Photographing to Tell a Story

When photographing, it is important to remember that each photo conveys a message or tells a story. Even a single photograph can make a powerful statement, similar to how a headline photograph functions. A series of photographs can also tell a story. It all depends on how the photographs are taken. Here are a few steps in taking effective photographs.

1. Read the Camera Manual

It is important to know the equipment prior to taking any photographs. This means reading the manuals for the camera and any other device that will be used during the shoot. Understanding how the camera works and functions beyond the basics will help unleash the photographer's creativity in taking great photographs.

2. Plan

Regardless of whether the shoot is in the studio or outdoors, it is important to plan. See the location if it is outside the studio and consider the equipment that may be needed for the shoot. Although it is considered impossible to foresee the exact weather conditions and other factors for an outdoor shoot, the planning stage will help increase the chances of getting great shots. If possible, take test shots prior to the actual shoot to play with the camera settings. This will make the photographing process much easier on the day of the shoot itself. Remember to bring a journal or notepad to take down notes of the camera settings as well as what aspects to shoot during the actual day itself.

3. Prepare the Equipment

Make sure that the camera and equipment are ready prior to the shoot. Bring lots of batteries and film or extra memory to store the images. This will allow for more pictures to be taken during the day of the shoot with little interruptions. It is also important to bring a tripod. Shaky photographs are not as effective in conveying the message and are a mark of an amateur photographer.

4. Use the Existing Environment

A shoot done in the studio gives the photographer more control on how the end photograph will look. Taking photographs outdoors or during events gives less control but the spontaneity can also give a livelier feel to the images. When taking photographs of events, photographers will need to rely more on how well they can play with the camera settings especially when taking candid shots.

5. Position the Subject

The focus, placement and arrangement of the subjects in the photograph can alter the concept and the conveyed message. Be careful not to cut faces or important elements out of the photograph. One way of directing the viewer's focus towards one area of the photograph is by making that the sharpest area and making the rest of the background blurred. This simple consideration can create layers into a photograph.

6. Edit the Photographs

At times, the photographs taken during the shoot require a bit more tweaking. This may include cropping, changing the brightness or even the overall tone of the image.

When telling a story, not all photographs need to be included. Select only those that are important in conveying the message. It can be as few as one for a headline to an unlimited number for a detailed documentation of an ongoing how to do project.