I would argue that every photograph you take tells a story. How well the story is told, however, depends on the skill and creativity of the photographer.
Confused? Take this photo for example:
This photo was taken by my son, who stole my phone to snap some shots of himself. It was the first time that he had done this, so his skills are a little on the low side, but the point is: can you see the story? I can see it even through the smug look on his face.
How a photo’s story is perceived may also vary from person to person. Look at the picture of this church below.
The story that I see is that that would be a peaceful, quiet place to rest. Others, however, may see it as a lonely, desolate place.
Do all the photos that you take need to have a good, clear message? Not necessarily, I just want you to be aware that images talk (an image worth a thousand words, you know). And the more powerful the message behind the photo, the more compelling and interesting your photography becomes.
So let’s talk about how to take photos with a good clear message.
- Plan. Have an idea for what you are looking for before you start out. If you are going to go to an old desolate barn to take some shots, think about the lighting. Maybe it would be best to take the shots at dawn or dusk so that it gives a more eerie feel. Maybe you want to make the shots black-and-white so that the view is not distracted by color.
- Look for emotion. When shooting people (not with guns…) look for emotion. The easiest example is a crowd at a sporting event. If the game is exciting enough, they are often oblivious to what is going on around them and you can get the raw expression on their face.
- Don’t forget about composition! It is difficult to tell a good story if the viewer is distracted by poor composition. (Think distracting objects in the background, bad balance, too many objects in the frame, etc.) Just remember to help the viewer focus on the main thing!
So this week, go out and take 3 pictures that tell a story. ANY story. Just as long as your photos are intentional, your story is valid. Keep the tips above in mind ask you shoot!
REMEMBER, your options here are limitless! These could be candid photos, they could be flash photography, maybe it is a still life, perhaps you want to try portraiture. Go have some fun this week!
If you’d like a project outline for Telling a story with photography, click the button below!