Cultivating Vision: Storytelling through Images

Ahead of me, lemon rays carved their way across the desert floor. I waited.

Shadows shifted and were snagged by ocotillo thorns. I waited.

A breeze swirled across the sky as the sun sank below the horizon. Almost there.

The lemon light shifted to honey and poured itself over the gilded desert. Perfect.

I lifted my camera. Holding it to my eyes, I whispered “Tell me a story.”

photo credit: me
photo credit: me

You could be forgiven for thinking that the first thing you would have to learn about photography is the mechanics: knobs and buttons, shutter speed and aperture. But that is not true. In photography, as in writing or painting, or any other artistic endeavor, technique must serve vision. You have to know how to tell a story.

photo credit: me
photo credit: me

With writing, I have become used to choosing words carefully, laying each one down to form a careful path. In photography there are no words, just scenes that could be happy or sad, nostalgic or exuberant. You convey mood with shadows and light, angles and zoom.

Cultivating Vision V

Photo credit: me

When you are taking a portrait, for example, study how your subjects betray their characters. Watch how she looks at a paintbrush as though she is falling in love. Notice how his clothes are bedraggled but he caresses a shiny pocket watch as though it is a talisman. And then set up the scene so that those hidden pieces are brought to life and celebrated.

photo credit: me
photo credit: me

Photo credit: me

Sometimes, when writing a scene, I like to imagine I am standing in the middle of my scene with a camera. What to hide? What to expose?

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