“A picture tells a 1000 words”. However, if we assemble 1000 random words, will those words make an interesting story? Probably not as often as we would like 🙂
You see, any photo is only as good as the story it tells.
If we show up without much thought and capture whatever, all we end up with is 1000 jumbled words that no-one wants to read.
If we are not sure of the story ourselves, then how can we expect our viewers to understand what it is we are trying to say?
It’s about being aware and armed with purpose. Your story might be as simple as ” I want to show my viewers how beautiful these river pebbles are as the first drops of rain come to rest” or “how peaceful and calm the reflections on the lake are”. Or “how beautiful the sunset is over the lake.”
Once you begin pondering the story, then you can ask yourself –
Is there a subject to help tell my story via?
What composition would best suit that subject and the story that I a trying to tell?
Which shutter speed might best portray that feeling?
Are there any distractions I should leave out of the frame?
You see, every decision we make in regards to how the photo is to be captured, can help or hinder the story we are trying to tell. The more cohesion within these subtle details, the clearer your story will be.
When we edit our photos, the same applies. We try and edit to create the feeling or mood that suits our story. Sometimes that can be as simple as trying to communicate what it felt like to witness the incredible sunrise, as the sun rose over the ocean and the first rays of light reflected off the wet rocks.
Now we are getting romantic!
Practice being mindful of the story and then as your skills in visual communication increase, you can begin to express deeper, more personal emotions within your photography.
A great example is shutter speed on a stormy day by the ocean. If we are trying to tell the story of the wind and the crashing waves, then what shutter speed would help convey that feeling. If we choose 30 seconds we will capture a very calm photo with no hint of waves or motion of the wind. However, if we decide on a 0.5 – 1 second shutter speed, we will capture just enough motion to show the wind whipping off the waves and the explosion as the waves crash over the rocks.
Which shutter speed we choose can have a huge effect on the story we tell.
We are not limited to just shutter speed as every single choice from capture to composition and right through processing has a profound effect on the mood and story of our photos. Next time you are out shooting ask yourself as you make each decision – does this help portray the story I am trying to tell?
Below is one of my emotionally deeper photos. I wonder if you can feel a little hint of what I was trying to say?