Telling a story with photographs can be a very powerful way to connect with your audience. Whether you are telling the story of a person, place, or thing, there are certain techniques that you can use to make your photos more engaging. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for telling stories with your photography!
Choose a story to tell
The first step in telling a story with your photos is to choose a story to tell. This could be the story of a person, place, or thing. Once you have chosen a story, you can begin brainstorming ideas for photos that will help tell that story.
When choosing a story to tell with your photos, it is important to think about what you want to communicate to your audience. Are you trying to evoke an emotional response? Are you trying to educate your audience about a particular topic? Once you have a clear idea of what you want to communicate, you can start brainstorming ideas for photos that will help tell that story.
Create a narrative
Once you have chosen a story to tell, it is important to create a narrative for your photos. This means thinking about the order in which your photos should be viewed, and the story that they are telling. When creating a narrative, it is important to be sure that each photo supports the story that you are telling.
In order to create a narrative for your photos, it is helpful to come up with a storyboard. A storyboard is simply a series of sketches or drawings that show how the photos in your project will be arranged. This can help you to visualize the overall story that you are trying to tell and make sure that each photo supports the story.
Choose a focal point
When telling a story with your photos, it is important to choose a focal point. This is the element of your photo that you want your audience to focus on. When composing your photo, you should ask yourself “What am I trying to say?” and “What is the most important part of this photo?”
When choosing a focal point, it is important to consider the composition of your photo. For example, if you want your audience to focus on a person in your photo, you can place them in the center of the frame and use techniques to diffuse the background. Alternatively, you may want to break the standard composition rules to make a statement. Artists have used these techniques in paintings for centuries.
If you want your audience to focus on a particular object or part of a landscape, you can control the eye of the viewer by controlling tone and color in the image and highlighting the object of focus.
Many principles of composition can be used to manipulate and guide the focal point of the viewer. Lines of perspective within an image can be used to guide the eye of the viewer to a focal point.
Symbolism can be a powerful tool for telling a story with your photos. When used correctly, symbolism can help to evoke an emotional response from your audience and communicate complex ideas in a simple way.
When using symbolism in your photos, it is important to be sure that the symbols are meaningful to your audience. For example, a rose might symbolize love and passion to some people, while it might symbolize death and loss to others. Be sure to choose symbols that are meaningful to your story and your audience.
Find the right location and props for your shoot
When telling a story with your photos, it is important to find the right location and props for your shoot. The location should be appropriate for the story that you are telling, and the props should help to support the narrative of your photos.
If you’re shooting a portrait, think about shooting it outdoors and making the location meaningful to the person in the shot. If it’s an engagement shoot, the location may have particular romantic importance to the couple. All too often, photographers take couples to locations that they know will look good in an image without any consideration for the couple and what’s important to them.
In such cases the story of the photo is diluted, whereas if the location was good for photography AND was meaningful to the couple, the image becomes potent and a story sits behind it.
When selecting props for your shoot, it is important to choose objects that are meaningful to your story. For example, if you are shooting a photo of a person reading a book, you might use a book that is meaningful to them. If you are shooting a photo of a couple celebrating their anniversary, you might use props that represent their relationship.
Once you have a clear idea of what you want to communicate, you can start brainstorming ideas for photos that will help tell that story.
Shoot your photos in a way that tells the story visually
Once you have your storyboard in place, it’s time to start shooting your photos. When taking your photos, be sure to think about how they will be arranged and how they will help to tell the story.
Consider the composition of each photo, and try to use elements such as perspective and framing to help communicate the story visually. Also, be sure to use lighting and color to your advantage, and think about how each element can help to support the narrative of your photos.
Lighting sets the mood and tone of the image and can imbue strong feelings, use this wisely and to your advantage. Using locations and objects that have a limited color palette can really focus the viewer when the scene contains an item that is strikingly different in color or tone from its surroundings.
Pay attention to the details that make your story unique
When telling a story with your photos, it is important to pay attention to the details that make your story unique. These small details can help to set your photos apart from others and help to communicate the story more effectively.
For example, let’s say you’re documenting urban decay in a neglected part of a city for a local newspaper. As well as taking wide shots to portray derelict buildings, you can scan the area for close-up detail shots that epitomize the larger scene. For instance, you find a single, rusty roller skate in a skater park. If shot correctly this could convey a striking message of abandonment.
Try to think outside the box on your details.
Edit your photos to enhance the mood and create a cohesive story
Once you have taken your photos, it’s important to edit them to enhance the mood and create a cohesive story. Editing your photos allows you to control the overall feel of the image and to ensure that all the elements work together to tell your story.
It’s important to be selective when editing your photos and to only use the tools that are necessary to help communicate your message. For example, you might use a filter to create a certain mood or effect, or you might adjust the brightness or contrast to create a specific look.
Be sure to keep the overall feel of your photos in mind when editing, and try not to stray too far from the original vision. When done correctly, editing can greatly enhance the impact of your photos and help to tell your story more effectively.
Your first round of edits is best done as a collective initially. This can be done by opening all the images in the Adobe Photoshop RAW module where you can highlight all of the open images, adjust color balance and set a baseline tone to start from.
This provides an initial cohesion to the batch of images from which you can build and either enhance or strike out from, to tell your story to its fullest.
Examples of Storytellers in Photography
One of the most obvious genres of photography that requires an element of storytelling is wedding photography. Wedding photographers often have to capture the emotions of a day that is filled with milestones and memories.
Sometimes there’s a backstory to the couples’ journey from which elements can be brought into the wedding day and captured.
A wedding builds as the day progresses from preparations to ceremonies to reception, speeches, dancing, and more.
A good wedding photographer will capture it all and serve it back to the married couple as an album.
Wedding albums these days can be considered photo storybooks, filled with lots of side details and incidents that happened around the day.
Share your photo story with the world
As a photographer, you can share your photo story with the world. Telling a story through your photos is a powerful way to communicate your message and engage with your audience.
There are so many opportunities and social platforms available to share your photos with the world. Whether you’re posting on Instagram, Facebook, or a personal website, make sure to tell the story behind your photos and engage with your audience.
Telling a story through your photos is a great way to connect with people and share your unique perspective on the world.