Lens based image making

Techniques photographers use to tell a story.

A sequence

This is a series of images which all work together, in order. For example:


These images are by numerous people based around numerous themes, but even without planning a story, a story can be made easily by the way you sequence them.

Ofcourse this isn’t needed for narrative photography, it works just as well if you can tell a story using a single image.



The way to take an image effects the narrative greatly. For example, you can place the viewer in a first person view, to make them feel part of the story.


Or you can photograph it from a third person perspective to have the viewer feel like they are only witnessing the narrative,rather than taking part in it.



The models used in an image is an important factor of creating a narrative.Things such as age,appearance,gender,height all contribute toward the story. For example, think of an image of two people arguing.

If they’re both male/female and the same age, we would assume they are friends.

If one is male and one is female of roughly the same age, we assume a couple.

If they are both males , or females, or a mix but one is older and one is younger, we assume a parent / child relationship.
Even with this, the appearance can still add toward the story.The child figure could be dressed as something such as a punk rocker, and we assume that the child/teenager is going through a rebellious phase, and this is why they are arguing.

Things this simple can change the narrative entirely.


Colours play a large role on what the mood of the narrative is. If the colours used are dark and cold, this gives us a sense of mystery;sadness;fear. Whereas if they were bright and warm we may feel things such as happiness;joy;peace.


The location the image has been taken in contributes towards the narrative,as it shows us where this action is taking place, which helps us image the different scenarios that could have taken place.From the privacy of their own home to out in the public,anything could happen.But if a personal narrative is taking place in a public area, the image begins to get confusing and sets more of a confusing, misunderstood narrative rather than a strong, possibly relatable narrative.

The idea i had decided upon for my documentary images was to capture the various types of customers that visit cafes.Below i think i have gathered a good range of customers,each inside or near a cafe so that it is visible that they are a customer, rather than a random image of a person where i claim they regularly visit cafes.Here is the proof.DSC_1025-2

Starting with this older man,he appears either homeless or jobless.Due to his clothing, i suggest he is lacking money but still able to take care of himself. He may not be inside a cafe nor on his way to it, but if you examine this image you can see that this man is playing a piano in Derby city centre for money( his money tub is located on the top of his speaker ).The relation to the cafe is the fact he is earning money near a cafe, which you can see by looking at the signs in the background containing a cafe menu and directional arrow pointing down the alley.This suggests that once he has finished and earned enough money, he would then be going to the nearby cafe for a hot coffee and maybe something to eat.

This shows that even if you lack money, a cafe can be a good place to go for food, drink and warmth.Some cafes can be cheap which helps this man a lot as he could get more for his money, rather than earning £5 and then spending it all on 1 cup of coffee.

With this image i would have loved to have captured somebody tossing money into the pot, but from where i was stood that person would have blocked the cafe sign, therefore the image would no longer be of cafe culture.If i had tried to combat this issue by moving my position, i would have, but that means the sign would not be in the background.


Here are two males, each having something to eat and drink.They are both clean, well maintained gentlemen wearing suits and ties.This suggests they have a good, professional, well paid job but we can still find these gentlemen at a cafe.This could suggest that the cafe is an expensive, fancy cafe with only the best food and drink.But that isn’t always the truth,they may be able to afford it but we can see these two men aren’t in a high-end cafe, showing they are good with their money.These men are responsible.

With this image i do know that half of the image is of a messy table, but i find that it adds to the image. What sort of fancy restaurant would have messy, empty tables?

This image is of two visually active men grabbing something to eat and drink.We see they are active due to the fact they are still wearing big coats and bags, but also because the male on the left has ordered something to eat and instead of sitting down somewhere, he is eating it where he stands.Suggesting that as soon as they are done they, they will be on the move again and it was literally just a quick stop for something to eat.

I think i would have gotten a better shot if i had taken the image from behind the staff so that the light radiating from the cafe is used to see their faces because taking the image form behind darkens them and makes them almost seem like a silhouette .


