Dean O'Brien's Blog

351mc Photography and Narrative: David Campbell live seminar via Skype

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Earlier today we had a seminar via Skype with David Campbell.  Questions could be posted via twitter using the #phonar hash tag.  This was a whole new experience for me but it worked surprisingly well.

Many subjects were discussed and it was great to be part of a bigger worldwide community engaging online with David to gain a greater understanding of the many challenges at we face as modern day image makers.

One issue that relates to my own project is that of narrative.  Narrative being how we link things together and give an account.  The most common being linear, where the story will have a beginning, middle and an end, although this is not the only way to tell a story.  David explained that ‘Narratives are not found objects.  It is how you put various components and issues together’.  They then create and form the narrative.  There is much emphasis on using audio within the narrative and David managed to expand on this for us stating that ‘You decide what is the best approach for the story at you want to tell’.  He did stress though that the quality of recording is very important explaining that people will not tolerate bad audio.  They will just switch off.

Research is another area that was discussed.  He explained that reading is so fundamental to researching and putting your project together.  Simon Norfolk being a prime example.  His project in Afghanistan took lots of research to make it successful.

David stated that ‘People who do not do enough research drop into a stereotypical project and create what they have seen previously’.

One area  that interested me was the future of journalism.  Many are under the impression that people can pick up a camera phone and put a photojournalist out of business.  This is not the case.  David explained that what distinguishes a good amateur from a journalist is that ‘they’ (the amateur) are not interested in the story.  The amateurs are not too concerned about using their visual piece to prompt us to think in their direction.  This is the difference and where photojournalists still play a massive role in image making.  People still want to make sense of story.

How we display our work is an never ending debate but David recommended that ‘Whether it be podcast or video need to decide which is best to tell the story.  Use as many channels as are appropriate for your audience’.

We need to also look at how we market ourselves to our viewers to think more about how we are perceived.  Jonathan Worth mentioned a quote about two candle makers.  One saw himself as a maker of candles and yet the other saw himself as a maker of light.  When the gas lamp was invented one was in a significantly better position than the other.

The last piece of advice from David for all of us about to enter the world of professional image making….’Remember that you are always at the beginning and make a choice about the story that you want to tell’.


Written by Dean O'Brien

November 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm

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