Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

Storytelling in Photography: 4 of 4

This is the fourth and last of a four-part series of blog posts on Storytelling in Photography. Ira Glass of “This American Life” is a man of insight and created a series of 4 videos for “aspiring” Journalist and Broadcasters, But I’ve been very inspired with what he had to say as I applied his theories to my own genre, photography.  Here are my thoughts on his video. 
Part 4 here:.

In the fourth part of this video series Ira talks about trying to be like other people. Specifically in broadcasting trying to talk like other people. I see this happening in the working photography world more than in the enthusiast world, but I see a lot of photographers trying to take on the persona’s of other famous photographers, especially celebrity photographers. There are a handful of photographers out there that are famous in their own right and have taken on the role of celebrity. Some of their personalities are nothing to brag about and they don’t treat people very kindly. When young aspiring photographers see this, they may come to the conclusion that this type of action is acceptable and that is what is needed to reach this level of photography. I completely disagree! As Ira states, just be yourself. Sure there is pushing your own comfort zone and evolving yourself as a person and as an artist, but don’t thing that copying how someone acts will get you anywhere. Don’t be a jerk to someone just to say that you did it. You should always treat people with respect, the industry is relatively small and people do remember.

Ira also speaks about having a horrible personality in broadcasting. This is when someone speaks about themselves all the time and doesn’t engage with the subject. The way I related this part of what he said to the business of photography, is as a photographer you are selling yourself as skilled labor to your clients no matter how big or how small your assignment. If you are not easy to be around, who’s going to want to hire you. They must as well find someone who is a little less talented but is fun to be around and has a great personality. There are many dynamics that come into play when on a photo shoot. It really is a team effort and as the photographer you are the quarterback. You lead the team. If your attitude is bad it brings the whole shoot down. In many genres of photography you get special access to certain people, I’ve seen and heard of art buyers and clients pick photographers purely on personality not skill. They don’t want to risk their job by hiring someone who has a bad attitude and personality and brings everyone down.

What other things can you think about that would affect your desirability as a working photographer? Use the comments below.

Storytelling in Photography: Part 3 of 4

This is the third of a four-part series of blog posts on Storytelling in Photography. Ira Glass of “This American Life” is a man of insight and created a series of 4 videos for “aspiring” Journalist and Broadcasters, But I’ve been very inspired with what he had to say as I applied his theories to my own genre, photography.  Here are my thoughts on his video. Part 3 here:.

The third video is about good taste and how when we first get started in “photography” we have “good taste” and we know what we like and what looks good to us. The problem comes when we don’t have the skills to match up what we know in our minds is good, and what we actually produce. Many times the reason why we first get started in photography is because we have some sort of vision of what type of work we would like to make. We may see how powerful images can be and we want to speak to people visually. Ira makes the point that it’s normal to have good taste and not have your production match up with our minds eye. The real issue is that many people stop there. They get frustrated that they aren’t producing the type of images that they want to and they give up. He makes the point and I agree with him, that it’s normal for this process to take many years. It’s normal that we aren’t happy with the images that we’re making. I’ve always thought of photography and art as a lifestyle. For the truly committed it’s something that we live, is not something that we participate in. It takes many many years to get to a point where you think you know a little something, and many more years to realize that you don’t know anything. Both Ira and I say don’t be discouraged. Be persistent! Be brave! Press forward! Keep working!

Many times when I’m in the mood of giving myself a good mental lashing, the last thing I feel like doing is work! I feel like stuffing my head into a two-pound bag of Doritoz, like the ones you get at Costco and disappearing for a while! Honestly, sometimes this actually happens, but I’ve learned to force myself to do work. Make images! Produce! Ira stresses this point also. You need to keep producing! You even find someone to help you keep to a deadline. When someone is expecting work from you and holding you accountable, you may have more motivation to not only do the work for yourself but for the other person too. My friends and I use each other as accountability partners. We help each other come up with small project ideas and hold each other too it. You should try this for yourself and see how far you can grow. Maybe it’s like marathon runners that hit the wall, if they are able to push though and keep on running they describe a feeling of a “runner’s high”. I don’t know if it’s exactly like that feeling, but when I’m able to push though my own personal metal blockages, I feel “High”… or at least a sense of accomplishment. I was able to push through my own blockages and move forward. You will have good days and bad days, but my goal always, is to be moving forward.

Are you moving forward?



Storytelling in Photography: Part 1 of 4

For those of you that have heard of Ira Glass and have seen his videos and listened to his radio show “This American Life” know that he’s a very insightful person with a lot to offer. I’ve been the type of person to search for inspiration in all things and in all mediums and try to apply it to my own medium which is photography. A few years back, Ira Glass did a series of videos about story telling in broadcasting and it’s meant for people who are getting started in the broadcasting industry, but I found it profoundly inspirational for myself in relation to Photography. I wanted to share my thoughts with you about how I applied his theories of storytelling in broadcasting to Storytelling in Photography. You can find the videos on YouTube Here: Ira Glass on YouTube or click here to see on this page. I suggest you take a look and see if it was as inspirational for you as it was for me.

In the first part of the video, Ira Talks about the building blocks of a Story:

1. The anecdote or sequence of actions. It’s the story in its purest form. It’s literally the sequence of events one step at a time.

2. The moment of reflection. Why are you telling the story. Why should the person/viewer be listening/looking.

I was reflecting on these building blocks and how we could apply them to photography. I’ve always admired the narrative qualities in the works of Keith Carter, Duane Michals, and Josef Koudelka. They use some of the same techniques that Ira Glass talks about just in a much more subtle way.

Ira talks about raising questions in your stories as well as the need to have both the anecdotal side of the story as well as the moment of reflection working together in order for the whole piece to be larger than the sum of its parts. This is the way I see it as well for photography. Having a great individual images that tie into each other can be used to create a body of work, such as the works of Keith Carter, and Josef Koudelka, that tells a story about a particular place or time, and gives you the reason why that work is important. Presenting the work as a whole makes it more important then if you just saw individually great images. You could also be more specific and sequential such as Duane Michals which uses a series of images to tell a story about a specific subject. By presenting the images in sequence he strengthens the series itself. He also makes each of the images more important as you compare them to the others to try to find the story. I always wondered why I cold look at a Duane Michals book and not put it down for hours. I got caught up in his world and I found it fascinating to find little bits and pieces of a story that I may have missed in previous viewing, or depending on my mood or where my mind was, the sequences meant different things to me.

Many great wedding photographers and photo journalists use these techniques also. They may raise visual questions throughout an event and answer them visually. You may have heard of these techniques as “Tying” elements. It could be as subtle as a color that repeats itself throughout a wedding album or more complex such as a certain logo that appears in all your documentary images about a “down on their luck family”. Having “Tying” elements in your work can be a technique you use to raise your photography to the next level. Using these ideas will give your body of work more relevance if done properly. Also consider using this technique in your portfolio. Some of the strongest portfolios that I’ve seen use these techniques to showcase a body of work as a whole giving the portfolio a much stronger impact then just the individual images on their own. In my experience a softer hand when using these techniques works best to avoid being “campy” unless that’s what you’re going for.

What do you think of these techniques and how have you used them successfully in your own work? We’d love to see it, so please leave a comment below or contact us and give us links to your work. Lets share with the community how you’ve been successful or where you may need some help.


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