The stories behind the images

The stories behind the images
chairs, rome

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What story do you want to tell with your photos?

The story behind the image:
I love this quote from American photographer and author Stephen Shore -

Where a painter starts with a blank canvas and builds a picture, a photographer starts with the messiness of the world and selects a picture. The Nature of Photographs

On this day our "world" was Via del Governo Vecchio in Rome, an eclectic street just off Piazza Navona. It's one of our favourite streets for photography in Rome.

We always shoot in this street on our tours. Its diversity offers photographers of all levels of experience an opportunity to tell a story. At the end of the day, when we review our images, it never ceases to amaze me how many different stories come out of the one street!

When you are traveling it's important to ask yourself each time you bring your eye to the viewfinder - what picture am I selecting, what story am I wanting to tell?

Most of us shoot what we like... it's an emotional choice.

Good photographers add to that by actively choosing and making decisions about their images - they decide where to stand (sit, squat or lie) to take their images; they decide what to include in the frame (is the photograph a fragment of the larger world, or a world unto itself); they decide the duration of exposure (will time be frozen, blurred, still); they decide what to focus their lens on; they decide when to press the shutter (the decisive moment).

On top of all of this, each and every photographer brings their own unique combination of life experiences to their images.

Dissecting my image above - I wanted to tell the story of everyday Rome - the Rome beyond its amazing monuments... the Rome I became a part of when I lived here. My life experience.

I made the following decisions:

  • I selected two shops that had very little tourist appeal and no signage in english

  • I shot at normal height as I was wanting a photo-journalism / documentary feel

  • I shot wide to include a hint of the doorway of an adjoining building to give a sense of the continuation of the street

  • Knowing it was only a matter of time before a motorino zoomed past, I chose a shutter speed that would give some blur and NOT freeze the movement

  • I then waited for a customer to walk into the scene, and for the motorino to zoom past - the decisive moment

  • In post production I stripped out some of the colour to again give it more of a photo-journalism result - I didn't want the colour to overwhelm or distract from the story

    • This shot tells the story I want to tell. It is a slice of everyday Roman life.

      Dianne's image below, of the same street a few shops down, captures an entirely different mood and story.

      As travel photographers, we must know what story we want to tell, what picture we want to select well before we have released the shutter.

      Equipment and settings used on top image:
      Camera - Canon EOS 5D
      Settings - f4.5, 1/80s, ISO 400, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
      Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
      Focal length: 24mm

      Happy shooting, from Dianne and Lisa at Capture Italy