Jan 26, 2023
"Selecting photos is a different skill than making them,” explains renowned picture editor Mike Davis in this week’s podcast. This essential understanding forms the core of Davis’s new book Creating Visual Narratives Through Photography: A Fresh Approach to Making a Living as a Photographer.
Davis approaches this topic with a mix of clarity and candor, to offer deeply engaged yet highly accessible insights about making photos—and making sense of those photos—while also discussing the elusive art of selecting and sequencing pictures and other ways to create visual narratives.
Some of the key points covered in our chat include the visual vocabulary Davis assigns to photographs, his ideas about elevating pictures beyond simply informational content, how making multiple passes through a photo edit can help a photographer remove themselves from the experience of making the work, and his three different approaches to image sequencing.
Listeners will also gain a fresh understanding of ways in which both the art of creating visual narratives and the photo industry itself have evolved over time, to raise the bar on creative expression. In presenting this book, Davis’s goal echoes the response he has received from hundreds of photographers he’s helped to tell stories with their pictures, “I never would have thought of things that way, had we not had this engagement.”
Guests: Mike Davis
Photos © Mike Davis
3:26: Photography as a visual vocabulary, and distinctions between, nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
6:25: What are informational photographs and how to make photos that rise above this basic level.
9:08: Davis’s definition of composition: the full realization of light, and color, and distance in conveying a 3-dimensional space.
18:33: How the photo industry and relationships between photographers and photo editors have changed over time.
30:42: Davis discusses his photos published in the book and shares thoughts about photographing with intention.
39:34: Episode break
44:18: Three approaches to image sequencing and how they work within the full spectrum ofrafting a narrative
46:17: Mike Davis’s most visually successful book project and a general timeframe for image sequencing.
48:06: Davis’s approach to working with photographers on sequencing a book.
51:46: Davis describes his picture editing process using multiple passes through a set of photographs.
56:40: The primary audience and Davis’s ultimate goal in writing Creating Visual Narratives Through Photography: A Fresh Approach to Making a Living as a Photographer.
Mike Davis is a visual consultant, editor, author, photographer, and professor emeritus.
He has worked independently with hundreds of photographers as well as in staff positions for organizations as diverse as National Geographic, The White House, and several of America’s visually powerful newspapers.
Mike was twice named newspaper picture editor of the year, and he received The Sprague Award from The National Press Photographers Association, its highest honor.
He has edited more than 40 books as an independent consultant, judged a wide range of photography competitions and grant programs, lectured widely, and served as a member of various workshop and review faculty.
Most recently, Mike spent eight years as an endowed faculty member at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, where he taught visual storytelling courses and directed The Alexia Grants.
Mike Davis website: https://www.michaelddavis.com/
Mike Davis Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mikedavis_mnpls/
Creating Visual Narratives Book: https://www.routledge.com/Creating-Visual-Narratives-Through-Photography-A-Fresh-Approach-to-Making/Davis/p/book/9781032262857