4 Types Of Photos That Are Essential To Story-Telling

Post originally appeared in the Huffington Post

 

We all have that one friend who shares pictures to social media with an album containing no less than 50,000 pictures in it. Mostly of the same scene. Possibly a different angle. But how far through that album do you actually get before you are bored to tears? Maybe 50.

There is a better way, my friend! And I am here to tell you exactly how to do it.

Story-telling with pictures is essentially taking photographs with purpose.
Photographic story-telling is selective.
It is not slapping a bunch of pretty pictures in an album (or blog post) and hoping the story unfolds. What happens is you end up confusing and overwhelming the viewer by the sheer amount of photos presented to them, as well as a lack of organization.
I will teach you how to add meaning and depth to your photo-story.

The Story I am Telling Today:

My best friend in the world  sister gave me the biggest honor by asking me to photograph the labor and delivery process for her. With zero hesitation (an excited jig, and a few tears), I said “Absolutely!”
She only asked that the images not be too graphic because she wanted to remember the experience. No problem!
After MONTHS of anticipation (and worrying that something would go wrong):
  • She texted me a 2:37 am on October 16th, 2015 to let me know she would be arriving at the hospital shortly.
  • I arrived at the Hospital around 7:30am right as she was receiving an epidural.
  • Her slow-progressing labor prompted induction medication and contractions began to strengthen around 1pm.
  • Around 3:30pm, her water was broken by the doctor.
  • She started pushing around 4:40 and at 4:51pm, Miss Bayleigh arrived. ♥

Please Remember:

  • My job was to (first and foremost) support my best friend. I was extremely focused on the pictures, but at the end of the day, wanted to be there for her.
  • While the pictures are not technically perfect, my main concern was to be a fly-on-the-wall. I turned off the shutter sound on my camera, as well as the focus light (it was bright orange.) I did not use flash and the room was dim (again, comfort for everyone else) so the shots I got are more emotional than sharp and bright. I hope you understand. 🙂
  • You do not need any fancy-shmancy equipment to follow these guidelines, any pictures will do!

Pre-Visualize Your Story

The first step to telling a story is to know what the story actually is.
Go figure.
Just like when you write a story or book or blog post or whatever you write, you have some purpose ahead of time writing it. You don’t just scribble words down on a paper and hope a novel falls out of the text.
The same things goes for photographic story-telling!
By Pre-visualizing, you are giving yourself a CLEAR image of what you want your story to say, and from what perspective you want to come from.
For Brittany’s labor and delivery story, I wanted to show her strength (she is one of the strongest people I have ever met), the relationship between her and her husband, as well as give her memories of a day she might not remember fully.
newborn baby after labor and delivery showing detail shots

 

Detail photographs of a father during labor and delivery

 

Different details of hosptial room during delivery photography.

 

4 Types of Photographs that tell the Story

 
1. The Establishing Shot- This type of picture is a wide shot of the scenery. You want to show the reader where the story is happening and establish some sort of “plot.”

    -Include things that make your location/scene unique ( like the hospital equipment I included or a major landmark, etc.)-Use the Establishing shot to emphasize what is taking place by including relevant characters and objects.
2. The Relationship Shot- This type of picture is halfway between the wide, establishing shot and a close-up portrait. (Think waist-level to right above the head.)

 

    -Connects the subjects and illustrates a relationship between them, such as when Matt is rubbing Brittany’s head. The shot is not super-wide or super-close, yet establishes a relationship between them two. -Relationship shots do NOT have to have people as the subject. The photo of Brittany’s hands gripping the hospital bed does not show the look on her face, nor what is actually happening, but implies that she is holding on to the railing to help ease the pain.
3. The Close-Up Shot- This type of picture is a close-up (think shoulders to top-of-head) and used for drama and to emphasize emotion.

-If possible, get physically closer to your subject, rather than zoom.
-Filling the frame is the easiest way to imagine a close-up shot.
-Think of close-ups as a magnifying glass, not a telescope.

 

4. The Detail Shot- This type of picture is a very tight shot. The point of the detail shot is to tell a piece of the story by getting up close and personal with the subject, showing a unique glimpse of the subject.

-You do not need any special equipment for a detail shot, just get as close as you can.
-The actual detail you photograph does not have to be “small” because small is a relative word. The detail needs to be a smaller part of a bigger subject.
-Size is not the only determining factor of a detail shot. Using color and depth of field is a great way of establishing detail, even when you have a wider shot. As long as the viewer’s eyes are drawn to a particular detail.
-Look out for reflections, textures, and silhouettes to start training your eye to “see” the details.




And that is pretty much it!!

If you go into a scenario where you will be taking pictures that you want to tell a story with, pre-visualize what kind of story you are telling, take the above 4 types of shots and put them together. Voilà!

Remember, less is more. Out of the 300+ pictures I took (mostly out of boredom because babies do not operate on a schedule) I ended up actually using only 26 to tell her story (below.)

An added bonus to this method is less post-editing! You will inevitably end up cropping less because you went into the situation prepared for what kind of shots you need. Score!

 


Proceed With CautionIf you are sensitive, these pictures may be too graphic for you or small children. Please E-mail me if you would like a copy of the tutorial without the images. 🙂

Smiling mom waits in the hospital for her baby to arrive

 

Husband and wife kiss in the hospital waiting for their baby to arrive. photography

 

Husband checks on his wife lovingly in the hospital while waiting for the baby to arrive. photography

 

Husband checks on his wife lovingly in the hospital while waiting for the baby to arrive. photography

 

Mother in pain grips hand rail while in the hospital waiting to birth baby. photography

 

Mother in pain grips hand rail while in the hospital waiting to birth baby. photography

 

Father rubs mother head and hair while she is having a contraction. Photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to take a second to thank Brittany and Matt for allowing me full access to their labor and delivery story. I feel extremely honored to have been present for the birth of my new niece and the privilege of capturing such a special moment. Thanks guys!!

Do you have a story to tell with pictures? I’d love to hear about it below!


UPDATE!!!
Here she is now, 8 months later and full of life, health and happiness.

Chelsea shoots people tampa newborn

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