Three Elements of Storytelling
So we're going to talk about the important elements that I feel are necessary to making a great storytelling photo they are light composition and moment and I have them in this order because when I'm shooting I tend to look for these things in this order I look for good light first then I make my composition and then I'm a stubborn little be waiting for the moment and what my mentors uh irwin tamale who I love his work so much and I've learned so much from him he watched me shoot when I was one of his students in foundation workshop if you haven't heard of that we'll talk about that too and in a little bit he said you're really deliberate shooter meaning I don't make pictures by accident I'm working really hard for them and that was a really nice compliment to give me because he was recognizing how hard I was working and waiting and being patient until everything came together so let's take a look at light for a second um some of this might be very familiar information some of it might...
take something away from it you guys and again if you have any questions just ask me just stopped me and asked me so we have outdoor sidelight which I like to use a lot I look for it you can see it and then just causes or position yourself if you know where the light sources you see where your subject is naturally happening? I'm not putting these people here, I'm seeing that this is how the light is hitting them, and then I'm making a choice to position myself to photograph where the light is going to be nicest on them. So this is where the light sources you can see it it's just off to the side off of my frame and it's hanging this way, the darker the background behind them, the more evident that light hitting him is going to be right because it's it's almost creating like a sidelight on his face, and that is separating him from the background if you had him higher in the sky, were this sidelight is very similar to this light. It's not going to be is defined. Does that make sense to you? Okay, so when you're looking for this light, you also want to look for a dark background behind when that's just amount of composition that's just a matter of getting lower, getting higher to make sure that you can frame it that way. I use a lot of indoor sidelight, so just because you're outdoors, that doesn't mean that's the only way we're going to see that light, you can also see it inside, um it's just it makes for a more defined graphic image, the stronger the light is and again the light is coming from here and I've got that dark background the darker backroom behind him so it's more to find I use this light a lot when I'm making portrait rim light so rim light is when you have the light source behind your subject you can see it right there by doing that and again having a dark background behind him you're going to see this lovely rim light like that halo of light on dso for me when I'm doing one hour sessions we'll talk more about this in the second segment I'm looking for this light so I prefer to have my shoots earlier in the day I don't want sunset shoes I want the sun to be a little bit higher so it doesn't flood my lens so this time of year I probably want to photograph a family around six o'clock versus a lot of people especially if they don't know how to use light they'll avoid it altogether and not scheduled family session till about eight I prefer earlier in the day before the sun is really low so tight enough so I can get that room light light in the same place on lee I'm composing differently so it's casting these backlit shadows beaches are the best part place tio play with shadows because it's completely flat um I was really lucky when I was at the beach or made lots of fun backlit shadows again light is in the same place it's just behind your subject um another way you can use back late obviously is for silhouettes um silhouettes you want to meet her for the light that is behind your subject we're going to talk a lot about silhouettes when I'm going through calling photos and I'm editing my photos and processing my photos but it's really important if you're going to make silhouettes that you do not have big blobs that you don't know what it is with people we joke there's two things you need either need a profile or you need cowboy hat one of the other so that it's clearly defined what you're looking at. So in this situation I put the family in this position knowing that I was going to try and silhouette but at the same time it reminded them I got I want you to play with your daughter but I want you to make sure that you guys are all looking at each other so I have that profile when you see the light is just right behind them actually this is this is like closer sunset so the light is lower in the sky but his which is I'm working with outdoor silhouettes I'm also working with indoor silhouettes same thing metering for the backlight and so this is more of a storytelling picture using the light differently and that's really important that we're going to be exposing for highlights as much as possible we have all the control over what type of story we're gonna tell bhai how are controlling the light are you guys all shooting? Emmanuel? Okay, I feel I personally feel that the only way I can control my life the best is by shooting emmanuel because I have total control over what choices I'm making I'm not saying that you can't shoot an amateur shutter priority just for me that seems to be the easiest until I obviously I'm exposing for is the outdoor light I'm also making sure that in this situation I don't want to blow out my background