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The Art of Storytelling Through Photography

It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words! As we’ve become more and more used to having our photos taken and taking photos, the role of photography is as multidimensional as ever. The camera is a beautiful tool which allows us to capture vignettes of moments of time, frozen forever exactly the way we saw them. This can be used for so many different purposes, both practical and aesthetic. Behind each photograph is a story, and the image is merely a representative of a whole collection of moments. The best photographers are the ones who can evoke emotion and drive a narrative with just one or a few photos. This, of course, is no easy feat. It takes a trained eye and good instinct to frame a moment just perfectly to get the most powerful image possible. 

Here at balthasart, we love photography and we have a real liking for photographers who explore human elements. They pull us in with the power of the image and the narrative behind it. As usual, we are here to help up your game as an artist. Whether you’re a sharp-shooting photographer, or just an admirer trying to take better pictures for Instagram,  we’ve highlighted some things to keep in mind as a photographer trying to tell a story. 

Set the Scene

It is super important to make sure that first and foremost you are following the basics of framing in photography. There are certain mechanics that can instantly improve the impact and quality of the image you are taking, such as the “rule of thirds.” This is the golden rule of photography where, when framing a shot, the photographer splits the field into a 3×3 grid. Never center the subject of your photos, but rather have them along the angles of the corners of the grid in order to give some visual interest and allow the eyes to have the space to roam around the photo without too much visual clutter. 

Capture the Energy 

There it is: you have the idea for the perfect shot! The emotions you are feeling in the current moment and the energies of the subject are what you’re looking to capture. In that case, you need to make sure you really get the aura of the people or things you are photographing. Ask yourself what elements are significant to the story? Who are the characters and what are they doing? In order to plunge the observer into the scene of your story, these details of the narrative need to be clear! Keep key details, props and people in the frame. Be sure to take photos of full faces that show the feelings and motivations of the protagonists. If there is a lot of energy and movement in the scene be sure to capture that. If it is calm and serene, make that clear! If you can get even just a bit of the emotions felt by the subjects of the photo to be felt and understood by the observer, you did well!

Try a Series

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but if I’m doing my math right, a few pictures are worth a few thousand words! Sometimes it can be hard to fully encapsulate the entire scene into just one single photograph. Only one photo cannot tell the whole story, but rather plunge you into a moment in the story. To get even more detailed with your narrative, try doing a photo series of a scene, place, or theme!

I hope these quick tips have been helpful and that you’ll keep them in mind when you go to try and take some amazing photos. As I mentioned earlier, balthasart has a beautiful collection of photos from our talented sharp-shooters. These photos can truly transport you and make you feel every emotion of the protagonists. Below are some of my personal favorite storytelling photos on the site!