Seven Tricks That Will Help You Tell Better Stories With Your Camera

Words by Scott Bourne, Platypod Pro
Edited by Eryka Bagwell

Great photographers show – they don’t tell. If you find yourself talking and explaining why or what your image is about, it may be a sign that the image isn't really that compelling.

Understanding "show don't tell" is both basic and important. But it’s not nuts and bolts. It’s conceptual. It’s 30,000 feet thinking. It’s important to those of you who really want to excel at image-making. Here are a few ideas to elevate the quality of your storytelling with your camera.

1. Make sure you admire the subject of your story. You don’t have to like them (it helps) but you have to admire them.

2. You need an area of focus or interest to key on. Most photographers include too much in their images. Eliminate anything that doesn’t add to the point you want to make. Great photographers know what NOT to include in their photos. When in doubt, leave it out.

3. Photograph your story from several points of view and shoot it again and again. You’ll get a better sense of what’s important if you have the perspective of time.

4. Don’t forget the basics. Subject, Attention, Simplify – what’s the subject of your image? How can you draw the viewer’s attention to that subject and then, how can you simplify the whole thing?

5. Use tension in your photographs. Which doesn't belong and why?

6. See the picture(s) in your mind BEFORE you press the shutter. Know what you want to say with your camera and what the final print would look like, THEN press the shutter.

7. Go back to a place five, 10 even 15 times. Make sure you are seeing everything there is to see so you can pick and choose the most important elements to use in your photos. Alternatively, photograph the same subject five, 10 even 15 times. Same idea.

These tips are just a starting point. If you start to think like a storyteller instead of a photographer, your photography will start to improve.


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