because I want my viewer to see that they're at the beach and the only way I can do that is to make sure that I am exposing properly for the back then there's ambient light which most yes, well, just going back to that silhouette picture yes so I understand you made that choice because you wanted to see the beach detail would you ever shoot that same picture exposing for a skin tone and blowing out your background in this particular situation? No, because I know that I want to make an interesting picture that's going to tell a story and I feel like the only way to tell this story is I knew he was getting ready to go out to the beach so the only way that I could really make this picture a storytelling picture is if I expose probably to see the beach there are times where I will blow out a background when I'm doing family photos on the beach in the morning on the east coast this is different from the wet so it would be west coast evening shoots and they want the why you need to put the sun behind them so that's going to be on the shore is that right? No east coast let's take the east coast okay, yeah, I'm size ghost sorry west coasters you gonna figure that out? Ok, east coast sunsets on the water okay, the I'm sorry east coast sun rises on the water if they want a morning shoot I always put the light behind them so if it's a morning shoot they're goingto have there their background totally blown out because all they have is sky and water behind them, right? So there's no dark background to do we start relating. So in that instance, I'm going to expose for the skin tones obviously not the background because then the people are going to be pitch black, right? So in that situation yes, most the time and we'll talk about this a lot in the three days I'm exposing for highlights I'm making more dramatic photos I'm not going safe with my light choice, there are times when I'm going to expose for skin tones, but most of time it's going to highlight some exposing for and if anything I can inspire you to do that, it just makes for more um, uh, a more rich picture if you're exposing for the highlights is going to give your subjects more dimension if you're doing that, I'm not saying you always do it, but they're a lot of the times I'm doing it well, we'll talk about it now that you've mentioned it if I see pictures in the next three days and I'm like, oh, yeah, this is one of those times all pointed out because I love shooting in that scenario with a full lit window behind the subject, but I always exposed skin tones, getting that real soft glow, right? I love that that's how I would approach it, but this is very interesting, and it just gives me a different way to think about it. I am not a pretty picture maker, I'm not and never have been and make beautiful photos, but I don't make pretty ones my brain doesn't work that way. I'm not really good about, like seeing it pretty in the soft glow, I'm more of a hard light dynamic late it's what I'm drawn to it doesn't mean you have to do that that's the other thing your point of view is different than my point of view and that's great in part of what influences why wanted suppose for highlights why want dramatic photos is part of what my life was like what what my experiences have been and how I want to tell these stories and we'll also talk about that tomorrow with finding your own voice and working with who you are kind of using that to direct how you're making pictures and okay emails okay um ambient light this is safe flight this is just like that kind of bounces around this was a family that I was with for seventy two hours in disney world um they're at the what's that guy that has the big ball that fault that goes from indiana jones that was a really badly thing that guy with the really big stone ball this's indiana jones show really nice just ambient light I made it that this son representation just great cause it's just coming in and kind of bouncing lots of drivers love this likes this kind of easy um and then soft of use light, which is actually my least favorite light I hate soft diffuse light I'm bored by it I don't know what to do with it and for me it forces me to work really hard to make good moments if I don't have good light to work with if I just have this boring lite I better be making the best moment photos that I can in this situation this word there is like a tiny bit of light that's why I put it here that's coming but it was a gray sky so yes say that is what we get a lot off here at the boring like yeah and um a lot of people do like it though because this in that there are no real surprises you know and it's kind of consistent but as faras you know, having something different you're right there's not a lot to play with right? So is gonna force you to have to make better moments you're going to have to work harder to make pictures where it's easy light which would think would be I would tell you the opposite right now your job is easy like you just go with the flow but for me it's like you better be working ten times harder because you want to be making pictures that make you feel something. If there's no light to kind of add that dynamic then maybe it's all the more important that it's good moments and then hard light, which is what I worked with a lot especially dane light day and life sessions I'm shooting all day it doesn't matter what time of day it is I'm working with hard light, so you just need to know how to meet her properly for it on and again. I'm always going for the dark darks and light lights. Lots of contrast, so I'm mentoring for highlights. Um, this is when the sun is just