Visual Storytelling

arch
©RG Sherman / Passage

People have been telling stories visually since they found images could be drawn on a cave wall. This evolved to painting and drawing on other surfaces, to processing images on film via photography, then cinematography, now digitally.

A photograph used to be documentary evidence of a reality. That truth is kept alive via photojournalism. However, with the rise of digital editing software, doubt has entered the picture (pun intended). The picture above is a composite I did using the six photographs below (from wikicommons, all within the public domain with free use permission):

I wanted to use an image of the Egyptian God Anubis combined with soldiers. The image began with the ocean as a backdrop but that quickly changed when I came upon the wonderful arch. It evolved from there. It is open to interpretation by the viewer. The meaning is ambiguous. This next image tells a simpler story, without much ambiguity:

FADE Henrys Lk and lilies FINAL
© RG Sherman

It seems clear cut. A pond surrounded by vineyards. However, it is really two images (shot on film) though you would never know it:

The same with this image:

FADE CA coast w deer
© RG Sherman

A combination of:

However, photo manipulation has been going on long before the digital revolution. Ansel Adams manipulated his film images with filters, creating, for example, a darker sky using a red filter in this image of Half Dome:

monolith
Monolith, Face of Half Dome © Ansel Adams

Jerry Uelsman composites his film images extensively in the darkroom:

uelsman sm
© Jerry Uelsman

My mother was a painter. I didn’t inherit much of her ability with a brush. Photography is my art, my way of conveying what I see outside of me, and inside my head. I started with film and learned how to see stories around me and capture them in camera. I never did any darkroom work. Now Photoshop is my darkroom, where I can meld what I see outside with what I see inside, enabling me to tell visual stories only limited by my imagination and editing skills. I can even create paintings.

Painted lilies
© RG Sherman

4 thoughts on “Visual Storytelling

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