By Tim Farmer
For the longest time I struggled with story telling through photography.
I could make what I considered compelling images. Nailing the exposure, balance the images (or some times purposely having the image out of balance or braking the golden rule of thirds to build tension). But what was I saying, what was the story?
I felt that I needed to develop a story arc before I went out to shoot. Have a purpose to my shooting. Was this shoot going to be about the beauty of nature, the struggle of daily life, or how people help each other out in times of need? I looked at my favorite images for help. Weather it was an Ansel Adams Moon rise or the haunting green eyes in contrast to a red veil of an Afghani refugee on the cover of Time Magazine.
These images moved me, engaged me to want to learn more about the flight of people in war zones and to explore the natural world around me. But at the time I was a commercial shooter. What story does one tell about a sweater or the newest Teflon pan?
Recently I have learned not to over think it. I have interests, be it a current project on north city decay, exploring rural Missouri, or our place in this universe via astrophotography (photo’s of the stars and Milky Way with a foreground, see image). These are the story. How my photos tell this story is just how I see them.
So now when I am asked how do you tell a story or make compelling images I tell them; fine what interest you, what are your passions and shoot them from your point of view. Yes, you need to plan. But it is less “what is the story going to be”, that is within you. It is planning so you are in the right place at the right time with the right tools. I can’t shoot astrophotography right now in Missouri because we live in the northern hemisphere and galactic center is bellow the horizon. So I will wait until May to start working on that project and plan on working on other projects I have going right now.
Adams did not plan to shoot the moon rise over Hemandez, New Mexico. As the story goes, he didn’t even have his light meter with him (yes he was that good). He saw it, stopped and set up his camera and shot a negative, then the moment was gone. The story was there, within him. It was his love of the western landscapes, his love of nature.
You have the story within you. Just make sure you have the right tools with you to tell it and don’t over think it.
Just go out and shoot.