Once Upon A Time In A Photography Studio Far, Far Away …

Don’t you just love a good story?

When you read a great story, it has to have certain things in place.

A great beginning, middle and end. If any of those pieces drag on, aren’t well thought out, or are left to chance, you end up wanting more. It may be an “okay” story, but it will never be great.

Conflict and resolution. There is always something in the story that the main character has to deal with or fight off. Even in a great Disney movie for kids, there will always be a reason the main character has to look within to discover more about him or herself.

A lot of detail. This is Alex. Alex was a recent high school graduate, looking forward to a bright future. Both of these sentences introduce you to Alex. But one begins painting a much more detailed picture. You can start to see who Alex is. You know how old he is and potentially the direction he is heading in life.

As human beings, we care about the story. No one exists in life without a story. That’s why you see stories wherever you go.

Think about the Olympics. Michael Phelps is a household name because they tell his story over and over again. In his third Olympic run, he beat the long time record of total medals held when he swam to his 22nd win. We all rooted for him because we knew his story, have watched him win time after time, and are right there with him as the announcers scream in excitement as he touched the side.

Think about what you read or watch every day. If you have a favorite show, it’s because you are into the story. The Voice, for example, allows us a peek into every day lives of people trying to find that one lucky break. Before every one of the contestants gets up on stage to sing, we spend a few moments learning about who they really are. They grew up bullied. They were different in high school. They’ve been singing in small town bars for years looking for the “big break”. Their mom’s died of cancer. They spent their last dime on a plane ticket for this audition. Whatever the story, you are pulled in and are right there with them, rooting them on and hoping they do well.

It’s because that’s how we are wired. That’s how humans make connections and move around in this world. [Read more…]

Hey Photographer – Are You A Storyteller?

One of the things that set us apart from other photographers early on was our storytelling. We didn’t believe photography was all we had to offer. Instead, we chose to take it to a different level and offer storytelling through our albums. We regularly sold three to five albums to our clients, so I guess they loved it as well.

Storytelling involves many things. It involves thinking ahead of time about what you want to capture. It involves understanding what will happen and being there ready and in position before it does. It also involves being ready for the unexpected as well.

Dig Deeper: 7 Tips For Visual Storytelling

I ran across a great series of videos today by Ira Glass who hosts This American Life on Public Radio. He has a series of four videos in which he goes over his ideas on what it takes to be a storyteller – all are good and worth listening to.

But it’s a compilation video that really caught my eye. The way its written can be an inspiration to any creative artist. It may be just what you need as you begin planning for a New Year.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Is it the camera or the photographer?

What makes a great photographer? Is it the camera and lenses they use? Or is it the photographer?

That was the question of the hour yesterday as Andrew and I poured over a selection of images we had recently taken.

The next time you’re out with friends that aren’t photographers, watch how they look at things around them. Do they notice the flowers surrounding the cafe patio? Do they notice the bird soaring in the sky? Do they notice the signs along camera lensthe way?

As a photographer – especially coming from a photojournalistic style of  photography – we see things in storyline fashion. We’re constantly looking for ways to tell the story with our photographs – and we pick up on ways to show that with each picture.

We focus on macro results, so the eye naturally picks up on what we focus on.

We show things in detail and put several images together to show the whole picture.

We use perspective to make a photograph better.

That comes from the education of being a professional photographer. It doesn’t come with the camera. I can get a great image from a point-and-shoot simply because I understand perspective and what to look for.

Of course the better the lens, the more I can get.  But ultimately comes down to the photographer.

What do you think?