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Tell a Story

Images that tell a story are more interesting than pretty pictures. When we are selecting an image to post, composing an image to make a photograph, or designing a makeup look, thinking about story is a sound idea.

The importance of story can be seen in Instagram captions – people are telling us the story of the image. Sometimes to help convey the message, sometimes because the story is not apparent from the image, and sometimes because they can’t help themselves. Regardless, the desire for the story is apparent.

And the story does not need to be complex, just something to lift the image out of the ordinary. A person looking at something out of the frame will often grab attention. So, will an interesting prop. The right clouds and light in a landscape can generate a feeling of wonder, or dread.

Makeup tells a story; who is our subject, what have they seen? Special effects makeup can tell a very detailed story, and does not rely on a photographer’s skills to get the message across.

I find subtle messages work best, even with darker themes. A hint of what is to come is often a stronger story than an obvious picture. Pink light and a baguette vs. Eiffel Tower; both say Paris.

When photographing live or street, look at the subject, the surroundings, above and behind as well. There are elements of the environment that strengthen the message. At a rock concert, a guitar solo looks great zoomed in, but a fan swinging on a speaker stack can add volumes to the message (pun intended).

Stylists and Makeup Artists that can tell stories with their work will always be in hot demand. Not every photographer can, or wants to, create a story themselves. Some want to clearly capture your story, not tell their own.

So how?

The quickest way to improve you story telling is to think and look. Think about what the story is or should be. Look at what supports that, or what is needed. And practice, practice, practice. What worked, what did not, what works for you!

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Image Editing Tips

Better Images Guaranteed

There are millions of books, videos, and training services promising to make you better at making images.

Most of them are inspirational – they are designed to make you feel like you can be a success. I call these materials entertainment, because they are filling an emotional need rather addressing a technical issue, or knowledge gap.

Don’t get me wrong, these are fun, and serve an important purpose – motivation! You can learn a lot from them, but it is mainly the same things, taught by different people, in different ways.

So, what are my editing tips?

Tip One

”Leave everything for a day” before you share an image. Nothing looks the same the next day. Sleeping on it is always good advice 🙂

Tip Two

This follows hot on the heels of tip one – ”Never make destructive edits”. Because when you look at something a day later, you will probably want to turn some things down, and maybe some things up. So layers and sliders are your friends, flattened images are not.

Tip Three

”Have a good look at your image before you start”. A good long look will save you editing fails. Sometimes an image looks good initially, but has a terrible flaw that does not become apparent until after you have wasted time editing it. This means starting again with a different image, or more editing. Little things, like eyelashes coming unstuck, weird hand placement, and men urinating in the background, can all “appear” after an edit. Save some time and look closely.

Tip Three (B)

Don’t edit sequentially – 2 images that look similar are not as good a use of your editing time as 2 different images. You can always come back to editing any you skip over, but don’t take a chance of getting “bored” with your subject before you get an edited image from each “look”

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Why Monochrome?

Monochrome just means one colour. The term is often used with black and white, but it also includes other single-colour photography techniques, like sepia, and cyanotype. I’ve even seen red and gold used beautifully.

Colour and monochrome have very different presentation. The beauty, and challenge, of monochrome photography is to use the absence of colour to bring out the message of an image more clearly.

To do this intentionally requires thought and planning, like any good image.

Why do some images look better in monochrome?

Texture and contrast information comes from light and dark. This is what we are left with when we remove colour. In a full-colour image, the colour can work with the tone and texture, or it can fight against them. In a beautiful colour image, everything is working together. The colours in a sunset often draw your eye in the same way as the tone and contrast – you won’t see many B&W sunset photographs because of this harmony.

Where you will see monochrome (or reduced colour) used is when there is something else in the scene – a solitary hut or figure that would be lost in the golds and yellows of the sunset, but is clearly part of the story in black and white.

With noir photography (think 1920’s gangsters), monochrome often looks best. A colourful silk tie, bright blue suit, or yellow dress, might not sit well with a gritty, mob theme. This is a case where the mood of an image conflicts with its colour.

Nostalgia is another common use for monochrome. Many subjects are often seen in black and white, because that’s what people had at the time. A similarly themed image in colour may not have that same feeling of yesteryear.

An image shot intentionally to be seen in black and white will almost always look better than an image that is run through filters to see what looks best. That said, intuitive photographers may make colour images, with strong tone and contrast, without realising they have a perfect candidate for a monochrome image.

With practice, you can see in your mind what an image looks like in monochrome, without having to make an exposure. This same skill can help you identify a monochrome gem in your existing catalogue of images. Looking back at your previous work, and testing it in monochrome, can help you identify those scenes that work in black and white. Who knows? You might be a black and white photographer is disguise, and at least you will have some fun with filters.

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Madison Harlen

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Swordcraft Newcastle 12 February 2021

Howdy – Images from the Swordcraft Newcastle battle of 12 February, 2021.

Enigma Art Images

Images from Miranda (Nicole) @ Enigma Art
Facebook: Enigma Art

Colour Images

Monochrome Images

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Cassidy Nancarrow

Turquoise

Monochrome

Shoot 1

Shoot 2

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Brooke Jane — Screenland

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Jasmin Screen

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photomelancholia

photomelancholia.strobeglow.com

photomelancholia
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Dryad #3

HMU: Holly-May Elizabeth Walters
www.facebook.com/hollymaybeauty/

Model: Tyler-Jane Lumsden

Dryad #3