STORY-TELLING IN PHOTOGRAPHS

 

I'm so excited to be able to get on to this subject - story-telling. I think it is one of the most important things to photography. 
Without story, you can have a 100% technically correct photo that just sits in front of the viewer causing no emotional impact at all. Not handy when you want to gain attention. We need to get emotional to get attention. 
We all want impact, right? 

Before you pick up the camera, there are a few questions to ask. 

What are you trying to tell with this photo?
Then...
what light will tell that story?
what props to include, if any?
where to crop - close-up or a wide shot?
any particular colours for brand or emotion?

Telling a story through photos isn't just held in the portrait genre. Stories can be told through product placement, including props, adding a human element, and even use of space within the frame. You can fill the frame with details or place a singular point of focus in the frame with lots of space surrounding. 

Examples: 
- Clouds on a bright, summer day give the feeling of hope, fun, light and surrendering. 
- Clouds on a stormy winter day look harsh, dark, gloomy and unhopeful. 
Same subject, two very different feels and stories. Light, context and texture all play together.

- One cupcake sitting on a plate could be saying 'this is what I'm having for morning tea'.
- Multiple cupcakes lined up shows popular, yummy food ready to buy and devour. 

How does dark shadow make you feel?
How does a bright image make you feel?
One thing to focus on?
Lots of things to focus on?
What does the body language or subject placement say?
Do the colours tell a story or give you a feeling?


PHOTOJOURNALISM - A tale through a series of images:


Events -
Details
Close ups of people and things
Social pics
Overview to show ambience and atmosphere of event

 

Check out this event... Bloggers United.

At a market -
Products
Individual stalls
Customers at stalls
Crowds walking aisles
Sellers dealing with customers
Overview of site - perhaps from up higher or entrance with signage

 

These market photos were just taken on holiday - but you get the idea...


A cafe -
Food prep
Kitchen staff working
Food dishes
Coffee being made
Customers happy
Overview of shop
Details of chairs/quirks/coffee cups etc
Exterior
Something with logo
Happy staff doing things

 

Look at what can be achieved with no fancy lights or equipment...

 

STORY-TELLING TIPS


Draw the attention to what you want by -
 

Leading the eye with lines - human, fences, objects in a row, graphic lines, light

Lead in lines made naturally by the ocean in the sand. Draws the eye into the photo.

Lead in lines made naturally by the ocean in the sand. Draws the eye into the photo.

 

Leading the eye with dark to light

All attention on what they are doing. My eyes immediately go to where the light is, and particurarly the girls face of concentration.

All attention on what they are doing. My eyes immediately go to where the light is, and particurarly the girls face of concentration.

 

Selective focus - blur out objects around your subject, so the eye knows what you want it to look at. Eyes look at sharpness.

It's obvious that this photo is all about the burger, not the shop. But by keeping the blurred shop in the background it's made for a colourful and fun shot.

It's obvious that this photo is all about the burger, not the shop. But by keeping the blurred shop in the background it's made for a colourful and fun shot.

 

Framing the focal point by shooting through window, door, foliage etc

Shooting through foliage shows there are more plants, not just the one container. But it also softens the idea of 'nature' in this factory image.

Shooting through foliage shows there are more plants, not just the one container. But it also softens the idea of 'nature' in this factory image.

 

Show context when taking a portrait. Leave enough space in the frame to show what your subject is doing/where they are

If I cropped closer, we wouldn't know what is so special that requires a selfie. In this case, it's the mighty Murray River while they are cruising.

If I cropped closer, we wouldn't know what is so special that requires a selfie. In this case, it's the mighty Murray River while they are cruising.

 

Don't always get someone to look at camera - candid shots show emotion, story and give memory to that particular time

We all know the faces kids can pull when asked to smile for a photo. So don't. And you can then photograph their emotion and moment in time.

We all know the faces kids can pull when asked to smile for a photo. So don't. And you can then photograph their emotion and moment in time.

 

Consider your backgrounds, patterns and colour.
Soft, urban, gritty, textured, calming green, vibrant red, playful pink

Yummy cake and cream - makes you feel like Grandmas' kitchen. Homely? Stainless steel isn't but rustic wood is. 

Yummy cake and cream - makes you feel like Grandmas' kitchen. Homely? Stainless steel isn't but rustic wood is. 

 

Shoot angles -
From above - get quirky and cute. Big heads and small bodies result from using a wide angle lens. 


Looking up - make them look bold, important, confident


Side - like watching a scene unfold, you are seeing the subject and what they are doing/giving attention to


Front - confronting, we know what to look at


Behind - the back of your subject, getting behind the action or by turning around yourself

 

Take 5 seconds to look at your framing.

Is it what you want?

 


HOMEWORK:


Find the following photos
- you can flick through a magazine, look at Pinterest, use Google, look at Photographers websites, advertising campaigns, doctors waiting room walls - the world is full of images. 
Perhaps you could start a Pinterest board of images you like and share with us. It's great for inspiration, idea keeping and helping with your next photo shoot. 
*you don't need to upload these to Facebook; I just want you to start thinking about what goes into photos to make an emotional response

Sad
Happy
Intriguing
Hungry
Angry
Dreamy

Why and how do they make you feel like that?
What sort of light?
What props?
Body positioning and language?
Eyes and face?

Now take your own and upload to our Facebook page. Don't forget to hashtag #betterpicsforbusiness and #heidiwhophotos (plus all the relevant ones to the pic) on Instagram so we can get some social media practice. 

1. Create a happy and bright photo and a moody and emotional photo. Concentrate on trying to say something in your photo rather than making it look pretty. Upload one of each to Facebook.

2. Try using some of the techniques we have talked about in this lesson. Upload your best three.  It could be the use of colour, framing, leading lines or light you haven't used before.

 

NEXT LESSON: Rules of photography and Light


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