Photography Tips; Visual Storytelling

“Visual storytelling; Great composition captures imaginations”

Storytelling is of paramount importance to travel website publishers, it’s relevance cannot be over emphasised, the means by which the writer inspires the reader. Weaving a compelling narrative, which draws the reader in, writing descriptively to transport them to the destination, is the aim of every storyteller. Great composition captures imaginations.

Visual storytelling; Three Cuban ladies in Old Havana on the Caribbean island of Cuba on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-164A havana_cuba

A dull day in Havana

However, visual storytelling is equally important, creating captivating images, which grab the viewer by the scruff, and compel them to read the carefully crafted prose could arguably be even more essential. In the arena of online publishing, well captured images are the bait, which turn ‘bouncers’ into readers; in the case of website photography, great composition captures readers.

Monk at the Conques Abbey near Villefranche de Rouergue in the Aveyron region of the South of France on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_Ave1403569 monk

Monk on the march

The first image is especially important, this is the initial connection the visitor makes with the post, and possibly the site. First impressions count, there may only be one opportunity to stop the reader in their tracks, compelling them to view the remaining images, and eventually read the post. First impressions also last, so if the image fails to inspire the viewer, it’s possible they maybe lost forever. Therefore, it’s essential that the post opens with a captivating image.

Fishermen coming ashore at Muscat, the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-CR1404618 muscat_oman

Boatmen coming ashore in Muscat

Of course, all photographs should be of equally high quality, it’s unlikely one good image will hold the potential reader for long. A single picture illustrating the article, and short narrative is a possible exception. Another worthwhile tip, is to make sure the last image is special too; those lasting impressions, turn readers into returnees.

“memories in digital form”

Capturing images that tell stories should be the aim of every traveller. They are memories in digital form, and can instantly transport the photographer to the time, and place they were taken. Sharing them with friends, and family is also important, having an interesting series of images which allow them to experience a little of the destination is desirable for us all. A series of beautiful images can become boring if they aren’t interesting, lack strong compositions, and fail to tell a story.

Playful spaniel on the River Goyt, in Brabyn Park near Marple, Cheshire in England on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_Canal1401955 spaniel

Playful spaniel down by the river

Each photograph should tell a tale in it’s own right, and together provide an overall flavour of the destination, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle. This means developing a portfolio for the destination, or post, choosing a variety of images which provide the viewer with a feel for the place.

The markets of Villefrance-de-Rouergue in Place Notre Dame in the Aveyron region of France on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_Ave1403299 place_de_notre dame

What’s happening down there?

Visual storytelling; Cuban classic car in Old Havana on the Caribbean island of Cuba on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-6BW havana_cuba

A Cuban classic

Images capture a moment in time, instantaneously freezing the scene the moment the shutter closes. Photographers often know immediately whether they have captured something special. This is just defined as being technically perfect, it’s more important that the image has meaning, portraying a story.

Travel photographers need a high level of competency in most formats; landscapes, portraiture, wildlife, architecture, and details. They need to understand their camera, how to make the most of the available ambient light, when light needs adding, how to focus, and how depth of field will affect the overall image. The camera is a tool, it needs setting up ready for the anticipated subject, this will vary depending on the circumstances.

Dates drying in the sun, the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-CR1405567 nizwa_oman

Sun dried dates

Exploring a city, where capturing a busy street scene is the most likely scenario, is entirely different from strolling along a deserted beach at sunset, and the camera needs setting up appropriately. This is about anticipation, and will provide the best chance of obtaining an acceptable capture.

“An imperfect image is preferable to none at all!”

Visual storytelling; A date picker drying his harvest in the sun, the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-CR1405570 nizwa_oman

Caring for his harvest

However, photography is not an exact science, it’s a creative art, filled with paradoxes. Having a well composed image is preferable to a technically perfect empty scene. Any photographer needs to capture the scene as it happens. Get an image or images, and then if time permits adjust the camera settings to achieve a technically correct capture. An imperfect image is preferable to none at all!

Travellers with cameras should be observant, and curious. They explore that back street which seems to lead nowhere, search around the next corner, follow the sounds or aromas of the city. This is how inspiring images are found, discovering something of interest, that other visitors may miss. Once a suitable subject is found, and the first capture is made, take another from a different angle, in fact take several from multiple perspectives. Try and see it in another way, providing your readers with an alternative view.

Look for interesting scenes on the street, talk to people, really talk, seem confident, and put them at ease, before springing the can I take your picture biggie. A smile often disarms the reluctant, and can break down language barriers. People embody the culture of any destination, without them a piece of the jigsaw puzzle will be missing, the story will be incomplete.

Include pictures of buildings, architecture can be fascinating, but look for unusual angles, and seek out the details, door knobs, shutters, window, or hanging planters. Reflections in buildings, lakes, ponds, or even puddles are often artistic, colourful, and appealing.

Two local men enjoying a chat in Tortuguera village, in the National Park, Costa Rica in Central America on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_CR1404172 costa_rica

There’s always time to chat

Being creative can add greatly to the story, but should possibly be tempered, becoming too abstract can confuse the story. However, there aren’t any rules which must be slavishly followed, how an individual expresses themselves is the essence of creativity.

Although the photographer had a particular vision they are trying to portray in their capture, every viewer will perceive it differently. They may see the story being told, but they may interpret it in a slightly different way. The photographer shouldn’t take this personally, or feel insulted, but appreciate that a good story has many plots, and possible endings, which can be interpreted in several ways.

A photograph should cause the viewer to reflect on what the story is, sometimes it may be obvious, but at other times they will need to use some imagination.

Visual storytelling; Cuban cyclist after a storm in Trinidad on the Caribbean island of Cuba on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-3-1 trinidad_cuba

After the storm in Trinidad

“Great images evokes emotion”

Think of some of the most evocative images taken, they all have a story, a strong composition which draws the viewer in. The eye needs leading around the image, but eventually should fall on the subject, the background adds to the topic, it doesn’t detract from it. Great images evoke emotion, happy, sad, angry, empathy, desire, they inspire, it’s impossible to look at a great capture, and not feel any emotion, that is the essence of photography.

Omani women shopping in the souk at Muttrah, Muscat, the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-CR1404892 muscat_oman

Incense in the souk at Muttrah

A banana boat in Tortuguera village, in the National Park, Costa Rica in Central America on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_CR1404169 costa_rica

Arrived on a banana boat

By definition, inspiring photography causes us to think, provoking reflection, and discussion. A picture may say a thousand words, but a good image can inspire a conversation of many thousands of words.

Review every capture carefully, be critical, how could it be improved, what is lacking, does it tell a story? Visual storytelling does not need great photography, but it does need evocative imagery.

Photography is a tool to enable the traveller to express themselves, make the most of a full toolbox, and become a visual storyteller, captivating with well told tales.

Visual storytelling; Colourful pottery in the souk at Nizwa, in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-CR1405408 nizwa_oman

Colourful pottery in Nizwa

1

Comments 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *