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Storytelling and Album Design

Lesson 2 of 14

How an Album Tells a Story

Jared Platt

Storytelling and Album Design

Jared Platt

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Lesson Info

2. How an Album Tells a Story

Lesson Info

How an Album Tells a Story

I'm going to pull out an album from a wedding at the grand canyon and and this this is a leather craftsman album it's actually a physical album with it's it's actually got physical prints inside so it's cut prints and in those prints are actually embedded inside of a matted page so this is a black mat then there's a white page and then the photograph is pasted inside of that on that white page so there's actually a physical ridge between here and here. So it's not a printed paige it's literally an old style album but with thin math so it's a little bit more elegant than the old style albums that your mom might have had but you can see that when you start with a book so you you start you know with this is getting ready and getting ready is kind of like it's busy it's really busy and so you can see, you know, fussing and getting the you know makeup on and you know, this kind of you know fussing with the dress and then over here is calm you see that and just the dress is just waiting for ...

and then get it on right so there's that fussy ness that goes with it so when you look at this kind of a page it's the fact that you have multiple images on a page creates business in the same way that if you were to go to a print let's go to this image on screen here and you can see that this is the end of a of trey jin's battle with cancer he's just been pronounced cancer free he gets to go to a soccer game and he's the he's the honorary team captain and they all lift him up you know? But but that excitement and that energy is created by the busy nous off one photograph so there's just a lot happening in that one photograph and quite frankly I'm looking at this image and if I were to crop this image and take it like that they're that changes the image do you see the difference between that image? So this is before and then me game go there so before and after you see a big difference in the in the way the crop helps to tell the story because if you go before this there's a lot of dead space down here and so that dead space doesn't help to tell the story of energy excitement it's just it's nothing but once we go and crop the image now because over here on the left hand side at the bottom you've got this little kid's head and we've cropped it just enough so that there's some, you know, a little bit of a shirt still showing so that there's some energy going on there there's energy going on across over here so there's that creates energy here, all of these hands going up this triangle up in the corner, everything creates energy because it's so closed in and cropped by the frame that that creates energy, all that movement, so that crowded, confusing mess of hands and smiles and, you know, kid and that's that creates energy. So when you come back here, then to the book page, the book page creates energy by the number of photographs you put in it there's a little bit of energy and here because you see people in it, you see this little girls, I love this little girl's head just kind of peeking out the corner and so there's a little bit of energy there and there's a little bit energy here in a little bit energy here, but then, if you want the feeling of a lot of energy, then you just crowd the thing with photographs, and now the crowded nature of the photographs creates the energy that you want, and so it works both ways. When you're telling a story with just one photograph, you're taking elements and details, and you're putting them all together and you're trying to crop it in the right way, and and the same thing happens on a page on a page you're trying to do the same thing you're trying to tell a story with a bunch of details, you put them all together, and the closer you put those together, the more energy it creates and then when you go over here with one photograph nice and big, that becomes nice and calm, but you'll notice that the photograph itself is also calm. So there's one element that shining out and then the rest of it's kind of dark and and I, you know, burn this down a little bit so that there wouldn't be any really major things sticking out except for the dress, and then we put it on a page that's calm next to a page that's busy, so then you really see the contrast between the two. So as you're telling the story, you're telling story in that way, but occasionally you're going to run into a you know page where you want to, you know, just kind of tell a story with just one photograph or maybe a little bit more you might want to, you know, like here you see, like here's, the wedding going on and all of the little details and really, if you go to a wedding, most of it's just a snapshot in your head of yeah, there's a lot of stuff that happened really you know there's like someone takes the sacrament someone does this someone walks down an aisle there's like this there's a kiss there's a you know and it just all happens but then there are little moments that air like everything stops time stops and there's the moment so again we're contrast ing that peaceful what you saw at the wedding that was like that moment in time like this is amazing and then all the other stuff that happened is like it's just that all happened but this is what you felt all right so so we want we want to accomplish and then of course we've got to tell the story there's you know the ring exchange there's some laughs there's a kiss there's you know we're done and so we can tell that in a serial way as well one image after another this is I like to think of this is a slide show it's like the boom boom boom boom done so there's that way of telling the story as well where you're just doing things in a serial way this is a way of telling stories in a much more you know uh omni present you know on missions way where you just see everything that happened all at the same time and so you just get the sense of there was a lot of stuff that happened and this is the way that you freeze time with one photograph