Query was empty



NEPAD Fisheries Documentary - Nigeria

The key to starting up your documentary film is to choose the right techniques that not only guides the story but the viewer too. By knowing your primary target audience or viewers as well as how and where the film will be viewed, the techniques used to tell the story will come naturally. Whether you’re creating an educational story for school children or an intensely striking slum documentary, it is important to know the differences between various types of documentary films. These differences determine how the story should be approached.

Another ideal way to know what techniques to use when creating your documentary is to look at the nature of your subject matter. If your subject is about handicapped war heroes you might want to take a different approach than if it is to be about elderly relationships in assisted living facilities. The idea is to create the right feel and setting for your story as not to come across as inappropriate to the viewer. It should rather set the tone for the matter to evolve as the story continues, keeping the audience engaged. Basically, you shouldn’t bore them neither overstimulate them: know your subject matter and in what direction you want the outcome go.



-Techniques and Ideas


Having someone as host or narrator is a great way to let the story unfold naturally especially since there is a bond established between the viewer and the host/narrator. The host could be the creator of the documentary, a celebrity, professional host or someone directly connected to the story. This could be the ideal technique to use for something like a travel documentary.

Narration / No Narration

Narrating a story is like the typical ‘once upon a time’, it’s a type of storytelling that uses a narrator who doesn’t necessarily have to be on camera. This person’s voice is featured throughout the entire film as an objective storyteller. If there is no narration, the story is usually pieced together using on screen text, graphics, raw footage, interviews or other context.

Stop-motion or Cartoons

It would be highly recommended that this form of storytelling NOT be the only guide through the entire story you are telling, but if this benefits and compliments your concept or niche/style, by all means go for it. This could also just be used as an extra feature to illustrate and guide the story - only as an element to the bigger picture.

Reenactment, dramatisation or recreation

This kind of storytelling technique is usually to be found in historical documentaries. Here significant historical events are referenced but there is no actual footage from that time or era - so it needs reenactment. Or it is often used where there are missing links between events that need to be recreated.

Following one character’s perspective

A style of storytelling where one person is chosen to be the guide of the story can be ideal, not necessarily only as a narrative voice but as a person who is featured in the film. This person is usually affected by the situation at hand or at least somewhat involved.

Playing with the chronological order

You could tell the story in ‘real time’ as it happened chronologically or you can choose to mix it up by starting with the end, for example, this keeps the viewer in suspense while you fill in the story’s details. This way your audience doesn’t get bored with the story or experience it as if from memory. Through the duration of the film you can even choose to keep popping back in time and then string it all together at the end. Be cautious though, if this is the route you choose, as this can get somewhat confusing not only for the viewer but also throughout the editing process. Remember, the story should still make sense.

Personal point of view

When dealing with very sensitive topics as a personal story or experience, a personalised form of storytelling can be efficient. You might not even have thought of this but you can actually narrate and tell the story from your own personal perspective. Why not? It is your documentary after all, why not tell it the way you see it, as your opinion? If you can pull this off it can turn out to be quite a compelling tale.

Oliver Karstel is a professional photographer, videographer, designer and creative consultant. I specialise in custom content creation, brand development and marketing | info@oliverkarstel.co.za www.oliverkarstel.co.za | FB.com/oliver.karstel.media | IG.com/oliverkarstel


Copyright © 2017 Oliver Karstel Photography. All rights reserved



Oliver Karstel (Pty) Ltd is a professional content production agency based in Johannesburg, South Africa, with broad-spectrum specialization in all elements of content production. We help our clients achieve effective communication through our content production. This is principle for any business that intends to generate leads, succeed the business, and maintain a steady income of work.

The founder, Oliver Karstel, is an award-winning photographer and videographer, having worked with multiple multi-national corporations and organisations including the United Nations (U.N.), NEPAD (African Union), Kal Tire (CA) Thermo King (US), GEA (DE), PERI (DE and UAE) and Bühler Group (CH). Oliver has received accolades from international photography awards including the Moscow International Foto Awards (MIFA), and his work has appeared in publications including INSPADES Magazine and Construction World Magazine. He has worked across the breadth of Southern Africa, West Africa, extending to Northern Europe and the Middle East. 


Architecture Photography

Architectural photography is a specialised art form focused on the built environment. Architectural photography succinctly captures the majesty of the subject.
view more

Construction Photography

Construction photography is similar to architectural photography, in its focus on the built environment; however, the emphasis is placed on beautifying a chaotic construction site.
view more

Industrial Photography

Industrial photography as an art form focuses on showcasing the magnitude, dynamism, technological innovation and scope of an industrial project or location.
view more

Interior Photography

Interior photography is a form of architectural photography. Though similar to real estate photography, the difference lies in the primary focus. Interior photography aims to showcase the beauty and detail of a constructed space.
view more

Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is an established and versatile photographic medium. Portrait photography encompasses fine art portrait photography, corporate portrait photography and more.
view more


"Detail" is an ongoing artistic project consisting of works spanning a variety of photographic genres. This project allows me artistic freedom and expression.
view more

Product Photography

Product photography is a style of commercial photography and is important to any business or brand as it is a visual form of speaking to the audience or consumer. Product photography can be a huge asset to the way you and your business develop and grow.
view more

Documentary Photography

Documenting real-life events to create a factual report on a specific subject, Documentary photography can be an emotional roller-coaster as the photographer captures all the emotion and storyline in camera.
view more


Marketing Videos

Marketing videos are created with the sole purpose of simply and effectively informing your customers about your product.
view more

Showcase Videos

A company showcase video, quite simply put, showcases the best aspects of one's business. I have produced company showcase videos for Thermo King and PERI
view more

Documentary Videos

Documentaries can be used as a tool to showcase or highlight current events, issues or stories. In the right hands, documentaries are potentially powerful and interesting educational tools.
view more

Event Videos

Events videos capture events, celebrations, momentous occasions. Events videography is more complex as it requires the use of multiple cameras and excellent lighting abilities.
view more

Health & Safety Videos

Health and safety videos are used as an educational tool to inform staff and visitors to a company of potential hazards that may be encountered while at work or while visiting certain locations.
view more

Induction Videos

Induction videos have multiple uses: First and foremost, an induction video introduces and welcomes new employees to a company. Additionally, an induction video may be produced to introduce your company to a new client.
view more


Aerial/Drone Photography

Aerial photography offers a unique omniscient perspective that is often unattainable with a standard camera. Hiring an experience drone operator can ensure that your project, site or product is photographed from an all-encompassing and interesting angle.


Aerial/Drone Videography

Similar to drone photography aerial or drone video creates a beautiful landscape to set the scene for your video, it works great for introductions and chapter breaks it can also be used to showcase the size of your premises, product or fleet in an epic and dramatic way.


360 & VR Video

360 degree and Virtual Reality Video technology is on a skywards trajectory and it's important for anyone working in this field to stay on top of the latest offering.

360° & VR Video

360° Panoramas & Virtual Tours

360 degree panoramas have opened up a whole new user content experience - with the use of a headset of simply by swivling your phone the photographs captured offer a unique all encompessing experience - these are fantastic to show case large areas like factories, stores or landmarks.

360° Panoramas

360 degree and Virtual Reality Video technology is on a skywards trajectary and it's important for anyone working in this field to stay on top of the latest offering.