Wildlife photographer Chris Weston explains how simple filmmaking techniques can help you tell a photographic story
How to create a series in five easy steps
The key to creating a successful image series is to plan the shoot and take pictures that follow a ‘script’.
Knowing in advance the story you want to tell will make capturing the individual images both easier and quicker because you will know precisely what you’re looking for.
It will also ensure that your series is well structured and has a life of its own, avoiding ‘patchwork portfolios’ – series made up of vaguely connected but unrelated images. An effective series combines the power of an individual image with the continuity and flow of a film.
Shooting a series requires you to change the way you see the world, and challenges you to think in sequences. It’s a technical and artistic challenge that takes much forethought and commitment. However, you will find that making the effort and taking it step-by-step pays huge dividends in the long run.
1. Research your subject
Find out all there is to know about your subject. The more information you have to hand, the more effective your series is likely to be. Remember that for a series to be interesting, it has to tell a story that hasn’t been told before.
2. Create a shooting list
From your research, it will help if you write a list of all the individual images you need to create your series. At this stage, it doesn’t have to be in any particular order as that can be done later. Just make sure you’ve missed nothing out.
3. Visualise the images
Good photographs don’t happen by chance. They are conceived and created by the person behind the camera – you! Think about what the image will look like in a perfect world. Draw it on paper if you can. It will help you to notice the image when it happens.
4. Create the photographs
The images that make up a series don’t have to be captured all at the same time, although they can be. If captured across separate shoots, keep a sample of the images you’ve already created to help with your continuity.
5. Put the images together
When compiling the images into a series for display, think about how they will be seen by the viewer. Symmetry, balance and flow between images (as well as in individual frames) all come into play when creating a series.
Chris became a professional wildlife photographer in 2001 after leaving his job in IT to follow his passion. His clients include the BBC, ITV, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian and National Geographic. To see more of his work visit www.chrisweston.photography