every picture tells a story

By Craig Gum

“She’s Not Worth it Man”

We all grew up loving stories. Whether we are big time readers or movie lovers or watch television, we are surrounded by stories. We even follow stories on social media. It is always interesting to see who has an opinion or how someone will dictate a story. No matter what, social media stories are always told through that person’s eyes.
Do you want to become a visual story-teller? Today with everyone having the latest Smart Phone, most people try and be storytellers. We all take pics of random events and post these on social media for the world to see. However, too often, we let other people tell the story of our pictures. I say, let your pictures tell your own story. Have control of your own stories because our stories are what make us unique.
Anyone can pick up a camera and take a picture but making those pictures tell your story is an entirely different animal. There are some things to consider when you endeavor to engage your audience into your work.
Passion – Shoot something you truly care about. When you are passionate about something or someone you will naturally gravitate toward interesting and more in depth imagery and your audience will follow you. As with anything, the audience can tell if the subject bores you. If you are just getting started then think about what you truly love in life: Your family, sports, portraits, weddings…think about what excites you and start there. You will be amazed at the results.
Lighting – Photography literally means “painting with light.” Photography is an art and your brush is light. Make sure the lighting of your scene makes sense. For example, use early morning light coming through a window to make your image look soft and inviting. Harsh sunlight or artificial spotlights create dark and moody shadows. Remember to match the lighting with the mood you want to convey.
Setting – The frame is your entire setting but don’t forget it can also express time. Every story has a plot that evolves over time, your ‘plot’ has to be shown in a single rectangle. By placing action on the left or the right of your image it can show something that is about to happen or has already happened. Just like when we read a book, we read a picture in a similar fashion.
Storyline – If your story is to be created over several frames, think about longer shots being the leadup, with close ups building suspense. Extreme close ups will act as the climax to your story. Every story has a rhythm to it and photographic stories are no different. Try to vary your shots to provide interest and rhythm to your story.
I put She’s Not Worth it Man together years ago for friends of mine, Ami and John. As you can see, I put their two boys into a very adult situation to tell a story of heartbreak, sorrow and compassion. The lighting is shadowy and moody as you would expect in a bar and the darker look helps express the sad and lonely feel of heartbreak. The distance of the shot tells us that we are in the middle of this particular story and the motion was stopped right at the climax of the boy on the right attempting to console his friend.
Keep these few things in mind when you are using your camera to tell your own stories and you will be rewarded with some fantastic imagery to share with others.


Criag gum headshot

Craig Gum is a local professional photographer. His work is breathtaking and his pictures are full of stories. He specializes in creative and conceptual photography that has been featured in many galleries, art shows and countless magazines.

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