I’m a story-teller, not a photographer

O.k so it begins, the difficult first blog. After much planning, collecting content and agonising over what I could/should/would write about, I find myself reflecting on how starting a blog isn’t so different to how I tell a story with images.

Fundamentally, this is how I approach all my shots. For me the only way a picture works is if it tells the viewer about the story in the picture. Being a story teller is more important to a successful picture than the camera you’re using, the aperture you set your lens to, or the fancy lighting kit you’ve brought with you. If your images don’t hold the viewers attention, if it doesn’t illicite the desired response, or answers questions about the service, then maybe its time to re-think the purpose of the image.

When I first sit down with a client, one of the most important factors is: what does their business needs to say about itself? This is fundamental to its marketing success, eg. if its an education establishment looking to promote to parents, what grounds does it want to compete on? It may be to do with highlighting a relaxed learning environment, a new specialist learning resource or superb teacher/student relationships. But it must be something unique to them, something they need to shout about. For the construction sector, it may be that company ‘x’ wants to promote safe working to its investors and this would run as an undercurrent through the whole photo-shoot. Every setup we’d ask, does this image tell the clients story? and if it doesn’t we keep working till the scene fits the story perfectly.

Over the many years of being a professional story teller, I instinctively can feel when all the elements are coming together and those who have worked or assisted with me know I speak of ‘feeling the love’. When the composition, lighting, scene and story come together, it’s a pretty amazing feeling, a real buzz, a true moment to capture. Some shoots it’ll happen in a rush and they naturally feel right, but other shoots you have to work hard to craft the look and more importantly make it feel right in camera.

It takes experience to get a feel for this ‘in-camera’, but if I had to give you one tip for when you’re not ‘feeling the love’ it would be : step back and look hard at your composition. Most faults about story telling stem from incorrect composition or positioning, get that right and you’ll make your viewer feel the love with you.