How To Approach Storytelling Through Photography
I went for a photography walk in my favourite location (Marlay Park and Demesne, Dublin) on a bright frosty morning in early February.
The sky was clear blue with no dramatic clouds and as I walked along I began to wonder if my belief that there is always something interesting to shoot in this location might in fact be wishful thinking.
Then a few minutes later I turned a corner and saw Laurelmere Cottage.
I thought of a loose plan I had to do storytelling through photography and decided that this would be a perfect subject.
Laurelmere Cottage is located in the heart of Marlay Park in South County Dublin. It is the last surviving gate lodge on the 247 acre Marlay Demense which, after lying unoccupied since the mid-1970s, has recently been restored.
The house was originally built in the 18th century as a thatched cottage for the La Touche family, the original owners of Marlay House, an 18th century Georgian house on Marley estate.
The cottage was in use by subsequent owners until it was acquired by Dublin County Council in 1972.
Abandoned for years, Laurelmere was restored by the council in 2014 for the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland.
How do I tell the story of Laurelmere through photography?
Put simply, storytelling in photography refers to the creation of a series of photographs about a specific place, event or people.
Storytelling through photography helps you to think about more than capturing one photo in isolation; it encourages you to form the story in your mind as you are making the images and to think of the story behind the images.
One of my first attempts at storytelling through photography was at a triathlon event in a small coastal village in the west of Ireland. On that occasion I took several photos that I thought would reveal the main story to the viewer, but I didn’t really use a plan.
Recently I have done some research to find out if there are accepted guidelines for storytelling through photography.
As in all aspects of photography, these are not rules but guidance on how to make images, or a series of images, more appealing to the viewer, so it is worth my while to pay attention to them.
An approach to storytelling through photography
There are three main types of shot necessary to establish a good series of photos.
1. Establishing Shot
Firstly, you need a subject, then you take an establishing shot. This is usually a wide-angle shot showing the subject in the context of its environment. Usually, one establishing shot is all that you need.
I chose this shot as my establishing shot. It shows the front of Laurelmere Cottage set within its surroundings.
2. Telling the story shots
The second style of shot tells the story of the scene, filling the frame with your subject. These are often medium angle shots with a simple composition. Some of the photos may give additional aspects that contribute to the overall story. Two or three of these types of shots are the norm.
These shots show some of the features of the cottage.
3. Close-up shots
These shots show close-up details of the subject to give a fuller picture to the viewer.
Loved by birds
Home to many species of trees and plants
While it is possible to tell a story using just one image, storytelling through using a series of images has several advantages.
It allows you to bring a place or scene to the attention of the viewer by using
carefully chosen images.
It helps you to think beyond just capturing single images.
It adds interest to your photography.
By using five or seven images based on the headings above you can create a compelling story that will capture the interest of your viewers.
If you are interested in telling a story through your photography you might like to read these posts.
How Storytelling Can Change Your Photography
Why I Decided to Try a Street Photography Mini Project