10 TIPS -VISUAL STORY TELLING WITH YOUR IMAGES.

So, you have been taking photos either professionally or just as a hobby. You probably already understand lighting, composition and all the technical stuff. But how do you get your images to stand out? To tell a story, to make someone pose and view them for a few seconds in a sea of billions of images?


Moment frozen in time: Beach Proposal.

As a lifestyle, documentary and sports photographer, most of my work involves story telling, and what better way to tell stories than using photography? after all, “a photo is worth a thousand words”.
An image should be utterly infectious to the viewer. As Leo Tolstoy said, “it should be utterly infectious, where it infects the viewer with the feelings he or she has lived through, so that other people are infected in turn by these experiences.
 If you can draw viewers into your frame and make them think deeper, and try to read the story you are telling, then you are on the right track.
Today am sharing 10 tips accompanied with my images that would help you in story telling, wherever you are in the world.
1. The Magic is in the details.
Lets say you are just from an amazing trip and you are telling a young boy about something he has never seen before and you would like him to picture the scenes as you saw them, vivid description would be key, right?
Well, in photography, visual story telling involves including the small details in the scene and using them to at more flesh and layers to your images.

2. Plan ahead, or fail.
Planning is an essential part of the process for visual storytelling. The documentary photographer Kaushik Ghosh, once said: “What your mind does not know, your eyes can’t see.” This is probably most important when planning your photo essay. You must plan well ahead to visualise the story. Taking these steps beforehand will give the structure you need for your narrative.
Select a topic, research on it, plan the shots. If possible, do a pre-visit. Best way to shoot a photo-story is to stay there longer and shoot chronologically as things happen. 
So, you have to know when and how to capture. If it is in sports photography, you have to understand the sport, and know where to position yourself and when to take photos.

3. Be Original, Don’t chase images.
With a huge number of images created every day, originality in photography seems to be becoming secondary for some photographers. And with apps like Pinterest and with the power of Google, we can easily find inspiration from images that have been done before. 
However, what would make your images stand out from the rest is how unique it is, something that has not been done before; may be from a different angle, a different time or a different subject. Don’t go to Paris to shoot Eiffel tower the way you saw it in a post card, try giving us a different view, your own masterpiece. 

4. Capture Emotions.
Well, with emotions, we are definitely relating to life, animals and most importantly, human beings. To capture emotions, we focus more on the faces and body language. What do the emotions tell us: Joy, Happiness, excitement, pain, horror, love and more. 
Your Images should tell us all this. Here is a quote for this;  “The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” – Elliott Erwitt

5. Never forget about Composition and Lighting.
These two are the main pillars of taking a good photo. They are all too easy to fall out of touch with, especially when you’re starting out. Focus too much on adding storytelling elements and you may well start paying less attention to composition and lighting. 
Now that you know it’s a possibility, you’ll be better armed to make sure it doesn’t happen. A friend of mine, Simon Chege from Lines Photography, always says ” Get it Right on Camera”. I can’t put it in any better way.
The image below: Fomo Party 2017. The classic Man, Jidenna performing at Carnivore, Nairobi. 

6. Envision a story.
Wherever you are, stories are all around us, one just has to look with eyes wide open. Start from your everyday life: each of your family members has a story, your friends may share a few, even an old cooking pot has something to tell. 
Most importantly, the topic has to inspire you as a photographer, you are the architect. Think of the message you want to convey, and it will give you the direction to work in. Then tell the story, mostly in a chronological order.


7. Be ready to shoot & Trigger happy.
One way to get it right especially in wedding, concerts and sports photography is to always have your finger on the shutter button and take continuous shots. This narrows down the possibility of you missing out on that important shot, and the advantage is you can also use the series of shots to tell a story.
Ever watched a football match during a corner kick? The moment the ball leaves the foot of the player hitting the corner, you will hear camera shutters clicking till the balls hits the net or goes out of the box. That way, sports photographers are assured at least one good photo of the moment incase something interesting happens.

8. Get into the scene; Interact with your subjects.
When most photographers start their journey, they are usually obsessed with the big zoom lenses they don’t have and believe that the moment they land their hands on one, all of their problems are sorted. Well, if you are one of them, am sorry to disappoint you. Its not about the gear but more about you as a person and how you interact with and interpret what you are shooting.
Unless shooting wildlife and sports, of which it’s insane to get close to your subjects physically, I would prefer you use Prime lenses. For what they lack in zoom, they are known to reciprocate in sharpness and Low light performance. My favourite lens is a 50mm lens
It is a mid range Prime lens giving you close to a human eye view. What I like about it is the fact that it allows you to get into the scene and shoot closer. It is my favourite lens for street and people documentary photography. 
An advantage of getting into the scene is the fact that you interact with the environment you are shooting and get to feel the ambiance and emotions. Trust you me, this plays a big impact on the images you will get because its not just about what you see but also about what you hear and feel.


9. Be patient and Go Candid.
“Telling a story is about letting a moment unfold. As the photographer, it’s important to have patience. Pause and wait for the magical pose, expression, or moment to happen. Be the fly on the wall, have your camera handy, and be ready to snap at any time.” Beryl Ayn Young 




10. Have fun while shooting.
It is never that serious, even under high pressure, learn to enjoy photography, have fun while at it, don’t be scared of critics or those who are better than you at the moment. Someone once said that the difference between Here and There is the letter “T”, which stands for Time, you will get there. I am better than I was 1 year ago. 
Even when it is past your working hours, go out there, take a stroll down the streets and continue shooting, most of the times while on assignment, especially documentary photography, my best photos are those that I took during my free time. 

That’s all I have for today, hope it was informative. Have you learnt something? Or do you have more tips? please drop them at the comments section below, I would like to learn from you too. Share with your friends too.



Article and Images by Billy Miaron



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Wacera Kieha

Wacera Kieha is a Lifestyle Content Creator based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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