How you can tell powerful stories through photography

Post by Open Colleges on August 7th, 2020

A picture is worth a thousand words. 

Never has this saying been truer than in the age of camera phones, instant uploads and Instagram. We’re saturated every day with images both urbane and heart-wrenchingly powerful; whether they appear in our news feeds, our socials, or in the newspaper.

But if you’re an aspiring photographer, how do you make your photos stand out amongst the crowd?

8 tips for telling powerful stories through photography

How can you turn your love of photography into a career and tell powerful stories through your images?

What is storytelling in photography, and why is it important?

Photographs are used in a variety of different ways – to entertain, to educate, to create a lasting memory, to illustrate a point. They can pull emotions from us in ways we may not expect.

A Wedding Photographer and a Photojournalist working in a warzone focus their respective lenses on very different subjects. But at the heart of their professions, the goal is the same – to capture those important moments and their associated emotions and make sure they’re not forgotten.

Photography can act as an incredibly powerful medium when it comes to telling stories. And storytelling, as we all know, is an integral part of humanity’s cultural heritage.

Is there a particular photo you’ve seen that has always stuck with you? Maybe it was in a magazine, or at an exhibition, or it happened to pop up on your social feed. Why did that image strike you? Did it inspire you in some way? Did it evoke a certain emotion?

Whatever the answers to those questions are, that photo stuck in your mind because the Photographer was able to convey a story that affected you.

Photography can be a powerful medium for storytelling if done right.

But the question is – how?

A career in photography can offer you varied and interesting subject matter.

How to tell stories through images

1. Learn the right photography skills

First and foremost – great photography is more than just having an eye for art. A photography course can help you master the technical aspects, and teach you how to properly adjust your camera in different settings to capture the perfect image. So no matter where you are, no matter if it’s day or night, you can make the most of your surroundings.

2. Why do you want to tell this particular story?

Taking a closer look at your motivations will help you tell a more authentic story that others will connect with. And by scrutinising your mission, you’ll be able to focus on your goal much easier. Is it to entertain, expose, educate? Who is your audience? What’s the message you’re trying to pass on? Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a much clearer idea of the exact kind of images you want to capture.

3. Research and plan your photography shoot

This can relate to the above point. After you’ve done some deep diving about the kind of story you want to tell, your next step is to research and plan. What is the best time of day or night to get the shots you want? How long will it take you to get to the location and set up? Do you need to plan any lighting?

4. Look at both the big picture and the little picture

This may depend on the kind of story you want to tell, but it helps to not try and ‘overload’ your audience with too many details all at once. Otherwise, your photo could just look like an overwhelming, cluttered mess. Focus on small details and try to find contrasting images that complement and accentuate one another.

Taking that perfect picture isn’t just about luck – it can sometimes take days, weeks or months of planning. Researching your subject matter is important on any photo shoot.

5. Try taking photos from different perspectives

Get up high or right down low – shooting from an unexpected angle can sometimes create a truly interesting photo, and will give your audience a chance to see something from a new perspective.

6. Learn what to keep, and what not to keep

There’s no need for you to include absolutely every single one of the shots that you took on you shoot. Maybe they’re all great, sure, but only a handful – maybe even just one – is needed to tell the story you want to tell. Also, don’t forget that you have the ability to crop your own photos. Experiment and see if cropping an image brings a stronger focus to your subject matter.

7. Try to capture emotion in your photos

More than anything, human emotions can help to tell a story like nothing else. More often than not, they’re the main focus of a piece.

8. Always keep your eyes open for unexpected surprises

Remember to be flexible! No matter how well you plan out a search or do your homework beforehand, sometimes things just won’t go according to plan. Maybe the weather will change without warning. Maybe the crowds are larger (or smaller) than expected. Maybe you get stuck in a traffic jam and miss the best natural light. But when things change, don’t always assume it’s for the worst. Keep on the lookout for interesting subject matter. You never know what might surprise you.

Are you ready to learn how to take amazing photographs?

At Open Colleges, we offer the CUA41115 Certificate IV in Photography and Photo Imaging as an online photography course.

Through this course, you’ll learn the ins and outs of photography, and gain a thorough understanding of the art-form.

Whether you’re looking to turn your love of photography into a career, or want to take your passion project to the next level, this course can help get you there.

What are you waiting for? Study photography with Open Colleges today and unlock your creative potential!

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