Every Picture Tells a Story
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Every Picture Tells a Story

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Every photograph is a visual narrative. Good composition tells that story well. In order to improve your composition apply storytelling techniques.

Every photograph is a visual narrative. Good composition tells that story well. In order to improve your composition apply storytelling techniques.

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  • I. Who am I?\nII. Talking about photography\n
  • Good composition is the same as good storytelling. You are just telling the story visually instead of narratively.\n
  • The technical skill necessary to master storytelling in photography may be different from writing (most of the time) but good storytelling is good storytelling. Both forms are an expression of craftsmanship and the mastery of tools. Both take time and deliberation to achieve mastery. Composition is an expression of visual mastery.\n
  • I. These days it’s easy to rely on technology as a crutch\nII.Technology can enhance your ability to create what’s in your mind’s eye - what you visualize - or it can interfere with the core of what you’re trying to do, which is storytelling.\nIII. The irony here is that this one of the least-post-processed images I’ve ever done (and has been a bestseller) and yet it has a very “tech” feel\n
  • I. This picture could have been better if I had slowed down to contemplate it.\nII. There is a story here but it is flawed because the symmetry is slightly off. It’s a little like an out-of-tune note in musical piece. The story here is symmetry but the story is discordant to me because it is slightly off. Symmetry is very demanding because you notice when it’s messed up.\n
  • I. Good artists copy - great artists steal.\nII. One way to perfect your art is to imitate photography you like. It’s a lot harder than it seems compositionally but a lot easier technically than it used to be.\nIII. This is one way to practice and get in your 10,000 hours - Gladwell\n
  • Yes and No. You can do composition wrong but there is no “right’ way to do it. Rules should not get in the way of good storytelling.\n
  • Symmetry vs. Asymmetry, tonal range, color combinations, depth-of-field, shutter-speed, and balance between sky and subject are all narrative decisions. It is only when you understand these elements that you can start to use them to your advantage - to play with them conceptually.\n\n
  • I. Get a 35 or 50 and shoot with it. Simplify your approach.\nII. Each lens you own changes your compositional framework.\nIII. Get to know your lenses well - car analogy - zoom lenses can create information overload and lead to sloppy composition\nIV. Treat each lens as a new project for your brain\nV. Gear is not a substitute for storytelling.\n
  • I. A good storyteller knows where he or she is going from the beginning and uses appropriate tools to get there\nII. Fundamental questions should be answered up front.\nIII. Adams - film is the score, print is the performance - still applies\n
  • Black-and-white is a different narrative choice than color. It will tell a different story. You have to understand what that story is going to be.\n
  • I. Start simple. Look for basic shapes and forms.\n
  • I. Play with minimalism. Look for juxtapositions of colors and shapes.\nII. There is also a power to great simplicity in storytelling\n
  • I. The lines in this picture pull you into the castle\n
  • Same principle here as in the previous shot. There are strong lines here but they are balanced out by the visual confusion of the individual panes of glass.\n
  • Once you’ve mastered the basics of shapes and forms, don’t forget the impact of light and texture on your storytelling. This image would not work with a light sky. [Find original and show what it looked like.] I also loved the texture on the bricks and so black-and-white was my choice here.\n
  • Once you’ve mastered the basics of shapes and forms, don’t forget the impact of light and texture on your storytelling. This image would not work with a light sky. [Find original and show what it looked like.] I also loved the texture on the bricks and so black-and-white was my choice here.\n
  • Color adds a new level of complexity to your storytelling but composition can still lead you to appreciate the color.\n
  • All of the elements in your composition should balance out. Here, subtle color still allows for plenty of attention for the texture the sky and the river, especially. Strong color would probably unbalance this shot.\n
  • I. Ansel Adams was the consummate post-processor - he just didn’t have our tools\nII. If I had left the sky as light as it was in the original image it would have been unbalanced\nIII. Again, here, as in the last image subtle color was used to accentuate the texture\n
  • I. Once you have the basics down, get funky.\nII. Try unusual camera angles.\n
  • I. When shooting outside, you have to slow down and let the scene develop.\nII. Learn to watch the world around you. Become a student of the light.\n
  • I. Nature will always surprise you. That’s one of the things that drives my outside landscape and architecture photography.\n
  • I. This image took over a year to make. The lighting in the first year was not what I wanted but I came back for it.\nII. Know your area - especially for outside photography. Think about how the light changes throughout the year - plan your shots well ahead of time.\n
  • I. Practice your visual storytelling\nII. Know the limits of your tools and train your vision to recognize opportunities.\nII. Find one or two things to really specialize in. Unless you have lots of time, getting good at everything is very difficult. There is a reason I don’t do portraiture.\n
  • \n

