How the smartphone camera has made storytelling easier than ever
Single image storytelling in 6 steps
Providing a narrative in a single photo is more challenging. However, the first two steps below make it much easier.
- The intention of the photo – ask yourself why are you taking the photo?
- Context – what secondary supporting subjects and items need to be added to help provide the context. These provide visual clues to the storytelling
- Composition – how the subject and supporting contextual elements interact with each other. See related articles on composition - here
- Lighting – create a mood aligned with the intention. See related articles on lighting - here
- Aesthetic experience – pleasing to view, fascination, appraisal and emotion
- Editing – further enhance all of the above. Read more about the mobile photo editing course - here
This formulaic approach can be applied to almost any image, even landscape and long exposure images!
Multiple image storytelling
Puppy playing example:
Once you know the 'why' you will start to become better at the 'how' to capture and edit the image.
The intention of the photo is to capture the excitement and motion. Therefore, get down low and close to the action. The bright orange toy and centralised puppy (Lucy) is obvious as the subject. The angle of the toy and blur articulates that motion.
The Struman Optics fisheye lens adds energy and fun in a unique distorted perspective. The crop is also wide enough to provide the context of the puppy playing inside a home.
In the second photo, the intention is to show the size of the puppy. Shooting from a higher angle and small garden rocks in the scene provides a relative scale.
This article is part of the course: 'Strategically edit WOW images on your smartphone.'
We cover photographic intention below. Learn more about composition, lighting, aesthetic experience and photo editing here
The intention is the motivation and reason for taking the photo. Knowing the intention will ensure that when you look at the photo, you will know exactly what it is about. If you are like me and have to work hard at creativity – you are going to LOVE that there are guidelines to help us out!
Have you ever noticed people who take a photo to record what is happening in front of them? Being intentional in your images will result in better memory recall in years to come when your memory has long faded. You may have even experienced this yourself. Travel photos benefit by capturing the image from a storytelling perspective.
- A clear purpose (subject);
- Context (surrounding area); and
- Visual narrative (story)
Before taking a photo - pause to consider what motivated you to take the photo
Subject clarity allows you to experiment with different ways to capture and communicate that subject. You will start to really think like a photographer now, by:
- Focusing your mind (pun intended) to find more creative angles and perspectives
- Avoiding a cluttered background
- Looking at how light is falling on the subject
- Consider other elements in the photo.
As you can imagine, a happy snap without intention will struggle to evoke some sort of emotional or physiological response.
Knowing the intention of a photo will also be invaluable when it comes to setting up the image and the later editing process. You will know exactly what to introduce, remove, reduce and enhance to re-create the authenticity of the scene or moment as you saw it.
As you can see, editing an image requires a basic understanding of the above principles. There is so much more to creating a great image than using a filter. Different filters can enhance tones and colours. However, filters do very little to help storytelling.
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