and usually you freeze time with the photograph that is peaceful because you want it to stop and you want people to take a breath on people to feel that moment and go wow that's a moment or like our photograph with trey gin you know where it's not it's not necessarily a beautiful moment it's a powerful moment you look at the photograph outrage in here and you say wow that's a moment I need to take that in and recognize what's happening in this moment and so that's when you separate things out so you have to think of telling stories and this is in our first segment our total goal here is to talk about how we successfully tell stories when you're telling a story you have to think about it in the same way that you think about music how many of you play an instrument or listening like are any of you musicians three of us okay I assume everybody likes music though so when you think of a song think about the cadence of the song how is a song structured you have an intro and then you're introduced to a concept which is usually the first verse and then there's course not chorus basically helps you to understand where the song is going to go so you have a chorus kind of takes you out of the verse doesn't it? You know usually the verse has its own musicality to it and then the chorus kind of rises above it gets more powerful gets you know bigger or maybe it gets you know softer or maybe it slows down a little bit or or maybe it's just one word of course becomes like one where you have the songs that just course one word over and over again or maybe it's like you know, one line and they keep saying the line but the line is there to give you a break from the story it's to give you a break from the details and the difficulty of what you're hearing or the humor of what you're hearing and to pull you away and say there's a store or lesson to be learned from this and then I'm gonna start you back in again to the story I'm going to start telling you more about it I'm going to tell you you know, the country songs are great for this because they tell a story that you know the girl meets the boy and then they back out and they say some very catchy phrase that somehow is a turnaround of another phrase on dh that's tying all the story together so it ties what you're going to hear to what you did just hear and maybe it's maybe it's subtle enough that you don't know where it's going to go but usually by the first chorus you know where the song is going to go because it's not all that subtle and then you go into the next verse and it says boy and girl get in fights and have struggles and love each other but it's a tough time and then you go back into that chorus and it reminds you hey, we're telling you more than just a story there's an overarching idea that we want you to understand right but it's still again takes you out music musically wise it takes you to a different feeling and then it jumps you back into the story and at the end you know the the guy the girl finally decides you know that she's had enough and she's going to leave or the girl finally figures out that the guy just needs this or the guy figures out that he's a jerk and he needs to be better whatever you know and so there's a good or a bad ending to the my favorite is the garth brooks song where the girl actually ends up killing the guy have you heard that? Yeah there's a verse where it's what is this thunder rolls so he sings at two different ways so there's one way where you leave it up tio like there's no, you don't know what happens but it's like this brooding something might happen and then he seems in another way and I think he does it in concert and when he doesn't concert he actually has another verse where she comes in she shoots him right and it's great because it just ends it just ends the story like wow that's it's his way of saying you know what guys if you're treating your girl like this you probably ought to get shot you know like it it's a good it's a great song and it's really powerful in the thunder rolls is the theme you know and so you've got that amazing chorus that comes in and it and it really brings all the story home plus thunder is a cool and that the way they play with the thunder sounds like thunder and it's really cool so on and I'm not much of a country listener anyway and so when I like a country song that's a big deal so I mean I love that country song so anyway although it's interesting country now is pretty much the same as other music like it's all merged together so I think in the end all things merged together right in the end I think in the end everything kind of becomes somewhat similar and like I noticed that it used to be in the eighties we were very segmented you know you have the jocks in the nerds and the this and then that in that you know and if you dress this way you're definitely that person if you dress this way we're definitely that person but now you know you can have a skater that dresses differently and it's kind of cool that people can dress differently and they're accepted by their friends like you know I'm the nice dresser and you're the bad dresser and we're okay or together so anyway so back to our story see how I just did a chorus I just went away and then I'm coming back so so you go through this kind of up and down in music and then there's usually on interim part of music we call that the bridge and the bridge is really there for one purpose and one purpose alone that song's too long and I need to take you out of the song for a second and let you stop thinking about this song and do something completely different so that you don't shut it off and then we go back into the song so you'll notice that some songs that are really short don't even have a bridge and they're just really catchy and they just go through it and then they're done but bridges are to keep you satisfied with song to give you something a little different and then you go back into the next chorus where you go back in the next verse or whatever and then at the end you either have like a really does it up up and then ends or you have like in the eighties everything faded out it's like they never knew how to end their songs it's like they just went and you know, they kept singing this course over and