History of Photography, special issue on Photo Narrative

History of Photography, volume 19, number 4timenarrativescanbw-028


Photo Narrative – Guest Editor Mireille Ribière

Danièle Méaux, “Duane Michals’ Real Dreams”. — Jan Baetens, John Berger & Jean Mohr’s Another Way of Telling“. — Mireille Ribière, “Danny Lyon’s Family Album”. — Dave McKean, “Storytelling in the gutter”.— Benoît Peeters & Marie-Françoise Plissart, “Roman-photo revisited”. — Portfolio:  Marie-Françoise Plissart, Aujourd‘hui, suite photographique.

Some definitions

Picture story: a type of photographic account found in the illustrated press from the 1930s onwards. It usually consists of a number of photographs depicting a current affairs event.

Photo essay, derived from picture story is an extended photographic exploration of a theme of general interest rather that the description of an event. It is closely associated with Life magazine and the work of W. Eugene Smith.

Ciné-roman (for which there seems to be no standard term in English): a by-product of cinema that appeared in the first half of the twentieth century. It consists of a series of stills from popular films published as a book or booklet without any attempt at replacing or deviating from the original.

Fotoromanzo: a romance photo story aimed at a working class/lower middle-class, female readership. Because of the sequential nature of the images and the use of speech balloons, it is a hybrid form related to the ciné-roman and the romance comic. Created in Italy in 1947, the genre rapidly spread through most Latin countries first in Europe, later in South America and finally, via Chicano influences, to the USA. The fotoromanzo appeared in France in 1949 as the roman-photo or photo-roman and, from 1950, achieved outstanding commercial success with the magazine Nous Deux. Although it has also been used to describe a number of more innovative works, the term remains closely associated with this rather narrow popular genre.

Fotonovela: a predominantly Hispanic, popular genre, which, unlike the fororomanzo and roman-photo, adapted to the demands of specific communities in Latin America and the USA, and was thriving until the late 1980s.

Photographic novel or photo novel: a continuous and extended photographic narrative published as a book.

Photo story: coined by Lewis Hine in 1914 in the context of social documentary  photography, the term as also been used to describe photo strips in British teenage magazines as well as the work of Duane Michals. It is now the name of a Microsoft application for non-professionals aimed at creating a visual story from digital photos.