Every Picture Tells a Story Every Picture Tells a Story Presentation Transcript

  • “The serious artist is the only person able to encounter Technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception.” - Marshall McLuhanImage © 2010 Alex SuarezEvery PictureTells a StoryNarrative and Composition in Effective Photography
  • Composition is an exercise in Visual StorytellingWhat Story Does Your image Tell?
  • “I have often thought that if Photography were Difficult in the true sense of the term - meaning that the creation of a simple photograph would entail asmuch time and effort as the production of a good watercolor or etching - therewould be a vast improvement in total output. the sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster” - Ansel Adams
  • Don’t Let Technology Interfere with your storytelling“The boon of digitalphotography is that thephotographer has completecontrol of the image, and thebane of digital photography isthat the photographer hascomplete control of theimage. What seems to beoccurring is that the poetswithin us - the poets whostarted this tidal wave ofrevolution - are becomingimprisoned by thetechnology” - Vincent Versace
  • Speed Kills GoodPhotography Good Storytelling is hard - Technology makes Capturing the Image a lot easier but The art is in the storytelling
  • Ansel Adams “Yosemite, Summer” (1935) Tom Haymes, “Classic Valley” (2009) It’s okay to learn from great storytellers “Pictures, regardless of how they are created and recreated, are intended to be looked at. this brings to the forefront not the technology of imaging, which is of course important, but rather what we might call the Eyenology (Seeing)” - Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • Are there Rules to Composition?
  • know thelanguage of your medium
  • Master your storytellingtools and keep them simple -Tools are but a means to an end “Photography has not changed sinceits origin except in its technicalaspects, which for me are not important” Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • pre-visualize whatyou are going to do Black-and-white vs. colorshould not be an afterthought
  • The Choice of Black-and-white vs. color is a narrative choice The absence of color in black-and- white emphasizes shapes,textures, andtonal ranges
  • Getting Started:Understanding visual storytelling Work with Basic shapes
  • Understanding visual storytelling Add basic colors to basic shapes - minimalism is a good compositional exercise
  • Understanding visual storytelling Think about strong lines that lead you into the picture
  • Understandingvisual storytellingOr that Pull You Down into thepicture
  • Adding Another Element:Storytelling with light and textureLight and texture impact composition and should inform your pre-visualization
  • Adding Another Element:Storytelling with light and textureLight and texture impact composition and should inform your pre-visualization
  • Adding Another Element: color as a storytelling toolColor is another aspect of texture and light but it adds a level of complexity that must be balanced compositionally
  • Adding Another Element: color as a storytelling tool Using color Intensity as balancerlike black-and-white subtle color can enhance texture
  • Use Technology toenhance your storytellingAppropriate use of post-processing can enhance your storytelling
  • Don’t constrain yourselfI don’t believe in arbitrary compositional rules - especially if they interfere with the story i’m trying to tell
  • Uncontrollable elements:Fortune favors the prepared
  • Uncontrollable elements:The world will reward your patience - eventually
  • Uncontrollable elements: Sometimes You don’t get it the first time -take advantage of second chances
  • Find your Passion - and Get Good at It“In my mind’s eye, I visualize how a particular... sight and feeling will appear on print. if it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. it is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.” - Ansel Adams
  • Where to Find Me:www.haymesimages.comwww.flickr.com/photos/tomhaymesE-Mail: tom@haymesimages.comPhone: 281-748-3684This Presentation is at:www.slideshare.net/haymest