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Tips & Tricks

3 Magic Angles for Storytelling Photography

By Shivani Reddy on December 10th 2016

Wedding photographer Caroline Tran has made a name for herself in the wedding photography industry by capturing the story of her couples through her work. Our job is mainly comprised of telling a story in time, documenting it and narrating the lives of those involved, and Caroline has a bit of compositional advice that can help aide that method.

[REWIND: THE BUSINESS OF PHOTOGRAPHY | COMMIT TO CONSISTENCY]

She suggests shooting three different compositions to tell a very detailed story for your clients, first by starting wide and showing the entire scene, then coming in a bit closer to show more expression and detail, and then finally coming in tight to showcase emotion.

1. Scenic Wide landscape

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Once Caroline finds a perfect location to photograph her subjects in she challenges herself to choose three different angles to shoot from to provide variety without moving them from the scene. Similar to film and cinema, she starts wide by showing the entirety of the scene, their wardrobe. This is the shot that establishes the atmosphere, theme, and mood of the shoot by showing the location and subjects. We’ve discussed before the importance to photographing establishing shots like this–even without the subject in them,–to create a storytelling aspect for your shoot and later on for use in an album.

[REWIND: HOW TO DESIGN, STRUCTURE, & SHOOT TO TELL YOUR CLIENT’S STORY | FUNDY DESIGNER]

2. Medium Portrait

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Stepping in a bit closer and changing her focal length allows her to arrive at this medium portrait composition, pulling the subjects in tighter so that they take up a larger portion of the frame. She implements the same theory when photographing detail shots for wedding decor, starting wide to show the magnitude and then coming in closer shot by shot to show all the intricacies and how the elements interact together.

3. Emotional Close portrait

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Stories have multiple layers and it’s important to convey this through imagery when photographing a portraits. For her last angle she comes in even tighter so that the couple takes up the entire frame. This composition is meant to portray more of an emotional connection since we are so up-close and intimate with the subjects.

Although these images were taken in the same scene just within a span of a few minutes, the crops tell a different story when you move from image to image. She stresses the importance of ‘cropping with intention’ to include certain elements in a photo and suggests to avoid cropping at the joints and instead think to crop at slimming points of the body.

Learn more from Caroline here:

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Purchase Caroline’s full course ‘Light & Love’ now in the SLRL Store to learn how to create captivating storytelling imagery with the beautiful look & feel of timeless film.

Shivani wants to live in a world where laughter is the cure to pretty much everything. Since she can’t claim “Serial Bingewatcher” as an occupation, she’ll settle for wedding/portrait photographer at Lin and Jirsa & marketing coordinator here at SLR Lounge. For those rare moments when you won’t find a camera in her hand, she will be dancing, eating a donut, or most likely watching Seinfeld.

Follow her on Instagram: @shivalry_inc

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Norma DeLaGarza

    Great info! Thank you…

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  2. James O

    This is a great video, thanks for sharing. I’ll have to keep this in a mind.

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