This one is showing teenagers in a cafe.Sat in a large group of close friends at a large table all having a laugh together.This shows us that it’s not just the elderly that visit cafes, it is also teenagers.Even mothers take children into cafes.

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 Here is a lovely elderly man enjoying something to eat with a lovely cup of coffee! On this image i managed to capture the serving area and menu in the background which i am rather pleased about.This man seems like a lovely guy, his clothing doesn’t suggest poor not does it suggest a well paid, professional job.This man seems very average to me.His choice of cafe depends entirely on his preference.

Personally, i love the composition of this image and the only way i think i could improve it by holding the camera higher up due to the fact i had to crop this image due to me having a blurry white table at the bottom of the shot,which ruined it and took focus off this man.

 This image is interesting due to the fact this image of customers is actually the staff! These two ladies are having a chat alongside something to eat and drink during their break, in their own cafe.this classes them as their own customers.This is an interesting twist to the series of images documenting customers of these types of businesses.

This image seems somewhat blurred so i reckon i should have took  a little more time focusing to get a sharper image.

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Although this image is of a customer deciding what to buy, this is rather a humorous image.The way i had composed this image was in a way where this man became part of the mean deal.His head is lined up nicely in the meal deal offer behind him, suggesting you get him along with a drink and a packet of crisps.But it has more meaning than that to me.At first you giggle, enjoying the humour.But if you examine the image more, you will see this man is missing his leg.He isn’t on a scooter due tithings such as back problems like most people, or even because he is lazy like somebody i know.But because he literally has not got the ability to walk.

I class this image as strong as i find that after you enjoy the humour from the meal deal incident, you then feels guilty because of this man missing his leg.You start thinking, and you feel sorry for this man.


This is my ‘Fine Art’ Image, due to it being more visually appealing rather than documenting.

I find this image visually appealing due to the separate levels of depth of field and focus, it has a lot of variety.This related to cafe culture due to the customer(in focus) which is walking into uncle toms cabin, as it says at the top of the screen.
I wish i had lined this shot up a  little better due to the tilted cafe sign, but this was a quick image where i was hoping for the best, and i was lucky to get what i did.This could have gone visually awful.
I don’t think there’s anything i can say about changing for next time with this image, as i doubt i’d be able to re-take this image.

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This is my advertising image where i am trying to show that you don’t need pound coins and notes to buy a coffee, you should be able to afford it using spare change hidden in the bottom of your purse or wallet, or simple loose change in your pocket.

This is one of the images i had taken on my phone(Samsung Galaxy S3), i have applied an image of copper coins onto a new layer and framed it in the cup whilst also changing the opacity so that it appears as liquid.I’ve then added text and a logo i had found on google images through adobe photoshop on a mac laptop.

I think i should have taken this image on a camera in colour for better quality.If i would have shot in colour, i could have had many more editing opportunities.

This assignment has been rather stressful for me due to trying to create 3 different types of images for 3 different people, its like 3 assignments in one.But it has gave me useful experience in the difference between advertising, documentary and fine art images, which i know could come in handy in the future.

To improve i should have given myself more time to work on certain images to improve my work visually.


These images i have selected of Javier Ferrando’s images relate to cafe culture as they’re of things such as coffee products and machines.So these images fit well with my artist research as these images are actually about cafe culture.


This image as quite clearly of a worker making some coffee, you can tell that this image was not scened due to the slight tilt, the motion blur and the framing.But aside from that, this image shows us part of the process of making fresh coffee for customers.The motion blur actually plays a part in this image as it shows us that this machines method of working is by shaking side to side, which i would have not known if this was a still image.




Here we see various coffee products.An image like this would go great for my advertising ideas of various coffee choices.But not only does it include the coffee options, but it also includes a good old fashioned kettle, showing you don’t need a big fancy expensive coffee maker, just some hot water.


