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Photographing a Visual Story

Updated on January 12, 2014
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source

We are full of photographs from countless individuals that are all competing for our attention and the limited space in publications where you would submit your images in the hopes of getting published, making a sale and earning some money in the process, not to mention building your reputation.

If you follow the work of most professional photographers you begin to notice that the majority of their images tend to tell a story. Whether they invoke a feeling , whether this feeling is good or bad like love, kindness, joy or even anger the vast majority of them have one main purpose and that is to transport the viewer to the place where the photograph was taken.

An image with a story, one that evokes emotion and curiosity will rise above other images and catch the viewer’s attention. It can be the use of color, the subject matter, the angles and perspectives used, maybe even the equipment being used or even when the photographer breaks the rules.

All of these elements can work together or be used independently in order to make an image tell the story and capture the imagination as well as awaken the curiosity of the views which is in great part what keeps a viewer looking at the photo in the first place.

Most professionals start working on their photographs even before they arrive on location. They plan the shoot, they know the best times to shoot, they know where the action will take place, they know the customs of the location , what they can photograph and what they shouldn't, the usually use a local to guide them and to break the ice when approaching people on the street.

The also stray off the path and go on by themselves juts to seek photogenic opportunities always mindful on what is around the corner and how to capture that special image. They are not afraid to approach total strangers and snap that important shot.

As far as shooting they will use whatever arsenal is in their pack. Most shots of people taken with a long lens will avoid disrupting the activities of your subjects but they tend to make impersonal scenes.

For people it is often better to get in close and capture the details in their expressions, what they are feeling, the smiles and gestures that only the human can eye can show. Other times it is just as important to capture the location.

These visual stories can be real, set up. funny, mysterious or often truly sad. But they all tell their part of what life is all about.

A photograph of a person is often good as a stand alone but when you ad the environment then the scene is capable of telling much more. In other words you should aim for your photographs to display a visual story and which connects your subjects to your viewers.

A visual story, thus your photography does not happen by accident. It must be carefully constructed. As a result, very few truly successful visual stories exist.

For a long time, photographers have been searching , learning and researching the techniques, tools, and practices that allow photographers to build a set of compelling images that on their own guide viewers through the story within the scene and when merged in to a well composed set of images begin to relate the sense of being "there".

Professionals are also very keen on maintaining a solid technical mindset and approaching all of their shooting with a high level of professionalism.

A lot of times a professional will seek out locations where people are usually gathered. Just walking and keeping an open mind is the key that will make or break good photographs.

During The Famine Young Child Dying In The Gutter, China [1946] Geroge Silk CC BY 2.0
During The Famine Young Child Dying In The Gutter, China [1946] Geroge Silk CC BY 2.0 | Source

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      raydevlin: Thank you

    • raydevlin profile image

      Ray Devlin 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Nice article Luis - very descriptive of the work of a fine art professional.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      dialogue:Thank you

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 4 years ago from Philippines

      Very nice. I love photos that tell stories:)

    • dialogue profile image

      dialogue 4 years ago

      Good hub, nice pics. Well written, thanks for the good read.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      coleikerd: Thank you

    • coleikerd profile image

      Cole Ikerd 4 years ago

      Well said, thank you.