Every picture tells a story


The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” is true only if your picture tells the story, clearly. We are visual species. When we see something, our brain creates a narrative to explain what you are seeing. Our images that we create and share enable the viewer to see our own story. Our chore is to make those pictures tell the story we want them to tell

The secret to a good photo is through the art of storytelling. There are a number of things to consider when creating your stories. A photo story can be something simple; it doesn’t mean you need something equivalent to a high profile event or other things you’ve seen in the news.

The difference between a ‘good’ photo and a ‘great’ photo is often in the story the image conveys.

Storytelling basics

  • Engage your audience.

  • Build the scene

  • Build tension and release tension

  • Focus on what's important.

  • Keep the flow logical

  • Make it feel conclusive.

We want to tell our story using pictures. Sometimes you can get all of these elements in one image, but more often, it takes a series of images to tell the story. For a series of pictures for your story keep the following types of scenario’s in mind:

  • The Establishing Shot

  • The Relationship Shot

  • The Close-Up Shot

  • The Detail Shot

Show action. Don’t line up the kids or family for that awkward group photo; instead have the group do something, like playing in the water or a game.

Show relationships. There is always an interaction between people or people and their pets. If you can capture that relationship it triggers emotions in the viewer. Emotions are a powerful story.

Shoot From Many Different Locations. You don’t want every single one of your images to be taken from the same location. You should be working up a sweat moving around your subject and capturing every possible angle you can think of to tell the story. You will be surprised how one angle may tell a bigger story than another angle.

Show a beginning, middle and end. Create a series of photos that show a beginning, middle and end. Don’t just start in the middle of your story. Capture the very beginning. If you are going on a road trip, capture everyone packing and loading the car. The middle is easy to capture, as that is normally where the bulk of the story is being told. And don’t forget the end. After your fun road trip, get everyone sleeping in the car or the pure exhaustion (kids crying is great!) of the fun day!

Narrow down your pictures. It is so easy to want to show each and every one of your pictures that you took to help tell your story. Something to keep in mind is everyone doesn’t have time to look at the 40 pictures you took. As great as they may be, you need to learn to critique your own images and only share a select few.

Captions are also an integral part of a photo story that should help the viewer understand each image. That said, it is important to remember that while captions may expand your understanding of an image, it’s the image itself that should tell the story – never the other way round.

You have a number of options for sharing your story from albums on social media to slide shows created on your computer using a wide variety of easy to use software.

Bottom line, stop taking snapshots and create a story to share.

Notes on the pictures:

  • The series of 4 images tell a story about a visit to a sunflower farm

  • The image of the chairs on the lake and the horse, rider and dogs, tells their story all by themselves.

If anybody has any questions they would to see discussed, please contact me through our Facebook page @LakeCountryEcho or my page at @MrEPhotographer.

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