How to tell stories with photography – by Charly DoveOctober 6, 2017
The blogging industry has changed so much over the last five years. Remarkably, in the early days we just had thumbnail images in our posts! That seems like a million years ago now doesn’t it? The images we feature in our posts today absolutely have to make an impact. They must be big, sharp and most importantly paint a picture. The photographs I include in my blog posts certainly help tell a story. Of course my audience will read what I’ve written (I hope!) but I want them to imagine they’re with me and photography is the best way to achieve that.
Whether you’re a beginner and you’ve just started out on your blogging journey or you’re a seasoned pro wanting to up your photography game, images form an essential part of storytelling. I see photography as something I feel rather than something I do. But either way, practice will help identify the style of photography that excites you most. When it comes to storytelling, here are a few pointers to help you on your way.
Ask yourself how you’re drawing your readers into a post. Think about what you’re communicating with your photographs and always have a hero image first. Consider how you want your readers to feel when they see your images too. Backgrounds can dramatically change a photograph so think about the mood of it and whether there’s anything detracting attention from the subject. Changing your perspective can make a huge difference as well.
Show context & emotion
Sometimes an image of a person for example is not enough to tell a story. Think about showing context and how you can make your post more meaningful. Emotion is of course a fundamental part of storytelling. Close-ups of faces and eyes are a great way to show happiness or sadness and with kids, make sure you get down to their level. Using a longer lens will mean you’re more likely to get better results as children will forget you’re waving a camera at them!
Adopt a theme & experiment
Using a visual theme is a great way to place emphasis on the story you’re telling. Colours, shapes, patterns or styles can make great themes. Locational themes too providing they’re not repetitive. You can experiment with wide angled shots and close-ups so you have a good selection to choose from when you come to edit. A few great photographs often tell a better story than a collection of average ones.
Isolate & frame subjects
Isolating your subjects is a great way to show your audience who your main characters are. When photographing children for example, see what’s in the background – crop out any distractions. Candid photographs often tell great stories but you have to be patience to get the shot you really want.
Framing is a key part of storytelling and there are natural shapes all around us – trying looking for lines that are unusual or unique. You can create a very different photograph just by changing your perspective too. Or creating a calming effect by using horizontal lines, vertical lines show stability.
Think about the light
Finally, think about the light. Outside is the best option and while golden hour, after sunrise or before sunset, is wonderful it’s not always possible to be outdoors then. Instead think about the direction of the light and experiment. Ideally you want your light source behind or to the side of you. Direct sunlight can be harsh so aim to avoid that.
Once you find the kind of themes and styles of photography you enjoy, storytelling will become second nature. Taking a wide range of shots will certainly help when it comes to editing whether they be wide angled, close-ups or detail orientated. Isolating and framing subjects with no background clutter will only enhance your story. Most important of all however is having as much fun as possible!
Charly is a business owner, blogger and photographer with 20 years’ experience in the marketing industry. She’s Editor of parent & lifestyle blog PODcast and family travel blog POD Travels. She was a Photography Finalist in the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2016 & 2015 and the MAD Blog Awards 2016 & 2014. Charly lives in Surrey with her husband and six year old daughter.