over and over again, and we just did it and you're like, how in the world naturally would that ever occur? What someone's? Just nine and they just start walking away and that's how that's how it ends, you know, it's like that's why they started fading out because you're always come back I like this often come back, you know I got I don't understand how that works but so now think about people stories there are stories and think about what we tell stories and all sorts of ways we write books, we do plays so we have orel histories that are being told to us on stage we have poetry, recite ations. We have books and pictures and albums with slide shows, we have movies, so we have all sorts of storytelling capabilities and people tell stories all the time, including music. Some of those stories start with a big bang and they end with a big bang or they start really soft and they lead you in and then there's a big crescendo and then it it goes back down and that stories you know it's very subtle and you're not sure where it's going and then there's a shocker and then and then doing with mohr story and then there's a shocker you know, that kind of thing, and then there's those that just build over time, and they're just boring stories, but they build, they build, they build, and then at the very end, there's like a surprise ending. So all of that, another of those stories that you someone's telling you a story and it just keeps it goes, and then it starts falling, and then after a while you're bored of the story and then it just and it goes nowhere on, then it just disappears because you've stopped listening, they're probably still talking, you know? And you're like, I know he's talking, but I I can't understand what he's saying, and now I'm thinking about what I got to do today, and now I'm thinking about tomorrow now, oh, there's, a bird, and then what? Re talking, you know, and that's that's like the eighties song, that just kind of peters out and you don't you finally stop listening to it right on dh. So we have all those different types of stories, and the question is what's your story and how is it being told? But you can take a cue from music because music it is, if it's if it's good music of its being played on the radio, chances are the person has talent, it doesn't get to that point. If that's, not a talented person, might not be your style of music, but that's a talented person, and so that talent is being displayed. Tio, listen to it and see how they tell that story and and find find people like I think sting is an amazing story teller. I have a friend named kevin burdick who tells great stories. Billy joel is a great storyteller, elton john is a great story tell it like, find those kind of musicians and listen to their songs, and how do they tell a story? And then try and visually copy that style? And what you'll find is that when you do that, you tell stories in bursts, so if you have an album, that's forty spreads long, you're not going to keep it high intensity the whole time you've got to give us something to rest, you've got to say, take a break, we're going to let you rest from this story for a second. We're going to do something funny, take a picture of a kid doing something funny, and then we'll go back in to the story again, and you've got toe do some places, like in here, where we you know show a bunch of stuff happening and we get you excited and there's lots of energy happening and then we give you a break and we say ok now rest and just look you've got to take the opportunity in some cases to just have a photograph on a page with nothing else just gives a myspace you know small pictures with lots of white space tell a really big story because it becomes so simple and so peaceful and so time that you realize that this is a very delicate moment it's a very small thing it's a very precious thing a very large photograph tells a very different story same photograph very large says something very different than something very small and so if you listen to music and you pay attention to a way that the way that all works and the way that cave ins happens you know maybe you want to start subtly and move into it or maybe you want to start you know big with a big bang so let me show you another album really quickly this one is made by kiss wedding books and it's called their tusk in line it's super beautiful leather but then it's got these very soft pages so the pages there's no glare to him at all very soft pages and you can see there see that so we stay we I am starting a wedding album with no wedding pictures why is supposing doing that? Anybody grab a mic to set the scene set the scene okay but what is that thing? The thing I mean I could I mean there's plenty of wedding photographers that you know start by taking a picture of the front of the like if you're more married at the royal palm's hotel in phoenix they start by taking a picture of the wall this is royal palm's on it you know and like hi I'm introducing you to the royal palm's I don't care that you know really the name of the royal palms so why why are we introducing the scene what's the point um tone for the whole setting a tone okay now think about music what is the tone of this story? Is it a done ah now it's not is build it's like it's creeping in maybe you don't even hear the music from and you just hear like a soft cello or use you here maybe a temp une drum just kind of thing you know there's something setting that tone this feeling of softness big but soft right? Because the place that they're getting married is magical this is a magical spot like a t least for me it is and I think for the groom it was because this this wedding specifically and will work on this album but this wedding specifically the groom grew up going to this spot every summer and so he was in this little village every summer with his godfather working on his godfather's farm, and so this is why he chose to come back to the spot and so it's it's, this magical place? I mean, how could this not be magical? Right? Those cliffs and I mean the white house and, you know, I mean it's beautiful, and then when you go into, you know, the wedding itself, you'll see how magical it is, but we're setting the tone, not with wedding pictures, but