TELLING STORIES THROUGH PHOTOS
By Kelly Marley
Through imagery, we can all be storytellers. How we share memories can make a lasting impression. We can inspire someone to plan their own adventure. Or for a moment allow them to live vicariously through our experiences. The images we capture and share have the potential to inspire others to see the world through a different perspective. All this can be accomplished when we are telling stories through photos.
Begin your next journey with the end in mind. What kind of storyteller do you want to be? What kind of emotion do you want to stir in others? How can you capture a shot of the Eiffel Tower that makes others see it in a different light? How can you create an image they have never seen before in magazines or coffee table books?
Do your research on your destination in advance. Then you will be prepared to capture the story in a way no one else can – through your own lens of the world.
CREATE YOUR STORY WITH A WIDE RANGE OF SKILLS
Travel photography offers us the opportunity to practice many genres of photography. Landscape photography helps anchor your trip, showing the environment at its best. Architecture is vastly different around the world, so don’t forget to look up and catch the towering buildings or monuments unique to the area. And definitely don’t forget the food! Capture it in natural light, close up, and make mouths water.
Street photography brings emotions to the story by showcasing the small appreciations of everyday life from place to place. Capturing a street portrait of a vendor selling beautiful scarves in India can highlight the country in a more personal way. Honing your skills in all these genres will stitch together a story only you can tell.
STREET PHOTOGRAPHY SETS YOUR IMAGES APART
Street photography is where your story becomes uniquely yours. No one else will ever capture that moment in time, that gesture, or that emotion. Learn to be stealth, practice shooting from the hip, and blend in with the crowd. Take a break from your walk and find an outdoor cafe so you can position yourself for the right subject at the right moment. In addition, engaging in casual, yet sincere, conversation with an interesting person can also lead to some interesting images. Through conversation and personal connection, you will often find your subject opening up with an engaging smile to add to your story.
With practice prior to your trip, you can gain the confidence and eye to capture the human element of everyday life and their own stories. Having a fast lens is key to good street photography. A 23mm or 35mm prime lens is the ideal lens, but don’t let that stop you if you do not have one.
GEAR AND TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS
If shooting in bright sunlight without any clouds, you may want to have a circular polarizer on your lens. Or you can use some of the film simulations native to your camera to improve your image quality. Use your aperture creatively to focus in on a small detail while blurring the background of the main subject everyone else is shooting.
Traveling with a mid-range zoom lens, a long telephoto lens, and a wide angle will serve you well in most travel situations. Alternatively, one lens that covers a wide range of focal lengths may be best if you are limited by space or weight. A lightweight travel tripod can make or break the quality of your images after sunset. I recommend having plenty of batteries and memory cards on hand.
KEEP THE STORY ALIVE
After your trip, consider ways to showcase and celebrate your images. If you post a few on social media and call it a day, then you are missing a huge opportunity to keep your memories alive. Can you fill an empty space on your wall? The experiences you capture can bring joy and stories to your home.
Producing a photo book may be the ideal way to preserve memories of your trip and can be a great conversation starter. Keep a few of your travel books on your desk at work for instant conversation and an ice breaker. It could give you the opportunity to make a personal connection and humanize an otherwise routine business meeting. People will remember you in a different way. You can even load them onto your big screen TV as a backdrop in your home when entertaining.
The next time you return from a trip, and friends and family ask, “how was your trip?”, you can now answer them with a story only you can tell. The greatest compliment is when you hear, “it feels like I’m really there with you!”. You never know, you just might inspire them to explore the world and they will begin telling stories through photos.
Shoot what makes you smile!