During my career as a photographer I have been everything from a nature photographer, to a portrait photographer, to a photojournalist. I’ve done it all at one point. Photojournalism taught me something important that I have carried on into my portrait and fashion photography. The lesson? Tell a Story. If you tell a story with you images, you will keep the reader engaged and invested in the images you show. Fashion photographers regularly tell visual stories through their fashion editorials. This isn’t a story that reads like a book… you don’t even need to have a beginning, middle and end. But when you have a cohesive theme, with different images telling a different part of the story, then you images have more meaning and weight. I have noticed that some of the most successful portrait and wedding photographer use their images to tell a story.
Here is story telling at the most basically level. On Tuesday I took a portrait of a girl at my uncle’s farm. I took a variety of shots, including one of her with a pitchfork for hay, showing her as a working farm girl. Another shot of her is reading a book in a hay stack. These are two very basic images, but with these basic images I can already begin to communicate a story to my viewers. Through the story in the images, this girl is a beautiful farm girl expected to help run the family farm. She works in and around the farm, handling chores, but her heart is not necessarily in it. What she truly enjoys is escaping into the haystacks, hiding from her duties, and diving deep into a book. Here she can escape and pass the hot summer days in her thoughts, dreaming off farm of places or a different time in history.
Ok, did I read a little far into it? Probably, but this is still the idea. I could have posted a dozen more images that get deeper into her story. Images close up of her reading the book, her out in a field running way, or whatever else I envisioned as part of the narrative. But even these two images along begin to paint a picture in your mind.
Use your images to tell a story. It will engage the eyes and mind of your viewers, and ideally increase your portrait sales. Clients will want all the images required to tell the story, and thus purchase additional images.