Friday, December 7, 2012

Tell a Story with your Photographs

You know that feeling, like you had to "be there" to appreciate a bunch of photos someone's showing you?

I was on a 3-day travel photography course in May in Helsinki (at Kameraseura). Larisa Pelle was teaching, and she gave us a couple of tips on how to tell a story with travel photos, which will engage the viewer more. Since then I feel that storytelling in my photography has improved, and I strive to do that now with all my projects. I've also added several more "rules" for my photography, since I feel they can be important to think about.

I realize I'm truly guilty of not putting enough effort into my outfit posts. I guess that's why I haven't really put up any, either, in a while. While going through some photos I took of a friend this summer, I realized that I should tell a story with outfit photos, too, just like with my other photography.

Well, my sister-in-law always says "Sharing is caring". Although she mainly refers to goodies or clothes when she says that, I'm thinking that I should show you guys a little love by sharing these storytelling tips with you:

1. Go wider: Set the scene, just like in a book. "It was a dark Friday night in a chilly New York...". Where is it all taking place?

2. A complete look: Let them see the whole look, whether it is an outfit post or a photo of someone in a crowd with an amazing outfit. 

3. Take portraits: Whether you only have the one subject or if there are several (for example sellers at a market), they will add interest into your photo bunch.

4. Details: Get close to show details in clothing, hair, shoes. Or, if at a market, photograph for example products or fun details in someone's appearance.

5. Show some action: Don't just stand around posing! What is happening? What could you do in that environment? What do the surroundings compel you to do?

6. Consider Black&White: It can be fun breaking up color photos with some black and white (or vice versa). B&W photos have a more timeless feel to me. Photos with a lot of texture or contrasts work well in black and white. Luckily it is easy to try that out on your computer, and just trash if it didn't work. 

7. Change your perspective: Play with the environment! Duck down, stand on a chair... you get the picture.

8. Be creative: You can use the surroundings to create fun effects, for example here I had a really narrow depth of field (camera in Aperture mode (A or Av), turn the wheel to make f as low as possible)

I focused on the flowers in the middle, leaving the subject and the flowers near the camera unfocused. Dreamy effect, right? If you don't have a DSLR, you can still take these kind of photos with the portrait mode, just don't focus on the main subject but something that is closer/further away.

Do you guys have ideas on how to improve storytelling with photos? Please share!


  1. These are gorgeous - every single one.

    1. Thank you thank you thank you Nessa!

    2. The "show some action" picture it's amazing, could be part of a horror movie, or romance, love your tips! Thank you soo much!

    3. Thank you Isabel, that's so nice of you to say :)

  2. This is a great article. I like photos with story's. but somehow I never thought about how to reach this effect. thanks for the tips :)

    1. Thank you Gemma :) Without my travel photography teacher I wouldn't have started to think about these things either :)