I've gotten a lot of feedback from this newsletter. It seems to have been helpful for a lot of people, so I wanted to share it to those who aren't subscribed. If you would like to get e-mails like these every week from me helping you grow as a photographer, sign up here.
Also, I thought it might be interesting and helpful to talk about some of the images from this superb wedding, since I just blogged it here.
Digging into details -
Details are key when trying to string together a story through your images. Think about the scene of a movie:
You may first see a wide, bird's-eye shot of a line of camels and nomads walking through the desert as the sun is rising behind them.
Then it may cut to a medium shot of them walking toward the camera. You begin to see more of the men and women's faces and their torn, dirty clothing and wind-blown hair from the trek.
Then a detail shot of one of the nomad's dusty, leathery hands clenching a tattered rope against the back of a camel.
Then a detail of a man's black, wiry beard dressed in orange dust and cracked lips from the dry heat.
Then a detail of the camel's leather feet hitting the sand slowly as specs of sand blow in the wind to illustrate how long and hard the journey has been.
Details are a powerful component to storytelling.
Details are where the intimacy of a story is revealed. When people size another person up when they meet them for the first time, they are observing the details of that person then creating a larger story from those details. Does she wear a watch? What kind of watch is it? Does she wear makeup? How much makeup? Does she have a wedding ring on? How does she smile? Is it an all teeth smile or a quiet smile? How does she hold her arms or move her hands when she talks? Consciously or not, we all create stories of people by stringing together details that we observe about them.
All of these details about a person work together to tell a larger story.
I want to show you how I use details to illustrate a story through photographs.
Below is a series of details I photographed at a recent wedding. Pay attention to the story that unfolds through the details and how you are able to feel and visualize the story of the wedding without ever seeing wider shots of the scene and even faces.
NOTE: This sign was about 2 miles before I got to the wedding site, but I pulled over and took a photo because I knew it would be a great storytelling detail.
A handwritten wedding sign with an arrow on cardboard on an old piece of wood immediately sets the scene and the vibe of the wedding - a laid back, raw, intimate wedding. It says so much about the personalities of the bride and groom.
Juxtapositions in details can be a great tool in telling the story. The old cabin wood and caste iron skillets beside the boxes of dunking donuts illustrates two worlds colliding.
NOTE: Traditional details can be important to photograph, but look for natural details as well. Taking a photo of just a bouquet can be beautiful, but that wouldn't tell the story that this image tells of the bridesmaids tossing down their bouquets to go get some food. I also like how the table cloth mirrors the flowers in the bouquets.
Another juxtaposition detail. Shiny black dress shoes and white chairs paired with the rugged earth creates an interesting story.
These guys were falling from the trees all day from the wind. There were so many on the ground that someone used them to keep the cake plates from flying away. This shot tells a story about the weather and the setting of the wedding.
One more juxtaposition in this detail. This illustrates the setting of the wedding so much. A stuffed coyote so nonchalantly placed in the corner of a cabin where people are drinking during cocktail reception.
NOTE: Had I just taken a photo of the coyote without the woman, it would have been interesting, but you would not have gotten the full story. By including the woman, it allows them to interact with one another and illustrate their shared space.
These details are not your typical flower, cake, bouquet details that you normally think about when visualizing wedding details. I photographed those too, but in order to up your game as a storyteller, it's important to search for the details of a story that make that story unique from any other. Search for the details that tell a story within themselves.
I hope this inspires you to search for the stories within your images. You can share a lot about a story by honing in on one detail.