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Building the Story

Lesson 30 from: The Ultimate Photo Storytelling Workshop

Finn Beales

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Lesson Info

30. Building the Story

Finn walks you through the story he has created using the images from his shoot and explains his thinking behind the images he has chosen.

Lesson Info

Building the Story

Okay, so we've rated our catalog. We've applied color labels to the catalog so we can easily retrieve images based on the type of shot. We've also graded images. Now it comes to the edit. This is where everything comes together, where we use a combination of different shot types working as a whole to tell our story. From the outset we knew where we were gonna go with the story. We had a plot, we had a location, we had a character. And from a combination of those two things we could create our event. Our character, our surfer, whose ultimate desire is to reach the perfect surf spot to find the perfect beach. (clears throat) The location is obviously Portugal. And the obstacle to him reaching it is what? Let's say his work. He's gotta work to live, and also accessibility. and that's where we can bring our client in, which is our Land Rover. So from that, we can create our structure. Our beginning, middle, end. Beginning point is our surfer's place of work. Our middle is the transition fr...

om his work to our end point, which is the beach, the sunset scenes. So I think the best way to illustrate this is to show you and to walk you through the essay as it stands on my website. Here it is. I'll walk you through each and every image and the reasons why I've chosen it. Opening scene, Dan in his board shaping room. So this introduces our character and also the lifestyle that he's associated with, which is... I was gonna say, obviously surfing, but maybe not obvious straight away. But there are clues to his lifestyle here. I'm not giving everything away straight away. It's just not a straight shot of him walking down a beach. I need to build up to that. And so we start in his board shaping room, artificially lit, his space of work. Move deeper into his character or his process. Hand shaping. He's a master at this, by the way. He makes some of the best surfboards, best long boards for some of the world's best surfers. Real privileged to shoot him doing what he does. I love this shot. And this is a hand-built tool that he made. And I love this sort of pile of off cuts in the corner. So I introduce this pile of off cuts here. And this is where it comes from, him breaking off the sawn off bits over his knee. I like the fact that he's barefoot here as well, which is an interesting observation to me. I wanted to illustrate it in the set. Okay, now we're moving away from the hand processes into the more industrial processes or power tools. It's him sanding. I love this image. I could have begun with this image, you know but I feel it's very powerful but doesn't really tell me much. I dunno what it is. I dunno, what's going on. Whereas this one, it's shot from the other angle. There's just more going on. Just orientates the audience from the outset. Gives 'em a clue as to what's going on. Doesn't reveal everything, but since we're already in this room, we understand what's going on here. More detail, more intimacy. Moving into the resin room. We were really pushed for time at this point, but I insisted we shot it because I think this is a really nice connecting sequence between the interior, the dark interiors artificially lit interiors and the naturally lit exteriors. This room's naturally lit. So we're using light and color to move into the exterior sequences. But this process of applying resin to the board is related to this process. So it's just a nice sequence that connects inside to outside. Here, we're introducing our client, our Land Rover. Quite clear, I think. I asked to shoot this sequence with Dan moving his board from his shop to the Land Rover and Land Rover then takes him to the beach. Couple of interior images puts the audience inside the car. Adds a sense of urgency, I think, this sequence. He's driving, he's looking, reaches a spot. Again, I asked to shoot this sequence with Dan. I directed this. I was like, "Right, can you look at your watch and then turn back to the car?" Idea being that he likes this bar but it's not perfect, checks his watch. What time? Sunset. He jumps in the car. Again, creating a sense of urgency using this tracking shot. You can see this motion blur, so he's moving quickly. I wanna emphasize this sense of urgency. And I've done that by dropping this into black and white which might seem a funny thing to do with this sequence of color images but it really pops that image that you notice it. The audience subliminally notices it and reinforces this sense of urgency or time or travel or moving. Drone sequences introduces the landscape as a whole and connects our Land Rover to the ocean. End sequence here leading with the setting sun and the ocean. This is where he's gonna end up. He's gonna be surfing this. He's not there yet. He's got a few more processes to do and for me to shoot, but these scenes are really beautifully lit by the setting sun. I could have started here, but I wanted to show the light source for these images before I dug into them as it were. I like this scene. This is actually a 50 & Stitched image, so you can see it's a really wide image but I've got this amazing depth of field which would've been impossible to get with a wide angle lens. Shoot it with a 50, a really shallow depth of field, stitch it all together and you get that nice popping character out of the background. But I also like his pose here. He's looking out towards the sun. He feels urgent again, gotta get on with it. That's his obstacle to his desire, the sun setting. The sequence is shot from inside the Land Rover. He's still waxing his board, but by pairing it with this exterior shot, reinforcing where this has been shot from and then connecting this sequence to him reaching the ocean. Remember to shoot these connecting sequences. Join the dots between scenes. You might just... It's not an amazing shot on his own but it works really nicely connecting this scene to here. Could have just gone straight from here to here, but this is telling a story, remember. We're not thinking just individual shots. Okay. So he is pulling his wetsuit, on walking down the beach, paddling out. Two separate shots but when set together they work nicely, again, telling the story. But make sure this horizontal horizon line is level so it work nicely together. I think the actual captures are uneven. And so I've cropped in to ensure that they're level. It's a little trick within Lightroom, I can show you in a minute, show you how to ease that process. Waiting for his perfect wave. Another set of two images that work quite nicely together. These could look like one image, in a sense, and I've just split it down the middle but this little boat on the horizon shows you it's actually two. Dan's actually hidden behind this big wave here in this sequence. I really like the way they work together. This wave almost continues across, even though it's the same wave. Feels like one whole. Just makes you look at it twice. Again waiting and jumps up on his board, and he's surfing to finish. Just the little note about this end scene which I've left in to give you an example of where the role of editor comes in. I really like it. It's a great shot. Loads of atmosphere and it rounds off a set really nicely but I'm not sure it works in this instance. I can't connect this colorway to this night scene without some intermediary imagery. It's too much of a jump between the two in my mind and so I'm not sure it's gonna make the cut. And this is where your editor brain needs to come in. Does it work with the entire set? I'm not sure in this instance. So I'll probably cut it, maybe use it on Instagram. It'll work really nicely on Instagram, I think people will really engage with it, and use it to promote the series. I can tell a story about this scene in a caption, "End of an amazing day. Go and have a look at my website to view the full set." But it's a shame I probably should have shot. So in part two of this editing episode I will create a blank template and just show you how I upload shots, how I export them from Lightroom, the settings I use when I export and then walk you through maybe like two or three examples of the building process. (soft music) Coming up next. (soft music)

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Ratings and Reviews

Brent Morris

Fantastic My thoughts on the storytelling workshop. The short is; it’s fantastic. The long is I loved all the details covered, from shot types and the ideas behind them to the call sheets and shot lists, and the whole process. I felt like I had a better understanding of how to schedule a professional shoot and I really felt like I had a much better grasp on many ideas and concepts, and I believe I’ve been able to improve my photography with them, so thank you and Finn. It really is fantastic.

Oswaldo Martinez

A path to better stories Very happy I got this workshop. Finn and Alex do a great job at teaching highly useful methods and specific advice to help you improve your own work, and more importantly, tell better stories that are meaningful to you.

Tommaso Selleri

Simply the best This is simply the best workshop out there on photography and storytelling. Finn is awe inspiring and so real and authentic. A pleasure to watch, a joy to learn from such master. I really hope a volume 2 is coming soon! Thank you for this one!

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