"A picture is worth a thousand words"… what a great quote! But if I had to change it, I would say: "A picture is worth a wonderful story."
Once you grasp that quote, you will fall in love with your photo-taking hobby in a way that you have never known! A great photo should tell a great story…or at the least be a ‘story starter.’ It should make you want to either tell the rest of the story or want to know the rest of the story…the happy ending, and the meaning of the life around you.
Some photos are just perfectly wonderful portraits of the people we love…all smiles and happy. I Love-Love-Love These:
And then there are some that give you a little more information and make you laugh! Boy, I remember this day! What a mess it was to clean baby powder up from all over the house! These twins of mine keep me on my toes, and it started early as you can see here. This one of the boys’ room sure prompts me to tell a story! Can you see Evan in this picture? His brother buried him that day in his room!
Then there are the ones that create emotion, you can actually feel the feelings that the people in the photo may be feeling, They leave you wanting to know more. These are just priceless to me. In the photo below, it looks like the coach is telling the player something really important, perhaps the secret to baseball that every little boy wants to know! Don’t you want to know what he is saying? This photo has a high Storytelling Quality!
Here is another great storytelling shot:
Can’t you just feel the love here? I believe that the best photos are not just the best exposures, they are so much more than that….they are the ones that have the extra intangible feature that can’t really be explained. It is the feeling you get when you open an unexpected gift that you love. It brings up good emotions and makes us feel something. This is wonderful when this happens with a photo. I call it the Photo ‘SQ": the Storytelling Quality. (kind of like IQ!) I mentally assign an SQ value when I am putting my albums together. I know that I can’t possibly put every photo in my album, so the ones with the highest SQ make the cut.
How do you know you have a storytelling shot? They are your favorites. Your favorite photos are easy to pick out because they are the ones that make you laugh or maybe even bring a tear to your eye. They may also prompt you to start telling the story behind the photo. Or, if you are looking at your friend’s photos, they make you want more details. You begin to wonder and ask questions in your head and you are impressed with something …the photo speaks to you.
Every man that sees this shot below feels the need to tell me stories of their BB gun days! It is so funny — this definitely has a high SQ!
It has a little higher SQ than the one below even though I love this one too:
Storytelling pictures are more than snapshots; they are a reflection of an emotion. They are so valuable because generally they are harder to get which makes them more rare. They take an awareness of a spontaneous moment and a ‘mom’s heart to spot those moments when they are happening. But when you get that shot, the feeling is wonderful and so worth the patience and effort it took!
Look through your lens in a new way: ask ‘what story am I trying to tell?’ and figure out how to do that in your photos. A good photo journalist has to learn how to tell a whole story with one photo. Move past the ‘what am I trying to document’ stage to ‘what do I want the viewer to feel’ or ‘what emotion do I want my photo to bring’. You will be amazed at what you come up with! Don’t worry so much about having your kids smile at the camera all the time; try to get the photo to tell a story instead.
Stories are happening all around you every day so get your camera out and start telling them….they will become your favorite ‘gifts’ to yourself and your family!