Pedro Revillion

Pedro Revillion

Visual storytelling

by Pedro Revillion (Germany)

My name is Pedro Revillion, I was born in Brazil but currently live in Giessen, Germany. I have worked as a photojournalist in a newspaper for 3 years, then i have worked for my regional government in Brazil. Since mid- 2014, I am a freelance photographer and also have finished my Master Thesis in the Unisinos University in Brazil. My main objective in participating in this workshop was to improve my ability in visual storytelling, how to approach a history and subjects, how to interact with then and build trust so i can photograph then. As a photojournalist i have never dedicated a long time to a story, consequently my portfolio was made of a lot of loose images with no connections between each other.

Portfolio from the Visual storytelling workshop with Ed Kashi, April 2015.

Written review by ANDREAS J. HIRSCH,
Independent curator, writer and photographer

As different as the two sets of photographs that Pedro has put into this portfolio may seem at first glance in terms of topics and also aesthetics, they share the same qualities and problems, thus allowing to discuss them together. They share that their topics are interesting and strong and you can feel that the photographer is interested in them. “Elderly Tourist” also breaks away from the common focus on the fringes of societies and takes into view a phenomenon that maybe lacks attention and is therefore worth dealing with.

Let me identify my favorites in both series: From “Elderly Tourist” I would single out images number 2, 7, 10 and 16, from “Vila Dique” I would select numbers 4 and 11. Those six photographs share a photographic quality regarding clarity and composition, play with interesting angles of view and good work with background and foreground. The mood of the scene immediately captures attention and leaves enough enigma to hold the viewer and make him wish to deeper explore the image. In “Elderly Tourist” these are also the photographs, where one or two persons are in the frame, showing an interesting dynamic.

With the photographs showing larger groups this did not work as well, maybe there is more work or a different focus in demand for groups. Images 4 and 6 would also show pairs of people, but do not share the same photographic quality. In “Vila Dique” there is – due to the subject – somehow the danger of falling into cliché especially close at hand. Therefore quite good photographs – as numbers 7 and 9 would certainly be – did not make it to my shortlist.

Numbers 4 and 11 are more complex in what they offer and hold a strong mood and – they tell a story by themselves, not requiring other photographs along them. Of course such a demand cannot always be made to every image in a series that is meant to tell a story, but we should take care that the photographs in a series are more or less on the same level in terms of quality and of what they can contribute to the entire story.

A general word on editing: I think we should take care to avoid mixing stronger and weaker images in a series, since the weaker ones will weaken the impact of the entire series. Less is more also in this case, and if we have not yet enough good one to form a series then the series is simply not ready. Since these photographs belong to what is commonly understood as documentary photography, we should also be strict in the sense that we avoid any photoshop work that goes beyond the usual darkroom/lightroom procedures of adjusting. This said I would strongly recommend to refrain from images like number 11.

At the core of the quality of visual storytelling however I would see the clarity of the vision of the story I want to tell with my photographs. While this may and in most cases will develop only in the course of the actual shooting, we should strive to model this vision as clear as can be while we go along. The clearer our relation to the subject and our interest in it becomes, the clearer our vision will be. From this certain aesthetic and formal decisions will flow.

The simpler those decision and the clearer the focus on the topic the better. Too many different and accidental aspects may confuse and clutter the series of photographs that results. Moments pass by very quickly, but we need to try to capture it while not loosening our hold on photographic qualities in all other respects. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. If it did not work, then proceed to the next picture, but do not put the not-so-good-one into the story. A set of only a few photographs that each tell a story by themselves will do in most cases, when they then form into an overall story.

Be strict in your formal decisions and equally strict in your editing decisions. I recommend to concentrate on the qualities of photographs like the ones I have selected and continue to work from there. Then, I am sure, great photographic stories will result.

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