Photojournalists always encounter the question: what is a good photo story and how to find a good photo story? In Kenneth Kobre’s book Photo Journalism: The Professional’s Approach, Kobre gives us a detailed explanation as well as several excellent examples to illustrate what kind of work can be called good photo stories.
(1) One of the examples that impresses me most is Face to Face with Breast Cancer. The amazing thing here is the subject is the photographer herself. Since she is willing to share with others how she encountered the difficulty and how she tried to overcome it, she really gets very touching pictures to tell us a vivid visual story (page 240-243).
(2) A photo story has a theme. A photo story is not a series of random photos taken in one certain place or at one certain time. In fact, they convey a point or an idea. That means each photo we choose for a story has the same theme. Being clear about the theme of one story can help us with wise photo selections (page 232).
(3) Photos which have visual consistency can form a picture story. The very common example is photos of the same person or the same location. Besides, photos of the same object or of the same mood or perspective can have connections with each other and form a photo story. My favorite example is Show of Hands which show hands of different people. The same subject makes all those photos form connections with each other (page 234, 238 and 244).
(4) A good narrative photo story should have a complication and a resolution. Unfortunately, many of us often shoot pictures which merely have a complication or a resolution. Such pictures can not make a complete and vivid narrative story (page 244, 245).
(5) Sometimes photojournalists need a long period of time to get a narrative photo story with a complete complication and resolution. They may follow their subjects for several years in order to shoot the problems their subjects encounter and how things or situations change. The photo journalists sometimes cannot predict the final resolution or the result. The Motel Dad is an example. The mother was the subject of the photos at first but it turns out finally the story should focus on the father. The photographer follow the story of that family all the time (page 256-260).
(6) When photojournalists only have a few days to work on a photo story and there is no way to follow the whole process of the development of the story, there are some ways to solve the problem. For example, they can shoot a story whose resolution is about to happen. They can also find photos in the album to show the history. In addition, they can shoot a small resolution, that is, a temporary resolution (page 260).