A. Morris Artistry

Fine Art Photography and Watercolor Painting by Aimee Morris

Storytelling: The Photo Essay

Do you ever go through your old family photos and wonder what was happening in the image? Where did the activity take place? Why was everyone together at this particular time? There’s a cake-was it a birthday, graduation, anniversary? If you’re lucky, your mom or grandma jotted the place, the person’s name, maybe the year. But unfortunately, that is often not the case. Well, there is something you can do with your photos to save your future generations from wondering what you were trying to capture in your photographs. You can put together a photo essay. A photo essay is a specific group of shots that tell a story. Each shot is captioned, and, if you’re feeling up to it, you can write an accompanying story or description of what happened at the event. Here are some example shots you can take to complete your photo essay.

1. Establishing Shots

Your establishing shot is typically a wide angle view where the event took place. In this instance, I took my daughter to ride the carousel at Riverfront Park. If you were shooting a birthday, you might take a photo of the location with all the decorations in place.

2. Detail Shots

Detail shots are close-ups that describe the person, place or event – the “adjective” photos for your essay. Examples might be: the Leoff Carousel sign, the ticket we purchased, a ring she caught on the ride, or detail of the horses on the merry-go-round. Using the birthday party example, you might capture the invitation, a prettily wrapped gift, party favors, candles on the cake, or the child’s hands covered in that cake!

3. Portraits

The portraits in your photo essay will be medium and close-up shots of the people who are important to your event. For my example, it is my daughter, of course. For a birthday party, you would be photographing the child and the guests.

4. Action Shots

Portray what is happening at your event – riding, running, laughing, playing! Action shots can be a little tricky, so you may want to practice ahead of time. Work on panning shots, where the focus follows the subject and the background is blurred, stop-action, or zoom-focus where the center of the subject is in focus but the rest of the shot resembles a blurred tunnel.

Put it Together

Now you can arrange your photos scrapbook-style and caption each one with the name, place, event and date – instant organization. Sites such as Walmart and Walgreens have templates available to make it even easier. This is a great gift idea for other family members that had to miss the event!

Something you may also want to consider is how to get yourself in the photos. All too often the photographer (you) is also a family member, but gets left out. Take advantage of a tripod and timer or even a cell phone and a selfie stick. You’re important, too!

Happy shooting!


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