Creating a Storyline with Pictures


  • To learn how pictures can tell stories
  • To practice telling a story with pictures


  • Digital cameras or phone cameras (1 per participant)
  • Access to photo printers or computers to view pictures

Prepare Before

Everyone brings in 12 shots that they have taken that try to tell a story.  Give the theme ahead of time and give them 2-3 days to complete the assignment. Suggested stories: What I Enjoy Doing, What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, Where I Come From, A Dream for Myself.  Students should have several themes to choose from and bring in 12 pictures that they feel fit this theme. Note that if they take a picture of a person other than themselves, they need to get a photo release. These MUST be pictures they take this week, not pictures they already have. You should also do this yourself and be prepared to tell your story.

Warm Up

Write down the theme you were taking pictures for and free write for 5 minutes about this topic.  Write at least 5 sentences about this topic.


Using your own pictures, create 2 different stories for your theme in order to show that many different pictures can be used to tell a story.  As you show the pictures in your story, ask the SHOWeD questions we have done so far:

  • What is the first thing you see in this photo? (S)
  • What is happening? (H)
  • What does this photo make you feel or think about? (O)


Facilitate a discussion with the following reflection questions:

  • For this theme, is there a story you prefer? Why do you think that set of pictures tells the story better?
  • What parts of the story are unclear? Is there another picture or image you would have added to make the story or feeling more clear?


There are multiple ways to tell a story.  When you are using pictures, notice the feeling they evoke and the questions that they raise.  Use those feelings to guide you.


Put your (digital or printed) photos in an order that tells the story of your theme.  You are going to create two versions of this story using different pictures and/or pictures in a different order.

When everyone is done, each person will show their favorite of the two versions.  As each picture appears, take everyone through a brief SHOWed (i.e., What do you see?  What is happening? What does this photo make you feel or think about?). After each person finishes presenting their favorite of the two versions, ask the following questions:

  • How easy or hard was it to take pictures that fit your theme?
  • Were your pictures literal or were some of them metaphors or atmospheric?
  • If you could add another picture to your story, what picture would you want to take?


How well did the audience understand your story?  What could you do to make your story clearer?