The 5 step guide to telling better stories with your photography

  • How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.

The 5 step guide to telling better stories with your photography

We all love stories.

We love to read them and we get excited watching them.

But sometimes we forget to use storytelling in our photography when documenting our everyday family moments.

How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here’s a start.

1. Keep your camera ready.

Keep an eye out for key moments as you never know what opportunity might come along. Storing your camera in a central location like the living room or the kitchen island makes it easier to grab at a moments notice. If you’re out and about, having it wrapped around your neck, ready to go.

How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.

2. Follow the heroes.

Show us who they are and what they do using clues. There’s always a main subject in a story – showcase them using environmental shots and supporting objects.

For example, our clues on the beach are sand, waves, seaside line, rocks, wind in the hair, birds, safeguard’s building, umbrellas in the sand, etc. Tell us their story, what they do and what they see.

How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.
How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.

3. See and shoot through the moment.

Observation, as well as intuition, can help you feel when a moment is about to happen. Be prepared to capture the critical moment your instinct is telling you is coming. For example…

As soon as a one-year-old tastes the cake for the first time, their next action is to dive their face right into it.

When an officiant announces Mr. and Mrs. for the first time, just moments after their first kiss as husband and wife, be ready for the huge smiles and fist pumps.

The moment your toddler wiggles free from the towel after an evening bath, you know they’ll giddily go streaking through the house.

Shoot less when you sense these moments! Instead of rapidly depressing the shutter button, slow down and focus on the best composition and wait for the moment to come to you. It allows you find one showcasing strong image when everything lines up perfectly, making a significant difference in impact to the viewer.

How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.

4. Capture the in-between moments.

Shoot the story transitions like when a subject walks or runs from one location to another, moving from one part of the story to another. These details allow the viewer to FEEL the moment, imagining the action and visualizing a full story based on the split-second moment.

I love to capture the details of movement following my subjects from one location to another.

How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.
How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.
How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.
How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.

5. Remember your story line.

Have a definite beginning, middle and end of your story similar to a movie screenplay or a novel.

You can tell your story in many photographs starting with an environmental wide angle shot to set the location of the story. Then capture the details like toys laying in the sand, movement in the grass, people walking towards their destination, etc.

Further on, you can photograph actions as well as quiet moments, keeping in mind the mood and emotion that you’d like to relay.

The end of the story will differ depending on your ending. Some endings may include a sunset photo on the beach, flowers on the side of the road, sleeping kids in the car exhausted after a big trip. How you end will depends on the feel of your story.

How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.
How do we tell a story in a picture? What main elements do we need to keep in mind while capturing and telling our story? Here's a start.

Only you know what’s important to the story, the treasured moments for your family. Make sure you choose the right angles and perspectives to accurately capture and tell your story, always reiterating the subject and story.

Always remember to enjoy your family moments. Try not to just be behind the camera but also include some self-portraits of you with your family.

Let the adventure begin!

About the Author:

Olga Levien, is a New Zealand artist, mum and a mentor. Everyday Storyteller seeking for adventures and capture family activities with her two active little ones. Successful wedding and family award-winning photographer. Visit Olga Levien online.
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8 Comments

  1. Kim Peterson Apr 06 2018 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    Awesome tips, Olga! Thank you for sharing!

    • Olga Levien Apr 07 2018 at 1:42 am - Reply

      Thank you so much Kim! I appreciate your kind words!

  2. Christopher Hall Apr 07 2018 at 12:46 am - Reply

    Thank you. I always look forward to these articles and this one did not disappoint.

    Chris

    • Olga Levien Apr 07 2018 at 1:43 am - Reply

      Thank you Chris! I appreciate your feedback! Mean a lot to me!

  3. Katie Apr 07 2018 at 1:22 am - Reply

    Olga, I loved reading this and I LOVE this series of your family! x

  4. Christopher Hall May 18 2018 at 2:20 am - Reply

    Ok. So now you have inspired me to start a new project just capturing the daily life of families

    Chris
    http://www.family-photographer.co.uk

    • Olga Levien May 18 2018 at 2:34 am - Reply

      Oh this is so awesome! I like your dedication, way to go!

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