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This shows us the mess left behind by customers, documenting the way they treat the cafe and then leave without moving anything.The coffee cups left behind is an ordinary thing i see in cafes but i think the coffee beans were there because of Javier as i saw an image of coffee beans placed on this table, obviously he had done the same and left them as they were! But it does show the repetitive theme of ‘Coffee’



Yet again another image which shows coffee choices but this docent have as many options as the last and this one is a lot closer cropped.This does help though as he has focused on the writing so we get to find out the brands and kinds of coffee used.



This image goes far deeper into the process of a cafe and goes all the way from serving the coffee to gathering the coffee.Here we are a witness to the environment and appearance of coffee fields.We see it’s hot wether due to the bright whites beaming onto the white clothes.Its a known fact that white clothing repels sun where as black clothes attract sun,so we can tell these people know what they are doing and have chosen the best clothing choices to stay cool alongside a hat to keep their head cool and the sun out of their eyes.

ere is a simple image of columbian coffee cups, which is visually appealing to the eye with the easy , gentle gradient and black and white colours.

The first set of image were taken using a mobile phone so that i could explore another type of lens based image making that wasn’t using a Nikon D7100 like all my other images.I found that i was more comfortable taking images as it was rather discreet and just appeared like i was texting on my phone.The downfall to this is the last of quality in my images, but as you will be able to see i experimented with a few different settings on my phone such as effects and white balance.

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These images were taken inside the Britannia cafe in Derby city centre, this is a cafe which is usually occupied by the older generation.Ideas to why this is could be due to it’s warm, quiet atmosphere, friendly customers and staff,reasonable prices, easy access, or even due to its discreet placing as this cafe is hidden down an alleyway.This means it doesn’t attract many tourists or people looking for a quick snack on their shopping day, the people who visit this cafe would be regular, good customers as they know of its location.

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I found that using a camera phone it takes a while to focus on your subject due to the fact i need to tap on the screen to set a focus point, this could change at any time if somebody walks past due to it auto-focusing so this may ruin some shots, as you can see by the following image of a male and his shopping bags.20141205_135732_resized 20141205_135745_resized_1 20141205_135745_resized

I found a problem that every time i took an image it appeared rather yellow due to the lighting and colours indoors.

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To combat this issue  i firstly began to play around with the effects, such as black and white and sepia.

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I found using black and white good as i tend to associate documentary photograph with black and white images, although i know it’s not about the colours that make it a documentary photograph.Reasons for this is facts such as black and white images are more believable as back in the day when shooting in black and white, manipulating images was not a heavily used skill.

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I also used sepia as it also, much like black and white, gave an olden kind of feel to the image, so it is more believable.As you can see below, i then began to alter the white balance on my images to try and reduce the intense yellow colours.

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On some images, you can tell, where as on others it is harder to spot.The only way you could tell is by a slight difference in the yellow tones as they appear more washed out. On the image above where it is visible it has been altered, this then make the image appear a somewhat blue/green colour, which i didn’t like all that much.

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I also found it difficult to get a closer shot as the zoom action on a camera phone only enlarger the pixels and crops the image.Making it of an even worse focus and quality.

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20141205_141423_resized_1Although shooting on a phone is physically and mentally easier and more subtle, this has a rather bad effect on the quality of images.If i’m taking a snapshot, my phone is great, but if i am looking for a good quality image i should stick to using digital cameras or film cameras as they also have a great quality and depth of field.
I didn’t find any images that were taken on my phone of any good use to use in my final pieces.

The following images were taken using a 50mm lens on a Nikon D7100 camera in Derby City Centre before i visited the Britannia cafe to us emu mobile phone.

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These images are of much better quality, even with the various exposure issues on some images.

Here are the top 10 image from this photoshoot that i had chosen as my favourite/best/strongest


As we can see, this male is  sat on a bench in the middle of town playing a piano.He is doing this to earn money placed in the pot near his speaker.This image has a good composition as we can see all this information, plus the cafe sign behind him with a menu and arrow directing the public to the cafe.This suggests that this man is trying to gather enough money to go and get something to eat and drink from the near by cafe.

