How to Tell a Story with Pictures
There comes a moment in every woman's life when her friendships are tested, her family bonds are strained, and she is forced to reckon with a simple question: How many pictures from someone else's vacation can I endure before my eyes glaze over? That is usually followed by an even worse moment when the woman realizes she's guilty of the same crime. The problem is rarely the photography itself, rather it's an issue of volume: No one wants to see 28 photos of the same waterfall taken from virtually the same angle. If you're making a Facebook album from your own vacation and you're not sure which shots to include, Tim suggests aiming for range. "In a series of images, it's nice to see both close-up detail photographs as well as something shot from farther out," he says. "The details are as interesting as the big picture, and they help add rhythm." In other words, one wide shot of the waterfall, followed by a close-up picture of you at the top of the waterfall, and then, please, no more waterfalls.
Let a Picture Be Your Punch Line
When Mike and Tim decide which stories to animate, they look for ones where they can add a visual joke. Mike points to Miss Devine as an example. "It's already funny when they're talking about how much it would hurt when Miss Devine braided your hair, and you can hear them laughing, but we had an opportunity to add a joke by showing her pulling the hair back and the exaggerated response to the pain later on the pillow." Anyone can make an ordinary picture funnier by adding a caption. Say you're throwing a party to celebrate your brainy daughter's graduation; you could include a photo of The Collected Works of William Shakespeare and refer to it as her favorite childhood toy.
Expand Your Idea of a Kodak Moment
A few years ago, Tim and Mike were considering making an animated film about their own childhood, and Tim did some preliminary sketches. When he showed them to Mike, what stood out were the quotidian details. "One of our jobs in our house growing up was to set the table. There were these very ritual things about how we did it: where we put the fork and the knife, what kinds of napkin holders we had, things like that." The next time you dust off the camera to record a birthday party or the prom, leave it out when the event is over as a reminder to yourself to shoot the quieter family traditions, too, like dinnertime or movie night. "In 20 years," Tim says, "when the kids are grown up and have moved away, those are the everyday experiences that you'll want to have memories of."
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