directly pretty much overhead, so we're gonna talk about, um, why light why is important? Why do I care? It should be your main priority when you're shooting that's what photography is it's? A greek word that translates to painting with light, right it's all about how much late you're exposing on your film or in this case now your sensor but it's all about light. So for me, like gives me dimension, which I use that word now, like five times observing and controlling light allows you to add to mention and texture to your images side and directional light I feel do it best that's when you're getting a lot of texture on your subjects when you're sidelining them for me, it's also a matter of perspective um, how much light you allow into your camera, along with the direction in which the lightest hitting your subject is your way of sharing your point of view with the world, I just said that before you choose where you position yourself to make a picture so you're controlling the direction where the light is and where it's hitting your subject there times when you don't have any control over that if you're like in a situation where there's not a lot of room to move or it's a moment that's happening and you're not going to get the moment if you move but a lot of the time you have a lot of control over that and that's again why I'm goingto expose for the beach and maybe jesse's going to expose for the skin tones those air our points of view and we have total control over what choices were making third for me is mood uh light completely changes the mood ah how much late you let in will change the mood if I want something that shows joyous energy and bubbly and it's exciting I'm gonna want is much late in my camera is possible I wanted to be is brightened punchy is possible but if it's quiet in somber moment I might position myself so it's softer light so maybe it is back late and a washing out the background and so I'm just exposing the skin tone but light does definitely set the mood when it comes to pictures um okay, so I'm gonna talk to you and kind of explained to you the idea of exposing for highlights okay um we talked about this a lot in the foundation workshop um so this is susan, one of susan's daughters. What time of day is this? Would you guess it's one or two is one of this morning or night? Right? Because there's no light if I exposed for the entire room, we lose the whole mood that it's either morning or night, and depending on where I put this picture in the slideshow that's goingto make it definite what time of day it is this happens to be first thing in the morning when she wakes up in the siri's you learn that she keeps it dark in there because our sister is sleeping in the same room, so the only light she has to get our homework is from that little light right there. If I exposed for the whole room, you're not going to feel that at all from this picture so all that the only light I'm exposing for is this this highlight that's it, it sets a mood, it gives a picture dimension and it's my point of view, if I expose for overall with this picture, we wouldn't have had a picture at all. This picture only works because I exposed for the highlight and then I anticipated so I'm metered for that light he was playing with that ball around, so then I, like, prayed to the photo gods, please let the ball go in that direction it's going to hit his light right perfect is going to hit the light perfect on his face and then I'm going to get that photo but again, if I had exposed for the whole scene, we wouldn't have seen obviously this tree he's playing under the tree inside I'm exposing for highlights as well again to tell a story if I exposed for everything you wouldn't have seen clearly that I'm telling you I want you to look at him yes, because I focused that way but also I'm choosing to focus on lee in the light on his face is telling my viewer my observer, the one looking at the picture where I want him to look I'm making it very easy for them that's what I want you to look this is another one of those exposing the highlights to get the mood um I see this light everywhere. My goal with you three in the next three days is keep reinforcing this so that when you go back out and shoot that's all you're going to see is this light it really ones that keys in and you see this light you won't see anything else you're only gonna want to photo photograph this type of light and it's everywhere it doesn't matter if it's in daytime or nighttime but just choosing what light you're exposing for makes all the difference this is mary bathroom to see a lot of pictures from her family in the next three days. I just photograph them and I love them and she's an amazing mom and her kids air crazy and funny and out of control and wonderful and loving and I love them, but again I'm choosing if I had exposed for everything, you wouldn't have seen that he's pointing to his belly button, I'm making that choice that that's what's important, I'm telling my viewer that's what I want you to look at using light for naughtiness catching naughtiness um again, it just gives it a lot more texture to the photo okay, composition, I'm willing to do a little bit about composition in this segment. Um, I'm my best teeth composition as we're looking at pictures were composition doesn't work, and one of the things I want to do later is I'm going to show you an entire, uh, session that I did yesterday all my bad stuff, all my raw, I didn't process anything is basically me naked because that's the best way that you can learn and see how much gross stuff I shoot and how little of the greats to face