Learning log (Part five) – Narrative and illustration

The content of this part of my learning log is “putting the subject first” – a departure from the course content so far, where composition and design have been the focus. I have given some consideration to the exercises and techniques to help me to tell a story within a single picture and for my assignment, a series of pictures.

Project: Illustration

Exercise: A story in a photograph   

This photo of a couple sat in a station waiting room hints at something happening, although nothing did! The girl is huddled close to the man and yet their body language suggests neither seems relaxed with the other. They appeared to be deep in thought and there was no conversation at all while I was in the room – the were still there, sitting in silence,  when my train arrived half an hour later.

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Exercise: Evidence of action

Here I have chosen a couple of photographs in which it can be seen that something has happened.

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The broken crock on the shore of the lake implied that it had been washed up. Yet on closer inspection I discovered that it belonged to the hotel where we were staying, overlooking the lake. A potential story here perhaps?

Freshly peeled orange. The culprit?

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A walker!

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Exercise: Symbols

Asked to consider visual analogies – symbols for the following;

Growth – A child’s height progress etched in a door frame

or, a new leaf unfurling

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Excess – A person draped in jewels and gold

stock pile of food

or, a huge pile of clothes.

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Crime – Signs of forced entry.

Blue flashing lights and cordon tape.

or, mug shots of criminals

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Silence – Person wearing earplugs, eyes closed, relaxing.

or, spacious, empty church .


Poverty – Makeshift houses – shanty town.

or, a street person.

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Exercise: Juxtaposition

By putting two elements together to suggest a relationship is the mainstay of illustration. One or both can be symbols, but this is not necessary, more importantly is to suggest a connection.

I took this shot of my husband (a civil engineer) next to a man he holds in great esteem – Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

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The brief suggests, originality counts for a great deal when taking a photograph of someone with a possession, or the results of their hobby – this image covers the latter! I love the suggestion that this wine merchant is snoozing as a result of an afternoon tasting his latest vintage!


Confrontation between two stone carved figures. This was taken at an angle to show the female face in a stronger position (red in colour, looming large and slightly forward in the frame). The angry looking male is depicted as the weaker of the two (a neutral colour, slightly lower and smaller in the frame).









An average sized adult in front of this giant. The viewer gets an idea of the sheer size of the New Zealand Kauri tree.

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Finally an unusual shot. The different styles of street lighting are juxtaposed to each other – the lights to the left of the frame appear to be bowing to the upright spotlights on the right. The image creates an interesting design shot with shapes and angles. I decided to show it in monochrome because it sharpens the detail and keeps the eye focused on the subject rather than the background.

Illustration Juxta_00008


Exercise: Rain

I am to produce a photograph for the front cover of a magazine, one that leaves the viewer in no doubt about the subject heading.


Above: from Brian brake’s  “Monsoon series 1960″. The “Monsoon Girl” image was created using a watering can for effect, not rain!  Inspired by this, I took the following image using a garden sprinkler, aiming my camera into the sun.

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We get plenty of the wet stuff up here, so no problem taking the next two shots! I particularly like the first image, where I have left space for the magazine heading across the top of the picture. The second shot would need to be re-framed in portrait for a magazine cover.

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