How To Tell a Story Through Mobile Photography

If you want to not only evoke emotion — but tell a story — then peek at our essential tricks for creating a good narrative in your photography.

Tips for Storytelling | Creating a Good Narrative In Your Mobile Photos

Administering an element of storytelling in photography is a new practice of patience, determination, and action. It's an exhilarating process that, when appropriately executed, requires additional knowledge. If you're looking for general tips on capturing unique frames that not only evoke emotion — but ultimately tell a story — then take a peek at our essential tricks for creating a good narrative in your streamline of mobile photography (though, these principles can apply to any camera).

The Bahamas.

Sailing the seas outside Turks and Caicos.

Beginning, Middle, and End

Much like reading your favorite novel, the beginning chapters establish a beautiful setting for the story, introduce the main characters, and mold essential locations. The middle of any story gives context to the three elements mentioned above, while the final chapter provides the audience with a satisfying conclusion (unless you're Game of Thrones). Visual storytelling in photography follows these same rules. We lead the viewer on a journey as a witness to a particular moment — or moments — of that same story.

Of course, a thoroughly complex and complete story with a beginning, middle, and end requires a streamline of photographs, as only one photo conveys the moods and emotions of a particular moment.

To effectively create this story in photo form, start with some pre-planning: think of the mood you're trying to convey, introduce your characters, locations, ideas, and fully execute how the story will unfold.

Let's take, for example, a camping trip. First, photograph the group of individuals setting up their gear to head down the trail, then shoot a portrait of each of their faces. Grab those details: the shining sweat beads dancing along their foreheads, their crazy hair styles sticking beyond their hats, and the dirt mounds piling at the top of their threaded backpacks. Photograph the winding river bed and stacked red rocks like a pile of hot cakes dripping with maple syrup. Once you've established the three main elements, capture the lifestyle of what's it's like on the trail: this is the middle part — the context — of your story. Give clues to the lifestyle they're living while hiking up the mountain or canyon. Finally, conclude with a standing ovation at the summit; an ending success story waiting to be told by John Krakauer.

California streets.

The inside of my living space.

Coffee-side table fixings.

Gorgeous afternoon light.

Establish A Theme

If you're in a particular situation where the beginning, middle, and end don't necessarily apply — at least come up with a representational theme. They are broken down into three different categories to choose from:

Stylistic Theme: A visual representation of selected techniques or styles that overlap in variety.

Visual Theme: Shots that focus on a particular palette or mood reflected on the apparent choices by the photographer.

Locational Theme: Recurring images from a particular place that idealize a specific location.

Scotland's finest coffee shop.


Breaking out the Oru Kayak.

It's Okay To Be Messy

Part of what makes lifestyle photography so genuine and endearing is its messy accouterment in the foreground or those silly details that shine through the background. Capturing realistic scenes means embracing all parts of the photograph whole-heartedly and steering away from perfecting every aspect of your picture. It's what sets apart "lifestyle" photography from a stylistic shoot; more natural and organic.

Oslo, Norway.

Clippings from a skiing trip.

The summit of the mountain before send-off.

Consistent Editing Style

One significant difference between highly seasoned photographers and beginners is the overall level of consistency in their post-production processes. Clean, seamless Instagram feeds, and portfolio galleries make for one helluva presentation. It speaks volumes to the testaments of one's work. Most visionary experts go through a wonky editing phase, so don't take it personally.

First, define what you want your editing style to be.

It's imperative to streamline your efforts on what exactly it is you want out of the creative process. Focus your energy on your long-term, artistic goals, and ask yourself what you want your viewers to recognize when they look at your work. If you like bright, airy, natural images then run like the wind with that sensation. If you want your vibe to be more edgy or offbeat, then be as gritty as you can be. Have confidence in your ability to tell a story with color and saturation. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Oregonian hot springs.

My two babies.

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