Learn the Art of Visual Storytelling Through Photography
Storytelling in photography is an invaluable tool that allows us to communicate beyond words and deliver a visual narrative that touches our hearts and minds alike. An image, or a set of images, that tell a story can have a profound impact on the viewers, connecting with them on a level beyond the aesthetics of the photograph. In this video, I’ll be talking about the art of visual storytelling and how you can turn your photography into beautiful artwork that tells a story.
Video: The Art of Visual Storytelling Through Photography
When I look at the scene like this, I see a perfect opportunity for storytelling. A lot of us might think there’s only one or two shots we can get out of this scene. Instead, what I see is a whole bunch of details waiting to be captured. A landscape like this has so many pieces we can use to craft a story and I’ll show you how. We also apply the art of visual storytelling when we shoot weddings and engagements. Then, later in the video, I’ll walk through my editing process in Adobe Lightroom. At the end, we’ll have a beautiful collage of images worthy of printing or hanging up on a wall.
Wide, Medium, Tight
“Wide, Medium, Tight” is a technique we use to capture all the details in the scene. We start off with a wide shot to establish the scene. Then, we capture the medium shots to capture the story. Lastly, we get the tight shots that showcases the intricate details. We’ll be following this exact process as we photograph this location.
Wide: Establishing the Scene
I’ll take our first image based on the example in the last video about How Your Phone Will Make You a Better Photographer. I tilt the camera down to get most of the landscape in the frame. Then, I closed up to f/5.6 to get that wide depth of field. Timed with the waves, we get our wide establishing shot.
Medium & Tight: Capturing the Details
First, I got a shot of the waves and the mist by the horizon.
Don’t move on just yet! Look at the details in the rocks, or the way the water crashes against the sand. All we have to do to tell a story is recognize what’s already in front of us. Here are some of the images I got from this location.
Before moving on, I got some photos of the surfers. Since the 70mm wasn’t telephoto enough, I relied on the 45mp sensor of the R5. Then, in post-production, I can crop in and still have more than enough detail left over. Now that we have all of our shots, let’s take it into post and select out our images.
Before we begin, if you haven’t already, go ahead and download the exercise files here to follow along as I edit.
The first thing I want you to notice is that none of the images are particularly interesting on their own. If you have a hard time selecting out good photos from your own shoots, you can fall back on this technique. We’ll be creating a sequence of images that all work together to tell a story. Together, they create a visually interesting piece of art.
Step #1: Edit All the Images
The first step is to make sure all the images are cohesive with Visual Flow‘s new Black & White Mixer Presets. We’ll be using these to edit our photos to bring out the dramatic look. I began with the Cinematic HDR Landscape preset. Then I lifted the whites to get that pop.
Then, select the rest of the images and apply the same settings across the board. Press Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + S to copy all the settings (Excluding local adjustments, crop, and spot removal). Scroll through the photos to match the appearance of each image. Here are the final settings for each image.
Use Survey View to review the images altogether. Keep an eye out for the white and black points. Make sure they match.
I also added in a Medium Film Grain as an extra touch.
Step #2: Cropping the Photos
I imagined these to be arranged as square wall art pieces. So, I’ll make the crop on each photo. For your own images, crop them to your liking.
Step #3: Arrange the Layout
Select three at a time. Choose a wide, medium, and tight shot. Here are some trios I picked out.
The goal is to showcase the details from far to close. You can apply this technique to any genre. Here are some samples from some of the weddings we’ve shot.
I hope you enjoyed this video/article. Next time you’re out on a shoot, keep an eye out for all the details around you. Follow the Wide-Medium-Tight principle to capture every bit of your scene. Then, watch the story unfold in post as you combine all the photos together instead of relying on just a single image. For the Black & White Mixer presets, be sure to visit Visual Flow and check out all the other available presets!