Sequence photography produces more than just a picture; it shows an event from beginning to end, often in the same single photo. The order is important because it tells a story and shows the passage of time, certainly much more so than a single photograph might. The photographs can be a powerful addition to your photography portfolio if you follow these basic rules.
Pay attention to traditional photography rules.
A sequence photograph without good lighting, shadowing, and framing is not a work of art… it’s more of a gimmick. Before you attempt to take a sequence photograph, first make sure that you otherwise can take good photographs. We have a variety of articles on the subject if you are looking for guidance.
Good technique is crucial because poor technique can lead to a boring or even unattractive series of shots. Even worse, it might distract your viewers from the story you are trying to convey.
Capture emotion, movement, and other types of change.
Sports photographers often use sequence photography to show a jump or other move from beginning to end. These can even be worked in Photoshop so they fit neatly on the same image, telling a complete story in one glance. However, sports are not the only way that this technique can be used. Showing a baby taking their first steps or a child opening a gift can produce a wide range of expressions in a short time and tell a story without a single word.
There are several ways to do this, but modern cameras make one way very easy: If you are photographing movement or emotion, use a camera with continuous shooting mode in sport settings and keep your finger down until the moment is passed. Otherwise, try taking as many consecutive photos as possible and combining them later, sorting through for key moments. Whichever technique you choose, be sure to use a tripod. This will help you to reduce blurring and shaking while capturing your desired image from the same vantage point every time.
Show a multi-step process.
Sometimes a given task actually takes a long series of steps. Think of a child’s growth, a plant growing, and even baking cookies. Photographing any of these can tell a story that will express more than a single picture ever could.
Unlike the above type of sequence photography, these will likely not look as good when combined into one single picture. However, they can be part of an attractive and expressive series that shows not just “before and after”, but in between as well.
A note: if you are taking the same photograph in several stages over a period of time, such as taking a baby’s picture every day for a month, then you should write down instructions regarding light and other settings to make sure you get a similar photograph in every take. Photoshop can only fix so much!
Turn the mundane into the spectacular.