Photography – Telling tales

“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” Arthur Brisbane.

This quote refers to the notion that an idea, emotion, or feeling can be conveyed with just a single still image, and though it dates to the early 1900’s the statement is just as valid today. Storytelling is an important part of our society and photography compliments it.You can listen to a great storyteller for hours. An amazing show will have you coming back for more. A talented writer will have you in line waiting for their book before it hits the shelves. If your photograph is good enough, there will be no need for words.

Your style is what you chose to photograph and how you chose to take that photograph, it’s your subject and your technique. It’s a big wide world out there and your images pull together to show the world who you are. Do you really want them to see something that is not your best? Style is insanely personal. It’s only natural to favour subjects you enjoy, are drawn to or inspired by. Your technique may be something you’ve been doing for years and have realised is unique or it may be something you’ve admired in another photographer. If this is the case, make sure you have your own spin to the style. Imitation isn’t always the most sincere form of flattery. I believe that your style should change and evolve with you as you grow. As you photograph your way through life it will be natural to be interested in different subjects and to try new techniques. Is there something you always find yourself coming back to?

Do you find yourself taking hundreds of photographs at a time of the same subject trying to get the image that you want? Consider this statement: “Le moment decisif” from Henri Cartier-Bresson. This translates as the decisive moment. The best possible moment to take a photograph. When you decide to take a photograph of something, spend a moment, and think about what you want to get out of the shot. Take a deep breath and consider how you feel about the area, the subject and what you want to convey to the people that will see this image. Adjust your camera settings to suit. Frame up. Make sure the composition is perfect.   Make sure that you remove any small items that could mess up the shot – like cigarette butts on the ground – before you take the picture. It’s a lot easier to edit them out in real life than spend time on editing the image on the computer later.

On this note, when you’re uploading images – whether its to your blog, facebook, website or portfolio – consider the consequences of a single vs multiple images. Do you need 3 photographs to tell the tale or will one suffice? Do you have 4 amazing images and a 5th that comes close but doesn’t quite get there? Do you have 5 stunning shots, full of power and emotion, but each with slightly different stories? Unless your photographs work together to tell the same story (the story you want to tell), use them alone or in groups that do. It’s tempting to upload all of your beautiful shots and show the world how amazing you are, but start thinking like an editor. If you had to pay for these photographs, which would you use?

When it comes down to it, your photographs tell another story too: They let everyone who views your work see you. They see whether you care about your subject and its portrayal, how you compose your images and your style, they see whether you are patient and care about quality as well as being talented or if you’ll just slap anything together and put it out into the world. Chose to take the time. Chose quality.

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