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Using Microsoft PowerPoint and Google on the Mac PCs at college, i priced together a presentation stating what i find similar between my work and the work of other photographers in my Cafe Culture work.

All the images i had available were all documentary images, so of course i used documentary photographers.

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Starting with Bruce Gilden, He tends to capture people quite close doing their day to day lifestyle

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As you can tell here,i was close to a woman and a couple and captured them as they were rushing past me.I could have got a lot better shot if i had looked through the viewfinder, but then they would have had more time to react!I wanted it to be spontaneous and shocking.This image is somewhat blurred but that’s due to the rushing woman.

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I adore this image.I was waiting at some traffic lights and there was a woman stood next to me, so , without thinking, i took a quick shot and continued to walk.It wasn’t until i examined the image that i enjoyed it.This woman who obviously adores red has dressed up so beautifully and elegantly, in almost a pin up girl style yet she is stoof in the cold, damp weather in Derby with buses driving past and others who don;t really care about their appearance across the road.This woman stands out alot.
It would have been great to of found her in the center of a group of th epublic who are visually unkempt.This would have been a lovely contrast.

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But some of my images resembled that of Javier,in their simple yet ordinary style.

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For example, people word all the time.We know there are workers in cafes, so to us it isnt extraordinary for us to find an image of them working.But this is documentary,and i am documenting this ladys job and the things she has to do,such as Javier did.

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Not only did Javier get images on things like products but i did also, and this was admittedly not inspired by that of Javier.

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These images are of items associated with coffee houses, wether it be inside or outside.

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I know there are many other product photographers that i could have compared to, but Javier is the only one i have found that not only captured products(in a non- advertising way) but he also captures actions.

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Robert captured beautiful shots of customers in cafes and coffee houses, no matter how easy or simple.

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Even though he shot in black and white and i shot in colour for this image, they still relate in the fact that these are customers of a cafe.


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This image has a little twist though.This is an image of customers inside of a cafe,but these ladies are also the workers of the cafe they are currently inside.They are on their break,and of all the places in the local area they could have gone, they stayed loyal to the business.



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These are not workers, but teenagers who have visited the cafe for a coffee and maybe a bite to eat.They have gone in a decent sides group of friends and they are all visibly enjoying themselves and having a good laugh and bonding over something that they all can relate to as friends.

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Here we see not teenagers,not workers, but middle aged , unkempt customers outside of what is visibly a somewhat cheap cafe.You can tell it is cheap due to the stereotype of people outside who appear to be noticably low on funds.Otherwise they could be wearing branded clothes with salon hair,but no.They’ve got a budget to stick to and they are not about to blow it on an expensive coffee!

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This image specifically by Trent Parke relates to one of my images in a noticable way.

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This image was not planned, nor did it appear this way when i looked through the viewfinder, but it works, and i find it amazing with the variety of layers within the image.Much like Trents, this is an image looking over somebodies should, except in my image we are looking over somebodys shoulder and we see so much information such as that this image is in Derby, and behind that we see a woman, but it we look where she is going, we see she is a customer to a cafe.

Here we were experimenting with creating a new image from 2 photographs.We did this by first experimenting with finding two images that work well together in our own collection of images that we have gathered over the years.

We then placed one on top of another and faded the opacity to about 50%, maybe more.

opacity 2This is my first image i attempted,the image of Quad fills the sky and gives the image more information, it appears as if Quad is behind these houses.

Opacity 1This is the image that i used,This image gets the mind thinking what is real and what isn’t, where was these images taken?What angle i sit taken from?On this image there are a variety of factors that create a contrast such as composition,, etc. That is why this works so well.Also, almost all of the empty spaces are filled with buildings and people.This image was created using the following two images.