with look, this is where the scene starts and every movie does this too. We always set the tone by, you know, flyover of new york city, and then we go to the coffee shop or we do, like, you know, landscape shots of the moors and, you know, scotland, and then we go to the castle, so we always set the tone this is where this story resides, but the way you tell that the pictures that you use helped tow to set that scene in that story, so we have to set this scene first, then we can go into ok, this is the morning we're starting, we're moving, and then, you know, when we shot this there's a lot, this is the whole day before so we spent a whole day with them before walking around I've got pictures of them up in here but in just normal clothing I've got the pictures you know, running around down here throwing rocks and the water and whatever so there's lots of documentary stuff that goes on but we want to just tell the story the wedding day so but this is something that they will remember but it's something also that you can relate to so for me I'm always trying to tell the story to people trying to tell the story to my client and I'm trying to tell the story to the world and if I can and that's another thing this is for personal photography for personal photography a lot of people forget that they're also telling the story to other people so my sister makes books like this for every single one of her travels so she goes on like a family vacation and then she'll just design a little book and she'll put it on herself right and it's really for her and her family to like, open it up and look at it you know, I just remember what they went there, right? But secretly she hopes that someone will walk in her at her house and pull oh, you went to you know tahiti and then open it up and go ooh and you know god do and god go in awe about the photographs and like all this amazing and ask tell me about this unit so that she can tell the story that's what she wants so and everybody wants that why does a bride and groom want an album it's not just because they want to remember it they want someone to come in and sit down and go wow, this is where you got married tell me about it and then they would be like oh yeah this is the you know and then they can start talking about it that's really? Why we have them that's really? Why you and I take photographs outside of getting paid for him the reason I take photographs is because I want to show them to people and then I want people to ask me about them so I could talk about them and that's everybody on the planet if you think and I used to talk college for a long time and I would have students come in and they would say, oh yeah but I just take pictures for me no that's a lie that's an absolute lie you don't take pictures for you you take pictures so that you can then share your vision in your experience today also it's a way of connecting outside because most of us are kind of introverted I'm very introverted newsflash I'm a very introverted person people don't think I am because I get on and talk about stuff and I talked a lot, but I'm not I'm very introverted and I and I prefer to be have solitude and beat myself a kind of a hermit I'd like to be on my own I like to go out be like my favorite thing is to go out some place like this and not have anybody around me. In fact, for the longest time when I was studying photography, I wouldn't allow a soul to be in my photographs I would take pictures and I wait hours with a tripod and a four by five camera on highway hours for people to leave so that I could take a picture because I did not want humans in my pictures, which is interesting because now I make all of my living off of taking pictures of people, but so I'm kind of introverted, but I still the sole reason for me taking photographs is to share what I'm seeing and here out to there because it's my vehicle it's my medium to get my vision and my internal feeling out just like music music is the way for the musician to get all of the stuff inside out you know, whether it's happy feelings or whether it's sad feelings or whatever it is that's their way to get it out and so they do that it's therapy and so I just get paid for therapy I you know, constantly having therapy as I'm you know, working and it's great but it is there to tell stories we all want to tell the stories we're telling you we're story tellers at heart and that's what we want to do you want to communicate to the outside world so when we communicate then we want to communicate well and what happens is people go and they make personal books and they put in everything my mom does this my mom makes these books of her and her and my dad going and playing golf courses and they take they put a picture of every single hole so all eighteen holes are in and every single one is here's the tee box and then they take another picture from the middle of this fairway here's the fairway and this is the shot and then one of the green and this is and then if it's beautiful they might turn the page and then they'll do a whole spread of like the most beautiful scenery right? And they don't give any details it's the same shot three shots and then it which is great if you want to show me hey, if you're playing this golf course, play to the right so that you can avoid the sand trap on the left it's great it's like a map but how often do you look at a map and just be like oh, that is so fun like this map you know, there's very few people who get excited about maps and by the way maps are pretty cool to discover things but they have a purpose. So anyway, when you're making a book of your golf vacation it might be a good idea to like really you know, I take pictures of the squirrel that stole your sandwich you know, take pictures of the birds take pictures of the flag you know and um artistic picture of the flag and then you can put them together on a spread and you've got like, a photograph of you know, one of the holes and like a couple details from that hole and then turn the page and maybe skipped the third hole and go to the fourth hole because the third hole looks like every hole you've ever played you know, only do the magnificent holes and then maybe you could have one book that has, like, you know, fifteen