How to tell a story with photos
Stories don’t always need words—sometimes it’s more powerful to tell a story with photos. And, since today is World Storytelling Day, read on for some fail-safe ideas to work narrative into your photos!
The best stories have a tight plot, great characters and brilliantly convey emotion and mood. Whether you’re aiming to capture an event, location or family life, exactly the same applies when you tell a story with photos. So, before you start to take your photographs, book your photo shoot or plan your display, make sure you have a think about what story you are trying to tell and the type of shots you might need to tell it.
There’s a huge choice of off-the-shelf frames available for your multiple-shot photo stories, so you can really go to town here. The key thing to remember is to follow the basic three-act story structure:
Act I set the scene
Act II main action
Act III resolution/end
This can liven up a formal photo, like a wedding shot, very nicely. Your Act I photo might have the bridesmaids fussing with hair and make, the Act 2 photo would be the formal shot and the Act 3 photo could show the relaxed hugs and laughter that come after the formal pose. Display in a triptych frame for best effect.
Take a photo on the same date every year
You’ve probably seen photo collections like these on social media. Meaningful and effective, they work really well with babies and children as the changes are particularly apparent from year to year. If you use a seasonal backdrop, like autumn leaves, a Christmas tree or spring blossom, it will act as a reminder that now’s the time to take your annual photo.
Photos that capture personality
Think about times when you and your friends and family are in their element. Could it be when playing a cut-throat game of Monopoly? Dressing up before a night out? Or perhaps it’s something as simple as walking the dog on a sunny afternoon? Whatever it is, a person’s personality is best caught when doing something that makes them super relaxed and happy. Which brings us to…
Capturing people while doing their favourite activity is a fail-safe way of telling a story in a single shot. Don’t just show the subject posed in front of equipment but wait until they are fully engaged in what they’re doing. The look of intense concentration or effort on someone’s face is worth a thousand words. The moment a runner crosses the finish line, a painter or jeweller mid-project, or a shot of mum knitting while the cat plays with the ball of wool – all are perfect subjects to tell a story with your photos.
Don’t have the same person taking the photo each time
This tip is often forgotten as it’s usually the same person in the group who ends up holding the camera. They’re part of the narrative too! Share the camera around or hire a professional to take your photos so that no one ends up missing from your story.