The Art of Telling a Story through Photography

PhotographyPhotography is one of the most recognised and longstanding forms of contemporary art. With it, imagery has become much easier. All you need are a trusty camera and an imaginative mind. You could use some help from an editing suite for a more vivid and interesting photograph.

Just like any form of art, photography is used to tell a story. It’s always been an effective way of conveying a message, as it’s straightforward. Visual storytelling through photography, however, goes beyond shooting a random subject or following the Rule of Thirds. You need to make sure that the elements you incorporate will live up to the adage ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. Just look at a series of wedding pictures or portraitures taken by a professional photographer in Cape Town or any other city.

Here are some things to remember:

The Idea

All things should start from an idea. When it comes to structured shoots, photographers may refer to it as the theme. The theme will provide direction for the entire story. To convey a whimsical and nostalgic story, you may adopt some elements from fairy tales. For instance, get a young model who will wear fairy wings. To reinforce the idea of nostalgia, you may choose a park or a barn as a setting.

The Tale

The story is in the details, so be mindful of the elements you’re going to incorporate. The aspects you need to mind include the mood of the environment and the facial expression of the subject. For the mood, you may choose to use the depth of field to emphasise some things in the foreground or the background. You may employ blur for some drama. Your subject is an actor, as well. So be a director and tell exactly what your actor should do in front of the camera.

The Lighting

The lighting is still part of creating a mood, but it needs a separate section for its technicality and complexity. Lighting is all about contrast, so make sure that the line between the light and dark sections of your photograph is clear. To understand this, see how chiaroscuro works. It’s basically harnessing the artistic qualities of highlights and shadows. If your lighting tools cannot help you achieve the preferred effects, you can use an editing application. Filters can help you colour the shadows and highlights.

Coming up with a story with a photograph should be treated like drawing an image for a picture book. The image should be vivid, straightforward and full of depth.

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