This article appeared in April issue of Terrascape, a travel magazine where I write a column on photography
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When you put together a sequence of pictures, they effectively tell a story far more quickly and easily than what words can do. More often than not, we focus on the objects and expressions in front of us and not think about getting behind the scene. You may have bought good-looking pots from a potter’s shop several times, but have you ever thought of finding out how they make these pots? After you take pictures of beautiful pots at display, it would be worthwhile visiting their backyard and make images of a pile of mud slowly taking a definite shape. When you come back and put together a few good images from each part of the process—from kneading the clay to giving it a final shape—they can tell a story so effectively that you have need very few words to go with the images.
The costumes for a Kathakali show, unpacked for the night’s performance
Choose subjects that interest you. It is not easy to create a story on every topic. Choose a subject with which you can associate and enjoy spending time to understand and learn. Creating a photo sequence requires studying the subject and knowing it well to ensure that every aspect of the story is covered. So it is easier to work on a topic that naturally interests you.
In the initial stages of getting ready, the artist applies make up on his own
Spend time with your subject. Start your work by leaving the camera at home! Take time to understand every aspect of the story you are about to capture. It helps to create a story in your mind before you are ready to shoot and tell your picture-story to everyone.
They are helped by make up artists in the next stage
Be trigger happy. Even with careful planning and study, it is never easy to conceive every image that will become a part of the final story. Keep clicking and never miss an opportunity to shoot every moment. Professional photographers often take hundreds of photographs to make a story in just half a dozen images.
While some are being helped with their make-up, others relax as they await their turn
Not everything is a story. A sequence of related images may not always make a story. Putting together five good images of an animal, a monument or any such entity will not make a chronological sequence that speaks of itself. A surprisingly simple guideline helps here: a story is something that has a definite beginning and an end and a series of events in the middle that help achieve the end. Also see if the events have visually compelling aspects (like a potter turning the wheel) suitable for making a photo story.
This image sequence was shot during a Kathakali performance. The images not just show the action on stage, but also depict all the work that happens behind the stage. The actors spend more than half a day to put on their make up and costumes, giving the photographer ample time to document the events before the show.