist, something more nebulous than a story. Whether it be the same one or not is perhaps unimportant. You may also prefer it to be fortuitous. You obviously already share some kind of cultural awareness of what constitutes art.

    Now, if there's no story, what's the point of giving a photo a title?

  14. #14

    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    4,443
    Real Name
    wm c boyer

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    All of human behavior is "need" driven...food, reproduction, housing, companionship and, lest we forget, ego.

    I would suggest that the reason, we serious folks, continue to indulge in photography is
    "can I take that type of image".
    Then we try to take/make that image better, whatever that means.

    Then one day, at least for the really serious among us, comes the question,
    can I cross that fuzzy line and "Create an Object D'Art"

    A photograph does not need to tell a story but...that object d'art will tell a story. IMHO.

  15. #15
    Shadowman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    29,203
    Real Name
    John

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    This photo became a completely different story from the one it originally represented. Sometimes the photographer has very little control over how an image is interpreted, sort of like a short story or poem, it depends on other devices (such as captions, alliteration, or cultural awareness).

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/20...irl/index-text

  16. #16
    MrB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Hertfordshire, England
    Posts
    1,042
    Real Name
    Philip

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    I can agree with the sentiments of this paragraph from the OP -

    Quote Originally Posted by batmura View Post
    I myself often find myself giving likes or complimentary comments to photos because of the simple fact that I believe they were beautifully captured, exposed, and composed. I don't seek a meaning or "story" behind a photo. In fact, whatever meaning the viewer assigns to the photo is nothing but a reflection of one's self and there is no way we can infer the intended story behind it.
    Regarding the OP question, the simple answer is "No", because it cannot.

    A photo is a representation of one particular moment of frozen time, but a story is a sequence of events in the passage of time. A photo might or might not stimulate the imagination of its viewer, who might or might not then create a story in his own mind. That process might or might not have been the intention of the photographer. Moreover, any story created in the viewer's mind might be quite different from the photographer's story, if one was intended.

    Regarding posts #8, #9 and #10, I would hope that we would want to inhabit one world, in which we strive to develop our artistic talents, our ability to reason, and our scientific knowledge, in order more effectively to enhance our understanding and our creativity.

    Philip

  17. #17
    drjuice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    310
    Real Name
    Virginia

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    I'm with Colin on this issue. No!

    One of the pictures in my top ten collection is a dandelion gone to seed where the sunlight was exactly at the angle I wanted (even without having to perform some sort of contortion to be able to catch it with my camera), the air was clear, and a green bug was flying around (s/he finally landed elsewhere). The picture is absolutely fine without the back story of how I got there, what I liked about the image that caused me to use 35MB of storage on my disk to capture it, etc.

    virginia

  18. #18
    davidedric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Cheshire, England
    Posts
    3,042
    Real Name
    Dave

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    I would hope that we would want to inhabit one world, in which we strive to develop our artistic talents, our ability to reason, and our scientific knowledge, in order more effectively to enhance our understanding and our creativity.
    +1, I do try to inhabit both. Though it took me a long time from a strict scientific upbringing to realise I can.

  19. #19
    Glenn NK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    1,510

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    My avatar is one of my images.

    Does it tell a story? Maybe, but for the life of me, I don't know what it is.

    Maybe it's not a photograph.

    Glenn

  20. #20
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Detroit, Michigan
    Posts
    1,009
    Real Name
    Lex

    Re: Does a photograph have to tell a story?

    Photographs do not have to tell a story. Great photographs frequently do, but a story isn't the only way to amaze. Unusual subjects frequently stand on their own merits, as does anything broadly considered beautiful.

    As has been explained, two people are unlikely to draw exactly the same story from a shot, but both of them are thinking about it, spinning a narrative for before and/or after the click. To me, a great photograph must make the viewer stop and take note, regardless of the reason.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •