Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Photos/Images That Tell Stories

A photo, or series of them, has the ability to convey stories
to those who view them...displaying emotion, mood, ideas and messages
which, together, are the elements of 'story-telling'.

Most newspaper photography fits into the category of 'story-telling'...something in the photo that grabs the attention of the viewer. Daily, during these Pan American Games, there is a full page of photos and often on the newspaper's front page. Various professional photographers have captured these images of participating athletes...and each one 'tells a story' illustrating agony, ecstasy, despair, elation, determination pushing the body to extreme limits, jubilation ~ from which we can learn.

A dramatic photo of 2 women competing in the 100 metre hurdles. Facing the photographer, he writes of his photo, “With all the determination she could muster, Canada's Jessica Zelinka, left, races the last few metres to the finish line ahead of Breanna Leslie of the United States, to win their heat in the women's heptathlon 100-metre hurdles Friday at York University.

Jason Pryor of the United States positions himself to engage his opponent as his U.S. Team fences with Mexico in the men's epee team quarter-finals. (In this photo, Jason is ready to attack).

Mexico's Samantha Salas is reflected on a wall, as she returns a shot to Argentina's Veronique Guillemette and Maria Vargas during the women's racquetball doubles gold medal match.

Vanessa Spinola, of Brazil, celebrates after coming in third in her heat in the women's heptathlon 110-metre hurdles. Photographer captures her with big smile and right arm raised with upward thumb! And a despondent loser in the background...both showing emotions of the' race heat.'

Alfredo Sepulveda, left, of Chile, runs around Javere Bell, centre, of Jamaica and Joel Mejia, of the Dominican Republic, after Mejia fell while handing off the baton during the semifinals of the men's 4x400 metre relay. An action photo showing the fallen Mejia, and competitors running around him.

Photographer is facing 6 men hurdlers as they hustle through 9 hurdles prior to the run to the finish line. American David Oliver, second from right, leads the runners in the 110 metre hurdles final, with Canada's Johnathan Cabral, right, on his heels. Oliver won the gold medal in this event.

Trinidad and Tobago's Elton Walcott looks for a big finish in the triple jump final. A most dramatic photo showing the side view of the jumper air-borne with arms extended into the air before landing in the sand; a judge stands behind a huge measuring board showing lengths of 14, 15, 16, and 17 (with the quarter and half markings between each numeral). The viewing stands are full of people.

A small picture of interest really captured my attention, taken by The Canadian Press: Up close we view a girl sitting with back to photographer...wearing a sleeveless white shirt and Maple Leaf cap on head with peak at the back over long brunette hair as she watches Ryan Dodd of Canada, jumping his way to winning the gold medal in men's jump water ski. The girl is the focus of the photo as ski jumper is a small silhouette in the distance ~ his leap above the water with only sky as his background.

Yes, I agree, the photographers had ideal opportunities; yet in their imagination, had to create an image that 'told a story'...the secret to good photos. Being in the right place at the right a bonus! It's advised to shoot 3 to 5 different pics of the same subject to ensure correct composition and lighting. Once in a blue moon, a photographer gets lucky!

You and I can create pictures of interest with 'everyday situations'. Consider the following: A back view of a cowboy and other cowboys on a dusty trail herding cattle...a line of businessmen with brief case in hand at a shoe-shining place while boys astride boxes with their supplies are busily at old car abandoned in an open field, rusty in nature, with weeds growing up around it...a young woman in evening dress walking away from the photographer, while she treacherously walks (in high heels) a curving rail on a railway track,'

Pictures should be more than 'just records of the moment'!
They should tell stories...making you want to keep looking into the picture.
Most take pictures for personal reasons: e.g. “me in front of'” or
Yes, we saw the Eiffel it is!”

Solutions? Create the picture to “SPEAK' of the lieu of just a quickly snapped photo!Have an Idea! Make a mental story! Consider the surroundings! Be aware of the colours that will saturate your photo! Composition and Lighting are the main technical ingredients!

A few story ideas in everyday situations:
Small child kisses Grandpa who displays a loving smile while Grandma stands in the background.
A child takes a Big Breath (open mouth and big eyes) before blowing out her 6 birthday candles.
Egyptian pyramids on the desert floor, leading the eyes into the 3D aspect of the travel photo.
Friends, young boy and girl, sit together on porch step, sharing lunch sandwiches and juice.
A father ties his son's tie as the boy looks down observing as his father intricately 'ties'...father's face shows concentration and adoration in this ordinary act.

Envision a Few Final Colour Photos in Today's Spectator
that “Walk the Talk” with a story-line:
A big blur of water splash that almost hides the swimmer...a spray of kicked-up-dirt that shrouds the long-jumper...the jubilation of a team member jumping into the arms of another...the perfect silhouette of two Canadian synchronized women divers...the whir of wheels of Team Canada's track-cycling's 'Women in Pursuit'...a long horizontal photo of supreme symmetry has Big Impact (a late evening sky of blue with traces of pink, the foreground an extensive line of competing soccer teams set in front of 2015 Toronto banners and our soccer stadium at full capacity; the night lights beam their evening rays.

And this last one is my favourite with the following caption:
Felipe Miranda, of Chile, had some crazy memories of the water-ski competition as he threads a pair of geese in Toronto's Lake Ontario.” Felipe is centred in the photo on an angular lean as he skis the rippling water while a Canada Goose on each side, disrupted from their domain, fly hastily from this sudden invasion of their solitude.

THINK before you Speak! to avoid the er's, ah's and um's.
THINK before you Write! be clear ( to avoid misunderstanding).
THINK before you Shoot (photos)! compose a mental story.
Advice I've learned to follow!

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 27, 2015.
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