Storytelling with your photographs

One of the mottos that M&M lives by is “You don’t just take a photograph, you experience it!”

We really do believe that is important and try to help all of our tour guests experience their photographs while on a photo tour with us. We do our best by both providing ample cultural opportunities and professional photography guidance and instruction. But to get the most out of a photo tour, your own travels or photography in general you should give yourself goals or assignments.

One of the more interesting and visually stimulating things that you can do is to tell a story with your photographs. This will undoubtedly be a fun and interesting way to share your photo experience with friends and family. While in the “field” instead of snapping away at just anything incorporate the following techniques to create a narrative that brings your  experience to life.

We are constantly surrounded by storytelling in our every day lives. Books, movies, documentaries, you name it. They are all forms of story telling and you already have an understanding of this process just from being exposed to it so much every day. Using storytelling techniques with your camera to add depth and diversity you are able to weave images together to give a sense of scale to a location and a feeling of what its like to visit.

Establishing Shot.  The first step is to take an establishing shot. This shot should be a wide angle shot of your subject, background, foreground etc. To enhance the sense of scale in this photo include recognizable objects such as wildlife, people or trees. While these objects don’t have to me the main focus of the composition they will still give the viewer a better sense of the surroundings and scale of what they are viewing.

Close-up. After you have set the scene with your establishing shot, you need to focus more on the details that surround you. Take a close-up shot or a series of close-up. There will always be noticeable contrasts between all that is shown in the establishing shot (the location) and your own close surroundings – diversity of life, variation in geography, color, and terrain may be different. Use close-up shots to highlight distinct patters, textures and small creatures to try and capture as much “macro” as possible. Let the details supplement the story behind your establishing shot.

Medium shot. To add contrast to your establishing shot and close-up shots you can use a medium shot that has elements of both. The medium shot may include some background with the subject, showing its native behavior. Try to avoid any distracting background elements. To do this consider using a low aperture so that your depth of field is very small therefore creating an out of focus background.

These steps and suggestions of course are not set in stone but are a great way to get you thinking and moving in the right direction. If your purpose of telling a story with your photographs was to share your experience with others, it is a good idea to include someone in on your editing process. Ask them which shots are more interesting to them and which help them imagine what it would be like to actually be there. By asking the opinion of someone else you will be able to tell a better story and one that will hopefully speak to many.


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