Look at the above image. Does it talk to you?
Does it make you stop for a moment?
Do you wonder what the guy is looking at?
What is he thinking?
You almost construct a story in your head. He is looking at something distant, something that has made him stop and stare at it. He is reminded of a life moment that changed the course of his life. And he is wondering, am I on the right track? On this wet path, in this wilderness, after doing all I wanted to do so far, why am I feeling so empty? So alone?
I had never thought of photography as a medium to tell stories.
I must admit that my photography skills were limited to taking family and travel photos.
But when I came across Matt Parker’s site Images With Stories, I got fascinated by the images he had posted there and the stories they invoke in the viewer’s mind.
The ease with which we can take photos these days with our mobile or digital cameras is causing frustration rather than satisfaction. We click mindlessly without even bothering to learn a few simple techniques that can result in much better images, the images that excite us and excite others as well.
“A good photographer,” says Matt, “takes pictures that prompt a reaction in people. Their work provokes discussion. As a result, their photography is satisfying and worthwhile.”
Sounds like storytelling?
A good photographer is a storyteller. Like a storyteller, she picks which stories to tell and which bits to highlight.
Finding a purpose in photographs is the first step. Why are you taking these photos? What you want them to say with them? Once you start asking these questions, the stories start becoming apparent.
Concentrating on creativity rather than technology, you can do a lot even if you don’t know much about photography. Some of the techniques Matt suggests on his site are:
- Have a theme. When taking photographs, look for a theme and take photos to exhibit that theme.
- Use compositional techniques by considering foreground, middle ground and background.
- Create analogies with photographs. A cold, foggy winter day in the middle of nowhere might mean longing, while fog might represent a blanket of security.
- Add words to your images.
Yesterday was a perfect day in Canberra. Blue skies with white clouds. I decided to test my newly acquired knowledge and drove to the Stromlo Observatory to take some photos. A van full of cyclists pulled in the parking lot simultaneously as I did and I had my theme.
I took several photos of the cyclists. Using some simple editing techniques, I made a photo journal on the theme of cycling.
Here they are.
We all own phones which have better cameras than the real cameras used to be even a few years ago.
Use some of Matt’s suggestions and take some photos. Who knows, you might start a new hobby.