Elements of Photography and Visual Storytelling


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Join NPR multimedia trainer, Kainaz Amaria, to learn about what makes a good photo and how to best use images to tell a story.

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  • So what do you think.What makes the storytelling strong in this scene.Aged old technique for strong visual storytelling.Little to no dialogue.Strong pacing.Great visuals. VARIETY.
  •  Order in chaosThere’s five images you need to tell a story – think of it as a framework. All visual journalist use these five shots They create pacing and movement – here they are:
  • A close up of something that furthers the understanding of the story.
  • a full-length view of a human subject is called a medium shot
  • a full-length view of a human subject is called a medium shot
  • a full-length view of a human subject is called a medium shot
  •  Order in chaos whether you are the photographer or the picture editor or both, think of these 5 visual shots as a framework.  They create pacing and movement – here they are:
  • approach every subject with the intention of getting this visual variety
  • Let’s translate video story telling techniques into journalistic still image.Talk about the perspective of the image, but also the content.Establishing image, crowds, day break, cold. Sense of place.
  • Establishing image, first picture people see, it’s the one that will egage the audience into the story. Here it’s JennierStepp who lives in Reading PA. Jennifer Stepp, 29, lives in Reading, Pa., and is raising three children by herself. Like 14 million other single mothers in America, she lives below the poverty line.
  • Once a thriving railroad hub and factory town in southeast Pennsylvania, Reading has a poverty rate of 41.3 percent and is labeled America's poorest city with a population of 65,000 or more.
  • Stepp hugs her daughter, Shyanne, at the Second Street Learning Center, where she is a head assistant teacher earning less than $9 an hour. The center provides 24-hour day care for Reading's working poor and is run by a nonprofit called the Opportunity House.
  • Along with raising three kids, Stepp works full time and takes evening classes at a local community college to earn an associate degree in early childhood education. Opportunity House also helps pay the rent on her family's apartment.
  • Opportunity House also supports Stepp's education and sometimes will subsidize her schooling expenses if she is running short on cash. "Being a head assistant, I can't go any further without some kind of degree," she says.
  • Stepp says her goal is to obtain an associate degree and then a bachelor's degree. She hopes to open a day care center of her own someday.
  • Stepp picks up her three children, (from left) Shyanne, 8; Isaiah, 10; and Makai, 1, at the 24-hour day care center after her classes are over around 9 p.m.
  • Shyanne (left) holds 1-year-old Makai, as Stepp checks to see if all of Shyanne's homework has been completed.
  • Stepp speaks to Isaiah before bedtime. "Sometimes I think I have done something wrong for them to turn their backs to me," she says of her failed relationships with her children's fathers. "But then there are other times that I'm in a good mood and think, 'Oh, well. Let them go. If they don't want to do it, I can do it. I can be the mother and father at the same time.' "
  • Break out into groups and do a picture editing exercise!
  • San Ysidro, California, 1979. Mexicans arrested while trying to cross the border to United States. Photograph: © Alex Webb/Magnum
  • Cowboys Branding Cattle, Montana Photograph by Sam Abell, National GeographicMontana cowboys brand and castrate their livestock—a familiar yearly ritual in cattle country.Annual branding  – Ken Rosman Ranch, Utica, Montana 1984 Sam Abell
  • Mother and Child at Car Window, Bombay by Steve McCurry
  • Take the reporters through Sam Sander’s take from the Aurora Memorial.
  • Aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject wouldWhere do you put the subject in the imageTypically people take photos the way they see the world --
  • Take the reporters through Sam Sander’s take from the Aurora Memorial.
  • Not shooting at high noon, shade is goodNatural light is always better than flashTake you through a shooting exercise – I’m the subject,
  • Show concrete example of how to get the moment!
  • Sometimes you don’t need what they’re doing, if it’s obvious
  • Often what you’re going to be taking with your feature stories, want to see the place and the placeSecond photos – better lighting, using the window to filter the light on to the subjects faceBut the background is pretty distracting
  • Often what you’re going to be taking with your feature stories, want to see the place and the placeSecond photos – better lighting, using the window to filter the light on to the subjects faceBut the background is pretty distracting
  • Couldn’t find anything in the office, so we went to the front of the building Still not close enough – typically that’s the
  • Soft in the face, focus on the eyesStill too much noise in the imageIt’s just a bad photo – the look on my face, etc.Very bright day, but in the shade
  • Portrait Exercise.
  • Elements of Photography and Visual Storytelling

