As a photographer of individuals and cultures, I spend a lot of time thinking about storytelling along with my images – how i could convey emotions and narratives through a few simple frames.
Beginners often fail to think about the storytelling aspect of photography, and that is okay. When you’re only starting out, it’s important to focus on lighting , composition , and camera configurations . But once you’ve familiarized yourself with individuals key concepts, what’s the next logical step? How do you connect people for more than just a couple of seconds?
In this article, I share eight tips to get you started with storytelling within photography, accompanied by my own images to help illustrate the points. The photos may be taken in far-flung locations, but I actually promise you: the ideas I offer can be used anywhere on Earth.
1 . Include small information to tell a story in a single body
Imagine your task is to tell the story of a person. A mother or father, or even yourself.
How would you get it done?
A typical portrait wouldn’t tell the full story. A person’s full story is often in the details: a picture of their desk, travel books strewn across the bedroom floor, a close-up of their hands dirty from working in the garden, a wide-angle portrait of them surrounded by a few of their favorite things.
So the next time you’re photographing a person, attempt to include little details that add to their story.
I did not visit India to focus my lens on poverty only. However , when trying to tell the story of Mumbai, it will have been dishonest of me not to include it. Confronted by the scene above, I saw the gap between the full and poor. The small information here are my subject’s plastic bag, the skin condition on his arm, and his frail body. A big (and still important) detail is his juxtaposition with a backdrop of costly high-rise buildings.
2 . Aim for variety within a series of shots
This storytelling tip is related to the last point:
You must take a variety of different images of a single scenario. Whether you want to photograph a camel market in Of india, a farmers’ market in the Chicago suburb, or your own niece’s birthday party, just developing one type of photo won’t tell the whole story.
Instead, you need portraits, wide-angle shots, shots from up high, shots from down low, action shots, zoomed-in details, and more. All of these perspectives mixed tell the whole story.
Within the image series below, I actually tried to tell the story of a sunrise hot air balloon flight over the ancient, temple-strewn plain of Bagan, Myanmar. Capturing a variety of images was key to my success.
3. Take control of the entire frame
Now that you’re thinking about informing stories, you’re not just a photographer; you’re a storyteller, as well. And that role involves using control of the whole frame.
In other words:
Don’t imagine about your subject, their particular lighting, their positioning. Be aware of the whole scene in front of you, which includes surrounding details, backdrops, shadows, bright areas, etc .
Sometimes, I are situated flat on the ground with my camera . Why? I want to include environmental details in the frame that improve the shot through storytelling. I get strange looks, but I don’t care; it is the price of telling the real story.
4. Plan ahead with a shot list
Whether you are heading out into your hometown for some street photography or to the particular Eiffel Tower for some vacation photography, why not create a chance list? I’m talking about suggestions for specific shots, perspectives you want to try, and people you might include in the frame.
Research the kind of shots that other photographers took at your destination. Seek out brand new angles that’ll produce new storytelling even at popular locations.
5. Learn to narrow lower, trim, and exclude
Uploading a hundred photos to Facebook, all of an identical setting and taken from exactly the same few angles, is a guaranteed way to lose people’s attention. Those 100 photos can easily be narrowed right down to the 10 essential storytelling shots.
So learn to be picky! Start sharing only your best images.
Loktak Lake (pictured below) was so spectacular that I came around a single hilltop having hundreds of images. It was bliss. A lot of the results were great, but would I really want to drop them all online for close friends, family, and followers in order to sift through? No, I would not!
Instead, it is important to find a few faves that tell your subject’s story:
6. Emotions are an essential part of storytelling
At the marvelous Mother’s Marketplace in Manipur, India, We met these lovely girls (above) animatedly playing a board game. I broke the ice by asking basically could join in. They said “No, ” but it made all of them laugh and I got permission to shoot away. The very best photos came after they’d forgotten about me; their natural expressions returned and I was able to capture their feelings.
7. Do not forget about the basics
In your bid to learn storytelling, don’t forget about settings, structure, and lighting. It’s all too easy to drop out of touch with picture taking basics, especially when you’re very first learning to tell a story with pictures.
After all, when you’re considering storytelling, you might start to drift away from photographic fundamentals.
So instead of replacing composition, settings, and lighting with storytelling, make certain everything works together. A go with beautiful light, fantastic composition, perfect exposure, and a great story? That’s the way you capture people’s attention!
9. Use narrative structure
How does a traditional book or movie work? Books and movies are stories, so they contain beginnings, middles, and ends.
You can do the same with your photos!
If you’re just starting out taking a series of storytelling pictures, try creating a chronological story. It’s by no means the only or perhaps recommended narrative structure to follow, but it’s a fun and easy way to practice.
You might tell the story of the single day in a place you understand well. Start with sunrise, after that take photos throughout the day since the light changes. Conclude the particular series with sunset and night shots.
Here, I attempted to tell the story of day and night to the rivers running through the cities of Chittagong and Dhaka:
Telling a tale with pictures: final words
Now that you have finished this article, you’re prepared to begin telling stories with your photos!
Thus remember these tips, get out there with your camera, and have enjoyable.
Now to you:
Have you tried doing storytelling photography? What was it want? Did you enjoy it? Share your thoughts and storytelling images in the comments below!