Telling a story with pictures

by Paul Chapman | 7 January 2020 | Posted in: Inspiration

A very enjoyable and indeed essential part of photography is the ability to tell a story with your photographs – this is especially true when working with ISTA. Festivals are set up with a whole narrative in mind and it’s my job to capture what the artistic director (AD) is relaying to the students and artists during the process and at the end of the festival, to the parents and greater school community who attend the final sharing.


Firstly this a collaborative effort between AD, Rep, artists and the local teachers supporting from the host school. It begins long before feet are set on soil at the host school with a myriad of emails, information and ideas passing between the participating parties, all sharing their knowledge and ideas for how they would like to see the festival narrative, according to the starting point, unfold. This is the start of a valuable information stream for me to pick up on, as it begins the narrative arc that this particular team are trying to achieve. I need to empathise with all parties to try and pick up on the large and small stories appearing in and around this narrative.

Once electronic words have been exchanged, the artists meet in person at the host school. This gives me great insight into the dynamic between team members that I’m likely to encounter during the process and I can start to pick out who will be interacting with whom and how. This is very important as I can only communicate via images and as such, visual communication is top of my priorities when I am considering the ‘who, what and when’ to photograph.

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