Telling a Story in a Photograph Can Be Difficult

Today there is a smorgasbord of images on the internet. Facebook has been a great place to share photos, along with Instagram, and now Twitter has jumped in offering to display images. So it is a great time to be a photographer with so many places for you to share your work.

But why do some photos seem to appeal to us over other images? In my opinion it is the story. Yes the photograph should be a quality image but I have witness less the stellar images that have a great story and look past the technical issues of the image because it was telling such a great story.

But the question is how do you tell a story in one single image? That has been something I have been seeking to find out for some time now. Is is just the beauty in a landscape? The look in a portrait? Or the action in a sport image? 

I will try and explain the best I can by using some of my own images to show how I was trying to capture a story over just a photograph.

The first photo is of of my daughter with my granddaughters a few years ago. They were playing in the backyard with their little dog Miley. I of course had my camera ready. I took this quick portrait of the three of them with their dog. Which is great for me and my daughter because it will stop time and when we look back and have a quick memory of that that day but it does not really tell a story other than a moment in time.

However this photograph of my granddaughter Madison interacting with her dog Miley definitely tells a story of how she feels about her dog. It brings the viewer into a special moment of a little girl and her dog and possibly remind them of how they felt as a child with their own dog.


In this next photograph I was out hiking a trail with my daughter's dog Lucy. We got to a spot near the South Platte river in Littleton, Colorado just as the sun was starting to set. I instantly could see how beautiful the golden light was illuminating the landscape.

I took this image to try and capture the beauty of the moment with the sun setting and casting its beautiful golden light. It is a good photograph but I don't think there is much of a story here.


I decided it needed a subject and I just happen to have the right candidate.  I started throwing rocks into the water and Lucy eagerly jumped in to retrieve them splashing water everywhere. I knew in that moment this would be the story. I then quickly started taking photographs as she was diving into the water. I ended up with this image that not only shows how beautiful it was at that moment of the day but also told the a story of the dog enjoying the fun of playing in the river.

When I was learning photography I was more concerned in getting my settings right to take a well exposed and sharp image. This is important in your growth as a photographer and I spent hours and hours practicing on that skill.  I still practice all the time and I am always trying to get better by using different methods of shooting but the biggest thing I try and do now while photographing is ask myself "what is the story here" I want each image to not only be a well executed photograph but one that will make the viewer understand the story I am trying to tell in the image. To me a photograph without a story it is just another pretty picture or snapshot.

I now find myself walking away from spending time composing and working a scene if in the end there is no story to be told. A very knowledgable photographer once told me the hardest thing to learn in photography is to know when "not" to take a photograph. I have to agree and with digital being so easy I think we all take more images than we should.

No matter if it is your iPhone or a professional camera try and always ask yourself if there is a story to be told in this photograph I am about to create?  I know that question has helped me.

Here are a few more photos that I believe tell a story, but you be the judge. Please leave any comments below.

It is my goal to write about the things you are interested in and sometimes I need your help to know what you would like me to share with you. You can leave ideas below or just contact me

Until next week, I will see you on my Facebook Page. 


 Melville, Montana

Melville, Montana