I then printed out these two images to take into the dark room and try recreate the image i had previously created on Adobe Photoshop.
The way i did the following was by placing the two image on top of each other, faced down on top of a piece of photographic paper



This was my first step test.
This was with the filter on at an aperture of 8 with 10 second steps.It seemed quite grey and dull. So i tried it for a little longer and did 15 second steps.



It started coming out a lot better so i chose about 90 seconds for the image and tested this on a small piece of paper.



This was a decent time as the lines from the building of the second image were still visible, so i was capturing both images in one.


After my first full size negative, i realised that by capturing th elides of the second image, i have completely removed all detail of the first image, so i had to take the exposer duration down by ably 20 seconds.



This came out with such a better result, but for some reason it seemed as if the black sky was melting into the image, so i tried again thinking i had accidentally nudged the paper.


This is the final result, you may not be able to see the lines in the sky like before, but the lines are visible where the building is.It’s very subtle, but it’s there! It has given a new style to the buildings.

I think that this technique of creating an image can give you some great results, but it’s complicated and very time consuming.If i had the time, i would experiment greatly, but with a deadline i decided the best thing for me to do is to stick to what i know.



I have been given 5 subjects to design, plan, and create an advertising image for.
Below is a list of the subjects, my ideas , and soon a sketch of an idea to recreate.

Good value for money:

With this subject i plan to fill a mug/ tea cup and saucer with old/used copper ( 2 and 1 pence pieces ). This could show that all you have to use is the spare change out of your purse that never gets used and gets thrown to the side.No pound coins necessary.

I shall take the image as a see form above image so you can see directly into the cup, which i will place on a nice wooden table to compliment the copper coins.

Another idea using the mug is to instead, get a hand model and a studio and slowly pour the coins out of the cup and onto either the saucer or the table and capture the coins falling.I thought against this idea because i felt it represented wasting money rather than saving it.

Which also gives me another idea.Saving money?I could use that to my advantage.Perhaps i could act as if the cup was some sort of piggy bank and ask the hand model to either pro the coins out of her palm into the cup or to hold it above as if it was an actual piggy bank.So this would of course represent saving money, just not in the way you’d think.

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Open 24hrs:

For this i was thinking on placing a steaming hot cup of coffee outdoors on a table in town and get an image of the cup from a low angle, so that the coffee is in the foreground and in the background we see the tips of the buildings and the sky.I would then go into photoshop and place a gradient on the sky along with an image of the sun and the moon on each end to show day and night.

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Various options:

For this i was thinking of placing various kinds of tea/coffee cups on a cafe table and arranging them so they are either organised smallest to largest vertically or horizontally and capturing an image of that.
If that doesn’t work out too great, i could capture an image of behind the counter of the carious tea boxes/ coffee preparation equipment.They also tend to have a wide selection of syrups for coffee, each creating its own flavour of coffee, there fore another coffee choice.

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Free refills:

For this i had planned to get an image of various coffee cups in the studio all singularly and to also get a see from above view of some coffee beans that had been arranged to create the infinity symbol.
I was going to keep the white studio background as a base and use Adobe photoshop to scatter the coffee/tea cups around the infinity symbol.
But i could also have the coffee bean symbol in the centre and scatter the cups around it to avoid the use of Photoshop and also get a birds eye view of the coffee cups.If i did this, i would either fill the cups with coffee beans and teabags or actual coffee.But that would be expensive, so to be more efficient i could always use a brown liquid or water which  can photoshop brown.

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Good Environment:

For this i had planned to visit a cafe which already had a good environment and collect images of the sitting area with warm lighting, and to capture the moment where all the customers seem happy and joyful.I am hoping that the cafe has an average number of customers as if it’s empty, you can’t portray the happy environment that well, but it also doesn’t look like a good place due to no business. But i also don’t want it super busy as it wouldn’t look attractive to the viewer as they would not like to visit a cramped, stuffy cafe full of strangers.If there was a decent amount of people with obvious spare seating that would be perfect.

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So what do you think of my ideas?