Marieke ten Wolde's blog

Documentary photography, and other things interesting enough to bother you with

Story Telling

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Last Sunday I went to the Noorderlicht Photofestival 2011 in Groningen. It was a long trip to Groningen, and even though the NS added quite some delay, but it was definitely worth it.
The festival shows the work of 90 photographers with the subject ‘Metropolis, City Life in the Urban Age’. It is a very varied view on the subject with the photos beautifully exhibited in 3 locations in the city center.

I also went to the follow up of the PhotoStories conference (earlier this year in Rotterdam) with a presentation from Bjarke Mirthu of Storyplanet (you can find the slides he used on his blog: ), the presentations of 3 multimedia stories (Ilse Frech, Dirk Jan Visser, Ilvy Njiokiktjien) followed by a panel discussion.

Many aspects of Photo Stories, which nowadays more and more includes audio, video, graphics and text, were covered. Sometimes these other media are included to an extend that I was not sure anymore why it was still called a photo story, apart from the fact that the makers were, originally at least, photographers. Not that that really matters as long as the results is good and fits with the story.
However for myself it raises the question if I need to be more serious about the rather vague plans to also do some moving images and sound. With the work on Tibet I am now looking at producing text as well, although the result is far from satisfactory right now. I think quite soon it will not be enough anymore to ‘just’ concentrate on the images and that I will need to acquire a lot of new skill or end up in a small photo niche.

The main thing I took away from the conference is that:
– people like to listen to and see stories (as they have done for thousands of years);
– if the story is good and captivating you can find an audience, and that with the new media and the new ways of publishing (internet, iPad, etc) there is a wider range of options available to the photographer;
– that audience might even be willing to pay for the story, although that remains a struggle as was pointed out by as well the audience as the panel.


Written by Marieke ten Wolde

September 17, 2011 at 08:23

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