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Thursday, June 28, 2018

#Photography: Strong Photos Tell Stories - What's Behind?

“An image paints one thousand words”: this means that what you can see in a single image would take many words to explain the contents, the action, the emotion, what it's about, and so on. It's visual storytelling. One powerful picture can evoke an instant response and connection. It allows visitors to shape what they see, tell its story for them inside their words.
Consider some of the very most iconic images in history – the sailor kissing the girl in a packed street by Alfred Eisenstaedt, the Migrant Mother holding her children through the depression by Dorothea Lange, Clearing Winter Storm by Ansel Adams. They are all powerful images that tell a story with impact.
Sometimes we want to tell more of a story of a location or an event, where we can take many images and tell far more of the story. This permits us to include extra detail elements, wider scene-setting shots, and have the action covered from different angles or points of view.
Doing this allows new challenges. The entire story needs to produce sense, have a beginning/middle/end sequence, as well as involve some action or conflict and possibly resolution. So the process is not only to take enough images to cover what is happening, but to then blend them into a coherent story helping to make sense to the viewer.

What is visual storytelling?

Here are some tips to help you increase the visual storytelling aspects of your images.

1. Answer the five key questions

  1. What's happening?
  2. Who's there?
  3. Exactly why is it happening?
  4. Where's it happening?
  5. When could it be happening?

2. Framing a sequence of events

In place of attempting to cram everything into one big image, where it can be confusing, shoot a series of more specific shots that relate to one another and tell the story that way.
Sequencing – will there be a group of images you can come up with that tell their own story?

3. Story structure

Your visual storytelling needs certain elements included to help it sound right, tell the story you want it to, and engage the viewer. That is called narrative
.Essential elements of story structure include:
  • Introduction  – Sets the scene, introduces important characters, sets the tone and theme.
  • Plot – What's happening, who is it happening to, what are the outcomes?
How about the big event? where's all the colour and excitement? That is the What and the Who and the Why – which are all part of the plot.
  • Themes – Your images must be linked in obvious, but subtle ways, to one another and this can be done in other ways:
    • Visual – Repeating elements (e.g. street signs), color (have a limited color palette or always show some a single color in each image).
    • Style – Have a consistent style in the way the images are shot or are processed, using a specific focal length or lens.
    • Consistency – Shooting exactly the same subject however in different places or situations (e.g. interesting doorways, statues, manhole covers, all in different cities or countries) or shooting exactly the same subject as time passes (a pregnancy story, or engagement to wedding story).
    • Relationships – Between people or elements within an environment.
Among the things Used to do do is provide some consistency with how they are edited, so tonally they are the same, other compared to the variations in color temperature of the sun at different occuring times of the day.

4. Context

The connection of all of the images to one another provide the entire context for the story to be structured within and therefore viewed. So when you are building your visual story you must have a notion of the context to frame all of it within. Otherwise, it might be seemingly a group of random images which could or may possibly not be visually related in certain way.
It might be that the short textual description or explanation sets the scene and provides the viewer with enough context to assimilate the images within. However, that option may not at all times be available so plan your story such that it can standalone alone visual merits.


Event or travel photography has its own challenges, and it may not at all times be easy for you to take into account doing visual storytelling when you are in the midst of things. Maybe you do not have to cover the whole event or trip – maybe, just a special percentage of it catches your interest.  Visual stories may be small and intimate too, they do not need to be grand scale every time. A family group birthday, the area school fair or market, a day trip the beach, a walk in the park on a wonderful evening – three images, five more shots, and several pairs of sequences.

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