If the old saying is true that a picture speaks a thousand words, imagine how many words a series of photographs put together can tell. As you take pictures, challenge yourself to try to tell a story with all of your images, as opposed to having each shot stand independently. Even worse is when each shot looks like all the others. The way to tell the best story with your photographs is to challenge yourself to diversify the types of shots you are taking. Here’s a story to illustrate this point.
A story of what not to do…
You plan an incredible family vacation to Disney World, and while you are there you want to make sure that you capture “the magic” by taking a lot of pictures. However, as you look back on your photos after the trip, you realize that they all sort of look the same. The same group pose of each member of the family standing in front an attraction or a character saying “cheese”.
If you are really honest with yourself, you will recognize that the photos are pretty boring. They’re boring because they all look the same with the exception of the background you were in front of at the time of the photo. There’s no interest, or diversity in the types of photos that you captured. Ultimately, there’s no story, and there’s no “magic” to be remembered.
A story of what you should do…
You plan an incredible family vacation to Disney World, and while you are there you want to make sure that you capture “the magic” by taking a lot of pictures. This time, you diversify the types of photos that you take so that each photo truly speaks a thousand words. You take shots of the main attractions that establish your location, wide shots of the kids playing in the park, tight shots of the kids goofing around in line, and candid shots of the kids’ reactions of seeing Mickey for the first time.
By diversifying the shots that you take, you are able to tell a story of the full experience, and now the magic has been captured.
3 tips to help you diversify your photos and tell a great story
Let’s change gears and use a different example to illustrate some tips to help you diversify your shots in order to tell a better photographic story. For this example, we will use a youth sporting event. These are frequently times where newbie photographers fail to diversify their shots the most. The reason is they focus entirely on taking shots of the sporting action.
While the shots capture different moments of action, they fail to tell a story of the entire sporting event. I’ll show you three tips on how to better diversify your photos by using the example of a youth baseball game.
Tip #1 – Capture different perspectives
Capturing different perspectives is tip #1 for a reason. If you can move around to different locations to capture images you will automatically start diversifying your shots because your points of view will vary, which creates interest. In addition to changing locations, change your angle for shots. Shoot some shots from a high vantage point, and some from a low vantage point.
Simply put, for purposes of this example of a youth sporting event, don’t just shoot photos from your seat in the bleachers for the whole game. Move around.
Tip #2 – Capture candid shots
Candid photos are the best way to truly document the emotions and essence of the moment. When you are capturing candid photos, the most important thing is to go unnoticed as the photographer. You want to blend into the moment and not direct the shot in any way. For the example of the youth sporting event, these candid shots often occur the most during warm-ups, or during breaks in between the action. Most people put their cameras down at these times, but they are missing so many great shots by doing so.
Tip #3 – Use a range of focal lengths
Using different focal lengths is a critical step in diversifying your shots. Use wide angle lenses to establish location, or to portray a sense of grandeur to a scene. Use medium angles (slightly wide to slightly telephoto like 35-75mm) to show different people and points of view that help to elaborate on the story. Finally, use telephoto lenses to fully capture emotions and personalities that are occurring during the story.
For the example of the youth sporting event, don’t just zoom in on the sporting action, instead use different focal lengths to tell a much more dynamic story.
Now that you understand the importance of diversifying your shots to tell a story through your photography, I encourage you to go back to the last event that you photographed. Whether it was your family vacation or a youth sporting event, look through all of the photos with an eye towards diversification. Did you capture different perspectives? Did you capture candid moments, and did you use a range of focal lengths to complete the story?
Leave a comment below to let us know what you found in your past photographs and if you have any tips for other ways to diversify your shots to tell a better story.