About this time last year we shared the story of photographer JP Stones recreating Indigenous Aztec Myths through cinematic portraits to spread awareness of their cultural heritage to younger generations in Mexico. Now, about a year later JP has starting to release episodes from his new series on Storytelling for Photographers which is inspired by his cultural photography work with the Mexica (or Aztec) people in Mexico.

In this series, JP tries to demystify visual storytelling for photographers by taking a look at how the story you’re trying to tell can influence your lens choice – in fact most of your gear choices – but also composition posing, light setups, and even your color grade. He takes some time to dive into the theory, but also throw in some practical examples you can try at home. This combination of established theories, his own ideas, and some practical exercises will hopefully improve your photography and make you think differently about your photography planning process.

Normally JP teaches these photography workshops in person, but with everything that is going on due to Covid-19, he started recording the lessons and putting them out for free – “so people that might have been out taking photos can at least learn and practice some photography theory at home.” His workflow can be a bit unusual so the topics are also a little unusual, but hopefully you’ll find these as fun as engaging as I have.

JP Stones E1 warrior AztecMexica Warrior protecting princess.

This new video series explores how creating a narrative won’t just change the way people engage with your photos, but it will fundamentally change the way you _create_ photos. Because that narrative can also be used to guide decisions on posing, composition, lighting, and color.

“One photo can’t tell a layered, structured story. But… that doesn’t mean that your photo can’t be a powerful storytelling tool.”

JP STones 36Choreographed fight scene from Mexica Battle Cinematic photoshoot.

[Related Reading: 3 Visual Storytelling Techniques You Can Use to Create More Impactful Portraits | Meg Loeks]

The term ‘storytelling’ might have become a buzzword, but you shouldn’t dismiss the power of narrative photography. Building a story into your concept will not only change the way people engage with your photos. It will also fundamentally change your planning process – for the better – as the story you create will inform every creative decision you make. Check out the first two episodes below;

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Future episodes (which he’s already recorded) cover narrative composition, lighting to convey emotions, color to convey emotions, and a couple more.  You can find them on his website and IGTV channel. Until then, I hope you enjoy these and find some inspiration and motivation to create something epic over the next few weeks! Be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below.

*Content shared with permission