How to Tell Meaningful Photo Stories Through Diptychs

By Taissia Iv / October 23, 2017

Diptychs are two photographs that have been placed together to tell a single, intertwining story. While diptychs can be as unique as their creators desire, the most popular ones consist of vertical images. Combining vertical shots to create a larger one is an efficient way for artists to keep their blogs and online galleries a little more consistent. You might be familiar with Youtube videos that have been shot vertically – the results are disliked by many because of how difficult it is to view everything. Similarly, when an article contains both vertical and horizontal photos between its paragraphs, it can be quite confusing to read and look at. Of course, this isn't always the case. If combining two horizontal photos appeals to you, don't stop yourself from doing so. 🙂

A visually appealing gallery isn't the only reason artists are drawn to diptychs. In addition to making formatting easier, these two-photo collages have the potential to tell deeper stories, give people two perspectives, and combine elements that, on their own, wouldn't have made that much sense to other viewers. Diptychs aren't the reason you can't use vertical photographs independently; some photos can be wonderfully meaningful enough on their own. However, they can serve as creative opportunities you can experiment with to explain your story better. All in all, adding another photo to a shot is like writing a description for an image: it adds more depth.

Not every diptych or collage has to be meaningful. There are many apps and editing programs that encourage the creation of casual diptychs. While creative snapshot collages are brilliant memory-keepers, this article will focus on meaningful diptychs. By meaningful I mean insightful, touching, and unique works of art that motivate their viewers to sit and think about their story. If you enjoy reading, watching, or listening to stories, you're bound to love diptychs. If you consider yourself a storyteller, no matter how experienced you are at explaining things, combining various photographs to tell a whole story will sharpen your skills. Here are a few tips on how to do this efficiently.

Value Your Creative Vision

Even though millions of photographs are taken daily, there are just as many stories that have yet to be told in the world. It's more than likely that your home is filled with possessions that have never been combined in a diptych before. Maybe you notice certain unique patterns, both indoors and outdoors, that appeal to you. There might be an area or a detail in your neighborhood that has something worth capturing and adding to another image. Don't disregard the things you notice, no matter how insignificant they might seem. They might end up becoming precious additions to your portfolio.

Forget the Limits

It can be easy to stick to a specific method and fear new things. In my opinion, having routines or methods you're comfortable with is admirable. I believe that leaning on a certain style, while remaining open to experiments, is a great way to balance both comfort and discomfort. At times, this balance can be lost due to intense fear or immense comfort. When I started my 365 project a few years ago (a challenge that encourages artists to take photos every day for a year), I often created diptychs. I got so used to combining all kinds of photographs that I created my own limits. When the notion of experimenting with, say, horizontal diptychs came to mind, I brushed it off for fear of messing up. When I finally began to experiment more, I discovered a very inspiring universe of ideas which increased my motivation and taught me how to be more observant as an artist.

As cheesy as this might sound, be limitless. Diptychs don't have to be simple, vertical photos of nature. They can be anything you dare to imagine. Experiment with double exposures, combine elements that don't seem to go hand in hand, find interesting connections between humanity and nature, and look for dramatic contrasts. It's inevitable that certain photos won't work and that your initial vision will be far from satisfying at times. When this happens, keep going. I often associate diptychs with double exposures as they both demand a lot of patience, experimentation, and creativity. Finding the perfect combination is what makes the whole process worth it.

Be More Observant

As a portrait photographer, noticing certain expressions, feelings, and facial features is a part of my subconscious daily routine. When I first started taking photographs, I wasn't sure what exactly I liked (though I did feel very drawn to portraits from the start), so I paid attention to everything. It was an exceedingly pleasant time in my life because of the sheer amount of things I noticed and appreciated. My work reflected this diverse curiosity and rewarded me with liveliness, creativity, and information I wouldn't have learned with weaker observation skills.

Being observant doesn't mean you can't strengthen certain skills. Observation, in my opinion, is just a way to absorb thoughts, stories, and opinions effectively. It's akin to tasting all kinds of food. As you go through various meals, you'll discover new favourites and appreciate the ones that may not have stood out to you initially. To do this, allow yourself to explore all kinds of art: films, books, podcasts, music, your surroundings, your experiences, etc. Some books – such as Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – contain multiple perspectives. You can use these to understand emotions, cultures, and details which you may have ignored before. The more open your mind is, the more intense your creativity will be. It might not show at first but it's bound to emerge in the long run.

Telling meaningful stories through any form of art is possible. Diptychs are particularly ideal for this as they provide us with multiple perspectives and unique points of view. While you don't have to include them in your portfolio consistently, you can experiment with them and learn something that will benefit you in the long run. Regardless of your results, you'll end up with more storytelling and shooting experience. Be proud of yourself for that.

Please let me know what you notice the most on a day-to-day basis and what kind of photographer you are. I'd love to get to know you. 🙂

Inspiring Photographers With Diptych/Triptych Portfolios:

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Taissia Iv

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