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!