    1. 1. Elements of Photography & Visual Storytelling October 2012Kainaz Amaria| Multimedia Trainer | 650-281-8843 | kamaria@npr.org
    2. 2. Our Photographic Journey• Foundations of visual storytelling• What makes a good image and why• How do you get that good image• Tips on how to make better portraits• Tips on how to approach visual decisions for your story 2
    3. 3. Close-up – A Detail Shot 3
    4. 4. Portrait 4
    5. 5. Medium 5
    6. 6. Action 6
    7. 7. Wide – Scene Setter 7
    8. 8. Five Foundations of Visual Storytelling1. Wide2. Medium3. Detail4. Portrait5. Action 8
    9. 9. Slideshow 9
    10. 10. Establishing Image 10
    11. 11. Sense of Place 11
    12. 12. Medium 12
    13. 13. Detail 13
    14. 14. Action/Transition 14
    15. 15. Action 15
    16. 16. Portrait 16
    17. 17. Portrait/Action 17
    18. 18. Medium 18
    19. 19. Six Ways to Make a Good Gallery Great1. Use a variety of image types to provide a sense of pacing (wide, medium, detail, portrait, action)2. Each picture should have a purpose3. Pictures shouldn’t be redundant4. Kill the puppies: Not every images is worth keeping5. Know what story you want to tell, plan accordingly6. The first image should draw your reader into the story. 19
    20. 20. Three Most Important Aspects Of An Image • Content • Composition • Light 20
    21. 21. 21
    22. 22. 22
    23. 23. 23
    24. 24. Content• Know your story• Focus on what it is you want to say• Position yourself to get the image• Make more than one or two images• Make images when people are doing something active 24
    25. 25. In The Field: Aurora Memorial Sam Sanders / NPR 25
    26. 26. Sam Sanders / NPR 26
    27. 27. Sam Sanders / NPR 27
    28. 28. Sam Sanders / NPR 28
    29. 29. Composition• Who/What is your focus• What is the best angle to communicate your vision• Look at the entire frame what are you including and more importantly excluding• Use your legs to move around the Jackie Northam/NPR situation 29
    30. 30. Rule of Thirds Divide an image into thirds, horizontally and vertically – where the lines intersect, place the subject of the photo David Gilkey/ NPR 30
    31. 31. Perspective Look at a scene from the perspective of the person in the story Kainaz Amaria / NPR 31
    32. 32. Leading Lines Leading lines help focus where your viewers eye goes in the frame Kainaz Amaria / NPR 32
    33. 33. Framing Use every opportunity to look through things David Gilkey / NPR 33
    34. 34. Light• Golden Hour – happens twice a day• Window light for when you are indoors• Try to make images outside as much as possible, unless it is high noon David Gilkey/NPR 34
    35. 35. Lighting – Hour of Day Matters Early morning and late afternoon are the best times photograph Keep the sun behind you, or to the side for nice contrast Kainaz Amaria / NPR 35
    36. 36. Lighting – Hour of Day Matters David Gilkey/NPR 36
    37. 37. Lighting – Hour of Day Matters David Gilkey/NPR 37
    38. 38. Caption Information Keep the 5 W’s in mind Make sure to get the correct spelling of names and where they are from If you aren’t sure what they are doing, or confused about a specific detail in the frame make sure to write that down 38
    39. 39. Good Captioning Practices Name Location What are they doing? Keep it short Add context 39
    40. 40. Practical Ways To Approach Visual Storytelling What is the best way to represent my story — single image, slideshow, audio slideshow, video, graphic What are my resources? • If I need one image then can I make that one my own? • If I need a slideshow can we hire a freelancer? • If it’s a news event can we rely on the wire services? Think of the visuals from the beginning of your reporting • Can I go when people are doing something? • Can I set aside enough time to make an image? 40
    41. 41. Three Things That Make a Better Portrait  Lighting (on face)  Focus  Background 41
    42. 42. Lighting – Portraits Try not to silhouette a subject Keep the light at your back Reposition a subject for better lighting Kainaz Amaria / NPR 42
    43. 43. Background – Remove the Clutter Remove distracting objects Look around the frame, reposition the camera Get closer Kainaz Amaria / NPR 43
    44. 44. Focus – Subject Must be Crisp Focus the camera on the subject, then take the picture Take your time Work it! 44
    45. 45. Lighting, Background, Focus Kainaz Amaria / NPR 45
    46. 46. Common Mistakes Objects protruding from the subject’s body Excessive flash Too far away Awkward expression 46
    47. 47. Editorial Relevance: What Image Best Fits the Story? Indias Power Woes A Classic Story Of Supply, Demand 47
    48. 48. What Image Best Fits the Story? Justice Scalia Disputes Accuracy Of Leak 48
    49. 49. What Image Best Fits the Story? How The Taliban Is Thwarting The War On Polio Jackie Northam / NPR 49
    50. 50. Images Go Everywhere 50
    51. 51. Photography is about relationships! Kainaz Amaria/NPR 51
    52. 52. Your Photography Assignment Submit three images that tell a story • Make sure each image is a different visual perspective (i.e. wide, medium, portrait, detail, action) • Make more than three images total • Go to a place where people are actively doing something • HAVE FUN! Caption each image and email them to dseditorial@npr.org Put your station call letters (ex: KUNC) in the subject line 52