you and that's cause I'm working really hard, but we'll talk about like just for composition purposes like things that you can do to change your composition for right now get close do not be afraid to get close shoot with it thirty five millimeter twenty four is good I feel like twenty four adds a little too much information thirty five I feel is like the perfect amount of information um I tend to get sloppy as a shooter if I'm shooting with a twenty four not so you can't I don't like going any wider than a twenty four I don't suggest going wire than twenty four um thirty five you can always back up but thirty five seems to be like the perfect enough of information for what angle you mainly shoot primes then yes well I shoot I only shoot with three lenses and shoot with a thirty five millimeter an eighty five millimeter and an age of two hundred and that's it for what it doesn't matter what I'm shooting those only three things I have in my back I'm a very low maintenance shooter I travel with just a tiny little bag it's all we need to shoot so this is thirty five so get close don't be afraid your clients have hired you they have invited you into their homes whether or into their lives whether it's one hour or twenty four hours or seven two hours or fifty minutes they've asked you to come take pictures of them so you should never be afraid to get close you've already gone that permission is not like your going up to some stranger that you just met with your camera like they've already given you that permission and that's awesome so your job is easy there's no reason why you can't get close when you get close you khun get tiny little detail lt's like I wouldn't have made this picture of him of her playing with an inchworm if I was afraid and standing ten feet away like I got enclosed with my thirty five um getting close filling that frame elicits a response all three of you laughed we should not be laughing at the poor little girl who's crying hysterically this's not a funny moment in her life she was not happy but it is funny like this is normal and getting right up in their face and photographing that not only pisses them off really just makes him cry more but is going to elicit a response from my viewer and the parents love this picture getting in close make sure viewer feel like they're they're like you have to be a part of what is happening filling my frame with this cog like it wouldn't be the same if I was using my long lens like I'm in there like it almost feels like you're hugging them with you know you're a part of the hug the closer you are that being said getting far also has his benefits um I like to get far a lot of times when I feel like I'm peeking in on moments that are not I'm not supposed to be there or like when kids were being really naughty this photo you guys are a little bit far away if you're a little bit closer he is sucking the water out of the hose like he's not supposed to be doing that and mom dad were around it was a perfect frame where I felt like that's the right choice I want to make it look like I'm peeking in on something naughty that's happening so that's my choice to like stand back does that make sense sometimes I choose to get shoot far away I shot a lot close of them bowling by thought it was really funny like how far he was watched getting ready to watch and see if his mom was going to get a strike or not so way backing up adding more information to the picture toe add to it um just kind of given environmental feeling like where are we sometimes is good to back up obviously we're in the city this is susan and her daughter she's walking home from school I did photograph her close and in front of her but I also ran ahead knowing that they were going to be with the crossing guard to back up and kind of given overall view to sew for this the story is where are they? Where are they walking this is another one of those like just the light was perfect on him and I felt like it would have been the same picture if I was close that is a little boy dressed up in a fairy outfit and he loves this very offense and I love his parents there happen to be good friends of mine, but I love them all the more that they allow their child to just explore and be himself no matter what it is he wants to dio um and I think that by backing up it kind of tells that story like he just is he's just he's just in his very costume also light I was looking for light and if I hadn't backed up, you would have seen it. If I was close, you would have seen all this other light and noticed that there was, like, kind of the spotlight on him. Um, you also want to try and get high and I live in colorado when we are in saddle and I'm not talking about getting high high just about like moving your body to get high um teo give a certain perspective that's different? We don't normally see things really high unless you're like a basketball player um so it's good to sometimes just if you can get up above to give a different perspective ah, also just for storytelling sometimes I like to get high just isolate a situation, but if I get close it's kind of boring and not a moment, but if I get overhead and show it differently, I feel like it's more of a story telling picture uh, again just getting high they're horsing around on the ground at the same time you want to get low as well, so any time you're bored any time you feel like you're not making good pictures any time you feel like you're stuck it's really important that you just move your body, move your body somewhere else, try from a different point of view, so for me, getting low also helps clean up your