Friday, 24 July 2015

Tell a story

Photography is like directing a moving in one (or a couple of) image(s). Something is going on in front of your camera and it is on you to capture it in a way the viewer can understand the message behind the scene that you want to tell. When it comes to street photography it is mucho grande important to tell a story with every single photo. The amount of detail and importance is to you liking. But there should be a path, motion or something else behind the final picture.

Need some examples?

Photograph arriving by Nils Kuelper (robvisual) on 500px
arriving - X100s (f8.0)
I was leaving a train station and headed over to a pedestrian bridge. From my higher viewpoint I saw this guy leaving a taxi heading over to a hotel.

I grabbed my camera quickly because he was moving towards darkness (what makes a great background if he is half dipped into it). I framed the taxi at the bottom left so it creates a diagonal that leads the viewer to the moving subject (man). From bottom to top you can see it as a movie still that tells the story of someone who left the taxi for the check-in at the hotel. Does he have an important meeting? From where has he just arrived?

Sounds simple? Yes. But it is much about composition. See all the lines (sidewalk, hotel, taxi) together. I also choose black and white to emphasize more on the thing that is going on. And the colors of the original scene were not that exciting at all.

It took a longer time for me to train my eyes to see like a director in a artistic way. There is no rocket science in controlling the technical aspects of a camera. But when it comes to the contents of an image you need to cut the right slice out of the scene (and some luck and fairy-dust).

Photograph sk8 with style by Nils Kuelper (robvisual) on 500px
sk8 with style - X100s (f8.0)
This photo was also taken form a higher viewpoint. In Hamburg there is a skate-area embedded in a green park called "Planten un Blomen". I was standing on my viewpoint and this older guy with inline skates was doing the old fashioned roller skate thing to relax himself.

There is also a central building in the middle to observe the whole area. It is a great leading line and a good visual anchor for the whole image. You also need some luck to catch a still of the skater being perfectly aligned with the diagonal lines of the building, because you don´t know in advance what he is gonna do next. The trees and the sky in the background are the perfect soft background for the hard concrete scene.

I have to think of classical music in the background why he is doing free skating like at the Olympic games. The loneliness in this photo is also an aspect that made the viewer maybe think (there other half of this place full of skaters) about freedom, sports or other things.

So every time you see something interesting going on, try to find the right position, angle, viewpoint etc. and compose your shot like a movie director. Think of the story you want to tell the viewer of your photo. Always look at the whole image and don´t try to focus just on the subject. It takes some time to train your perception and your final decisions, but when you look at the results it is worth the effort.

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