based in Salem, Oregon
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I am an award-winning professional picture editor who has helped photographers tell their stories and elevate their work, whether it was still images or video. Every photo project, every portfolio,...
My Photo Editor Mind - Pt. 3 Story Planning
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
I’m going to explain this in simple terms to get my point across about planning. Imagine you are shooting a wedding; whether or not you realize it, you’re probably thinking of the various shots that will complete this story. You need the bride getting ready, the groom walking down the aisle, etc. You might also be thinking about how you can make that walking down the aisle pic look different…hmm, is there a high vantage point? You also might to shoot details of the ring, get a portrait of the bride, and on and on. You know the narrative (we all know the narrative of a typical wedding), so you can think about the different ways and angles to complete the story. Put this all together and you have the makings of a thoughtful collection of images – opening shot, closing shot, details, sense of place, etc.
A long time ago when I was young and foolish, I spent six months covering a story with the idea that if I shot enough rolls of film, I would have a story…automatically! Wrong! I had to learn this the hard way, so learn from my mistakes, don’t be me.
I would suggest you do this when planning your story.
Going back to the recession family mentioned in Part 2, the parents lost their jobs and because of this they have to leave their home. Think of all the ways you need to tell this story. First, we need a family shot; so begins the shot list. Think of different ways you can shoot this; no I’m not talking about the family portraits framed on the wall; that’s not enough, but maybe they have dinner together, go to church together, or go to the daughter’s softball game together. If you can’t think of different possibilities, then maybe this is a great question to ask them. Now you do this with everything: Where are they moving? Are they apartment hunting, looking online? Are the parents (or older children) looking for work? What are the parts that will tell this story? Once that is done, come up with ten variations on each theme. The point of all of this is to start thinking about your narrative; this is the first step. If you don’t think about your narrative until after you are finished shooting, you might miss some great shots. Of course, there will be surprises and unplanned events you can’t anticipate, but figuring out the narrative beforehand will give you a roadmap to success.