Storytelling with Photographs

The photojournalist tells a vivid story with each shot. With some knowledge and forethought, you too can weave a tale with your photography.

There must be a clear message, a single point; one idea. Whether this is a scene, an emotion, or a thought-provoking idea is entirely up to you.

Keeping it simple makes a strong statement. The less cluttered the image is, the easier it is to isolate your subject and tell the story.

Consider your subject while composing your image in order to enhance their presence so the viewer will know who or what the most important element in your story is.

Candid images can be more difficult to capture but come across as being more authentic than any kind of staged effort.

Be patient. Capture what actually happens. You may be thinking that the image will be of serenity and peace and then have someone come along who is listening to music and dancing hip-hop. Shoot the story that unfolds.

Your task is to chronicle the event; your viewers will fill in the rest.

Consider what caused you to be watching the scene through your viewfinder in the first place.

Your story may involve a mood, an action or some wonderful juxtaposition of objects in the landscape. There are a myriad of anecdotes to capture.

A pensive look, a frightened stare, a loving glance – all are themes for the legend you are revealing.

There are the guides for positioning the critical features of your image in order to enhance your composition and realize your vision.

Use the rule of thirds, lines or patterns that will lead your viewers to those areas of the frame you consider to be the most important.

Eliminate anything that distracts attention from your subject, your story. An element within view that does not assist in the telling does not belong in the shot.

The hidden meanings in your image give rise to subtle perceptions based on one’s own life experiences and culture. Your viewer may not interpret the scene the same way you do, but interpret it they will if it speaks to them.

The context, lighting and colour included in the photo create a positive or negative reaction.

Suggesting possibilities for stories with an image is a powerful technique that allows the viewers to create their own version of events, thus drawing them in and making it personal.

Conventional wisdom dictates that technical aspects of your photo such as megapixel count, lighting, contrast and focus are most critical in making it an image of value.

While these things are important and something you should always be practising to improve, it is the story, the feeling of a photograph that makes it noteworthy.

Images that impact our emotions will be remembered long after the others slide from our consciousness.

It is the moment of clarity and beauty that you capture in telling the story with your photography that makes it memorable.

The ability of a photo to tell a story is the basis of environmental portraiture which takes the subject of the portrait and tells part of their story through included elements and emotion.

You can also spin your yarn by taking a sequential series of photographs and displaying them in an appropriate order to create your journal.

Create a slideshow, place them in an album or print a book.

Make a photo-journalistic journey for your viewer by adding text to your photos. Write your feelings and thoughts about the image(s) or add a quote from the subject of the piece.

Add interest and create curiosity by describing what prompted you to take the photo and how you achieved it.

Share the narrative you fashioned in your photograph(s). This helps motivate you to continue producing more and better images.

Happy shooting and remember to leave the environment as you found it.

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