Narrative Image Sequencing

I wanted to create an image sequence of a single scene. The focus is on playing with framing to reveal a different aspect of the story in each image. The story unfolds in space instead of time.

The whole series:

The story is as goes:

  1. a man is taking a dump in nature
  2. he seems happy and is prodding the ground with a stick
  3. Turns out he is not just taking a dump! He finds what looks like fossils in the ground
  4. uh oh, who’s behind him?
  5. A bear?!!?!
  6. The bear is watching from a distance
  7. There are flowers in bear’s hand 🌼
  8. oh.. those aren’t fossils…

Brainstorming for a suitable story was particularly hard! The story has to unfold a little more each time the scene is revealed further.

Making the figurines

I used Super Sculpey clay to make the figurines because they are easier to sculpt and I also happened to have them. I stuffed the insides with crushed paper and propped up the clay with the metal nose wires from used surgical masks.

One problem is that I didn’t bake the clay. As a result the clay was very much mouldable and vulnerable to getting mushed. Several details got smoothened out after a while of handling the figurines.

I pre-arranged them roughly in my room to get a sense of how I would position them outdoors.

The Shoot

I found a plot of grass near my hall. Surprisingly, it wasn’t so straightforward to find a suitable place to shoot. This is because I needed access from many angles which wouldn’t be possible if the ground is too elevated/ slanted. There needs to be sufficient foliage cover and flat enough ground that the figurines can balance on. There also shouldn’t be too many ants ://

I set up the figures and shot rather quickly for 15-20min.  I thought that the natural lighting was rather nice that day. And then there was a torrential downpour… Luckily, I had taken enough photos.


I imported all the photos into lightroom and adjusted their lightings and colours. I selected the photos based on their composition, their continuity with adjacent images, and their having sufficient difference with adjacent images.

For instance, I preferred this shot:

to this:

but I went with the latter because I feel that it has a stronger ‘revelatory’ effect in adjacent to the next image, in the sense that the image/pose is not as similar.

Some reflections

Overall this was a fun project! I’m quite content with how it turned out. I hope that the images can speak for itself without me explaining the story.

  • the full scene shot could’ve been better taken. Perhaps also the chaos of the grass was unnecessarily complicating the scene
  • the sculpting could’ve been improved to better convey the story — e.g. the pants on the man taking a dump doesn’t look like it’s halfway down his legs. It looks like he is wearing shorts instead
  • could have play with framing more — e.g. to have a more ominous mood when the bear is behind the man
  • check weather forecast before shoot
  • Sculpey clay looks quite nice with nature! I thought it might look out of place