pages of golf courses and then, you know, maybe take some pictures of the places you ate and the people you met and the buildings you saw and things like that but no it's just the golf course so I'm just saying that that becomes very boring for everybody to look at because there's nothing interesting in it because they haven't considered the people or the audience that they're playing to they've only considered themselves that's what they want to look at but they haven't considered what you want to look at and so when I am showing off an album I can't just make it for the client because the client if I handed them a I can hand them a book that's this thick that has four hundred pictures in it and just every picture I took on the wedding and they would love it because every picture they love because it's of them and it reminds them of something and but anybody they showed it to would curse me for having created this horribly big book and there's half the pictures that are boring to them they're interesting to the person that's look at because historically speaking, the image that I'm looking at has grandpa in it so it's historically important and they like it but there's nothing visually interesting for you to like it and you are the person that I have to cater to because you're the one that sits in their house and has to watch the the slide show her has to look at the book so now I need to make it interesting so that the mass public is so when I'm making a book and this I think should be the mantra for everybody who's, right making a book or making an album or a slideshow or anything like that for a client or for themselves, I don't care if your personal is this is you're watching this course for personal edification or if you're watching it to improve your business, the concept of storytelling is that you need to play to all audiences or at least a good number of audiences. The first audience is you or your client on the second audience that you have to consider it everybody else in the world, I've got to play to those people who come in on the couch and sit and look at your book and so that's why I'm gonna pare it down that's, why I'm going to choose one picture instead of three that's why I'm going to select and that's why I'm going to do details and that's what I'm going to do a big picture and then some little pictures to kind of break it up and make it exciting, and then I'm going to go back to a big picture and then I'm gonna go back into those small pictures and I'm going to do his stuff that's, you know, very beautiful and I'm going to do some portrait's and then I'm going to do like a little kid thing that's cute, and they're going to go back to the the emotional, impactful things, and then I'm going to keep moving it. So that as you look through it you don't get bored because you keep saying the same thing over and over again no matter how beautiful it is it's going to get boring I need to have variants just like you need to have variance and music no have you ever listen to philip glass? Yeah. No, no, no. You okay? So you okay? Philip glass makes amazing music for like a minute and then it's the same thing and it just keeps going and going and going and going on there's this he runs an offer called oxana ten and it's it's it's apparently, as far as I remember and don't if I'm getting this wrong. Just remember, I studied this and like nineteen ninety four s o nineteen nineteen, eighty for so long time ago. But this this it was an opera about the entire history of the egyptian culture so it's like something like six thousand bc to like, you know, one thousand eighty or something like that covers the whole thing and then no, it comes to two thousand or to nineteen ninety five or whenever he wrote it and so it really covers the whole thing and then finally you end up with this tour guide at the end or something and so that long a musical and it really feels like it's that long because it's all the same, it just keeps going and going and going and going, but some of the stuff is amazing this little bit and then it goes over and over and over does the same thing over and you're like, ok, I got it, it was really amazing for that one little bit of time, and then it got really boring after that because you kept doing it, you know, it's like there's there's songs now today that are really, you know, ubiquitous, they're everywhere like that happy song, you know, that then and then and that one, I am happy, and so that song is played everywhere and so it's a really happy fund song, I love it, but if it plays too much, I'm going to be done with it, and so you can't repeat yourself like that. You've really got to, you know, tell your story in a way that you've got an image and then do something different and then something different and then something different if you keep playing the same thing over and over again. It's going to get boring. All right, so there's, some ideas or some concepts that we need to understand before we start trying to tell our stories.

Class Description

Photographs are one of the ways we tell stories – assembled together they paint a picture of a time and a place. In Storytelling and Album Design, Jared Platt will teach you how to tell better stories using innovative, easy-to-apply design and compilation techniques.

In this class, you’ll learn how to create compelling photo books using Smart Albums and InDesign in conjunction with Lightroom. 

 You’ll learn how to:

  • Apply the art of storytelling to an album
  • Design a workflow to make the process fast
  • Ensure the album looks great printed
Jared will cover the best methods for designing a wedding album, senior album, and documentary book. The techniques he’ll share will help reduce the time you spend on albums from hours to just minutes.

Don’t let albums overwhelm you or your time – learn fast, effective techniques in Storytelling and Album Design with Jared Platt.

Ratings and Reviews

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Tanya Lillie

I'm pretty proficient with LR Develop module, but I have not delved into the other modules. This class was introducing those modules and teaching how they can add value to your photography. Jared is a proficient and effective instructor.