Some of the fondest memories from my childhood are recollecting the
hundreds thousands of stories that my mom used to tell me growing up. I HAD to have a story for everything – for drinking my milk, for eating breakfast, for patiently waiting for the school bus, for dinner time – everything! They were varied in nature – from fairies, to children, to animals. But almost all the stories had a moral at the end. As I eagerly listened to my mom weave the story through twists and turns and generations of characters, I was ignorant in my belief that the story ended just as I took the last bit of food or gulped the last drop of milk. My mom would triumphantly say “The End” and then proceed to talk about the moral of the story so that I would not catch on to her tricks. 🙂
This aura and mystique of storytelling makes it’s presence even now in many facets of my life. Of course, I tell similar stories to my kids. But more importantly, I see myself applying this principle in my photography. After all, don’t they say a picture is worth a thousand words!
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against posed family portraits or standard architecture shots of buildings and landscapes. But a picture that brings out emotion, mystery, mystique or relationships is so much better. Images that tell a story, that convey a message, that elicit an emotional response are more powerful and long lasting – much like the childhood stories!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to effectively become a “storyteller” with your images.
Capture the details
Whether it’s a family session, a wedding, or even your own personal pictures, capture the details. After all your clients and you (in case of the personal images) have taken the time and effort to dress up and look good. Capture those details – they add meaning to the story!
Capture the emotion
Even if you are looking straight at the camera, capture the emotion surrounding you – be it laughter, tears, anger or pure simple joy!
Add an element of mystery
Do you know the lyrics to the famous Ronan Keating song? One line in particular – “You say it best when you say nothing at all”…same concept here…Add an element of mystery and let the viewer guess what’s going on. In come cases it is obvious and in some it is a guessing game.
Elicit a response
Create a finale
Just like a great story or a good book, it is very important to have a finale to your story. In most cases it is a parting shot, that shot before you switch off the camera. In some cases it is very apparent and in some cases it is inferred – like the view on top of this mountain!
So the next time you have your camera with you, take a more documentary approach:
- Does your story have a begin, middle and an end?
- Can you decipher the who, when, what, and where within the single images?
- Does your image tell a story and better yet, can you tell that story within a single frame??
Karthika Gupta, guest blogger for this article is a Lifestyle, Wedding and Travel Photographer and avid photo storyteller. You can see more of her work on her website Memorable Jaunts and follow her on her Memorable Jaunts Facebook page.