If you want your photography to be story-driven, adapting a cinematic style will most likely help you nail the job. It allows several elements to come together to evoke the mood and feel of movie stills. The latest addition on our list of impressive cinematic photography projects is definitely a great example.
In his personal series titled “The Chosen One,” Zurich, Switzerland-based freelance photographer and director Olivier Walther uses the cinematic look to push the impact of his narrative.
Building suspense in stills
To effectively utilize the cinematic aesthetic, Walther chose to tell a gripping short story in a handful of photos. Each shot builds up the narrative leading toward fate of the titular “chosen one.” He also used different angles and both wide and close camera shots to build the suspense — as he would if he were shooting a film.
Also key in setting the mood of his narrative are the colors and tones he chose for the entire series. The muted blue tones of the night are interrupted only by an eerie red glow that seems to be of supernatural or otherworldly origin.
Just before the series ends, we get a last look at the protagonist of the story, his face bathed in red as he looks up at the source of the mysterious light. With this simple and cryptic gesture, we can most likely guess what “the chosen one” was hand-picked for.
A perfect study of the cinematic style
“There is always a story to tell and a fresh perspective to be discovered,” Walther said of the motivation behind his work. It also gives us a clue about his affinity with cinematic photography. Since he’s a director and photographer, it’s easy to see why he’s able to seamlessly blend the two disciplines together for this body of work.
I’m filing this series under one of my favorite examples of impressive cinematic photography. Despite the simplicity and brevity of the scenes, he was able to craft a gripping build-up for the story. I also love the subtle but effective “acting” by Walther’s model for this short series; you can totally feel the story unfolding in his simple expressions, especially his eyes.
There are many approaches to applying a cinematic style to photography, but this series reminds us that at its heart is a cohesive narrative. I hope Walther’s work inspired you to experiment with this style to level up your visual stories and play with different emotions and moods you can invoke through photography!
All photos by Olivier Walther. Used with Creative Commons permission.