Thank you to Elizabeth Willson of It's Still Life Photography for this great post about visual storytelling and authenticity in your photography! I loved it and hope you do too!
It was a process. As my children grew I dedicated my free time to learning the technical aspects of my camera. To obtaining gear. To capturing images for others. Yet over the past year, I’ve found joy in embracing the story. Each time my camera is raised is an opportunity. It’s a chance to capture a bit of the true life unfolding in front of my eyes, my lens. Not every story is perfect, yet my challenge is to find the emotion and beauty in it. To connect the brilliance and light to the heart.
While each image may tell a story, sometimes a collection of photographs gives the viewer an enhanced scope of the richness of the moments. Here are a few simple suggestions on how to document YOUR story for you to experience in your memory and others to grasp through your visuals.
Choose an event.
In our home of South-Central Pennsylvania, we are surrounded by gorgeous orchards, fields and farms. Our climate leaves only a few short weeks to pick seasonal fresh fruit. When I received an email that our favorite apple-picking orchard offered cherry-picking, I jumped on a free afternoon. Packed up water bottles and my four kiddos, rolled the windows down, and headed for the mountain. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. An afternoon at the playground, baking cookies, your bedtime routine...
To grasp the “big picture” use a wide angle lens. My go-to is the Canon 24-70 2.8L. If you find yourself with the inability to go wider with a lens, then simply back up!
Capture the details.
Cherry-stained finger nails? Yes! Yes! Yes! The little things all combine to create the larger narrative and add the sensory element (smells, tastes, touch) that enrich the story as it unfolds.
Vary your perspective.
Shoot from above, shoot from below. Lie down, climb trees. Perspective makes a huge impact in giving the viewer a more holistic look at the story.
By using framing of objects in the foreground you can create a “tunnel” effect, like you are peeking through a keyhole or looking glass into the action. There is a mysterious and secretive nature to shooting through objects.
Switch up your lenses.
Yes, it’s ok to change lenses in the middle of a cherry orchard! Personally, in order to add a bit of wonder to my images I shoot with either of my Lensbabys (Velvet 56 or Sweet 35), but you could grab a macro lens, switch out primes or even free lens to get varied effects that contribute to your story.
Capture the connection.
Relationships are tough, right? But they are so very rich and deep. I simply adore the connection of my children particularly during the rare moments when they peacefully work together (and enjoy one another).
Get. In. The. Frame.
I know, I know. But bottom line is, YOU. WERE. THERE. TOO. And although you remember it was you behind the lens, your children and loved ones (and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) want that visual reminder that you shared intimately in their story. So, sit your camera down on the ground (gasp!), set the timer and run :) Or if there happens to be someone else around, pass off your camera to someone you trust. Let go of how you may look and embrace your beautiful role in the story.
Include photographs of “things”
While every story has a “main character”, the setting and supporting elements certainly contribute (sometimes pivotally) to the plot. Grab those “things” even when the people aren’t present.
Contrary to what you may see on Pinterest-perfect social media, I’m sure you’ve experienced that stories have their ups and downs. There’s whining, there’s frustration, there’s disagreements, there are hot, tired children (and let’s be real, parents too!). Go ahead and capture them. We’ve all been there. And it’s incredible to share the joys and triumphs through it all.