background. We're going to talk a lot about that when I'm going through pictures, getting low cleans up background, especially if you're outside more clutter you have behind more difficult it is for the viewer to see what it is that you want them to look at, so getting lower helps clean up the background then there's no question what it is that you should be looking at um, tiny tiny little moments I see that parents don't realize, um, sometimes it requires me to get lo I did not feel that this frame needed the face in it just the fact that when they read, I noticed that she grazes her pointer finger along the kyoto no one else would have noticed that, but I did, and so wanted to make a picture that showed that and it's a very slight gesture, so he didn't want to be obvious about it. I wanted to just make a picture that was just hinting at it, getting loafer for this. I just want a clean background here's a here's a time were then exposed for them, not the background and also fill your frame. It's really, especially if you're using a thirty five millimeter failure frame, you want the eye, even even if we have our subject right here, we still want her eye to flow, so I feel my frame a lot. Um, I also in this case, I needed to fill my frame because it was such a tiny little bathroom, and I wanted to show the chaos that was happening there and how tight corners it was for all of them to be in there together. Um, filling the frame from en end. Sometimes I'll fill the frame like I said with empty space, just so I could direct the eye to the middle. I'm always watching my corners. I want my viewers, I to go from this corner to this corner by focusing and meet a ring on this light. My eye's gonna go here first and then it'll travel around and go to the other corner and notice that he's having a fit as well so there was probably some sort of fight does all this make sense to you guys? My going too fast? Ok, last thing is a moment I don't always need really obvious movements were in your face make you laugh out loud or cry hysterically sometimes it's just subtle moments like this that tells you this is probably first thing in the morning and dad is way too hung over and tired to be dealing with the kid tiny little moments don't always need all of the body and it just the right amount of body that was her third birthday they were talking about how she turned three on the potty so one of my new favorite moments um mary beth tends to be the most patient mom I've ever witnessed um and sometimes she just needs a little moment um and I think lots of parents can relate to this type of situation questions questions from the internet I just wanna thank you guys you have some amazing questions out there and there are tons of them of course very many of these questions we will be covering during the live workshop so encourage you to go into the course page and you'll see all the different segments that person is going to be doing the three days so because we definitely like to bring questions on topic and of course new to creative live is the new way that you can ask questions but you could also vote on questions so we don't repeating questions is not as helpful as actually looking through the questions and finding you someone have may have already asked it you can vote for it that'll move it up to the top but we have a great question here from bear bear tails who wants to know how much how much do you interact with the family during this during this day how much interaction is okay? I don't want to tell too much answer that too much because we talk a lot about that in gaining trust platt yes I'm talking to the family all day long I interacted with them amass name questions I'm going about it the whole day as if I'm a member of the family and that is also in my one hour sessions as well it doesn't matter like for me the more, um interacting with a family, the more trust I'm getting from them does that make sense? So I'm not I've never describe myself is a fly on the wall I'm not I have a thirty five I'm gonna be open your junk you know what I mean like but what I am going to do is work on getting the trust from my clients so they feel so comfortable in me that when I'm in there space for my thirty five millimetre that there is it's no big deal to them like they don't care if I'm there because I'm already their friend or I'm already in a safe place with them emotionally physically so yes, I'm interacting all day long yes raging any directing though no okay for my one hour sessions will talk about directing for daily life sessions there's absolutely no direction at all and if they're not in the light and I want them to be light, I'm just waiting and hoping that they're going to naturally gravitate I've also learned how to expect a lot of behavior like I think this is going to happen and so I'm just patient and I wait and I wait no wait the more you do, these memorial realized that anticipation is everything to make these pictures and you will learn to pick up on clues because kids air pretty predictable parents are less, but overall humans as a whole have it have a sense of predictability that if you could just pick up on it and observed a lot over and over again um you can kind of anticipate what's gonna happen um I'm always looking for funny moments uh they are all the time and they aren't always blamed, so you have to like be very aware of them just again, like small moments, that they don't realize this is gonna be a really awesome picture. But, like mimicking, I love when kids do adult behavior or a mirror, you have another question. Um, unexpected moments. I just have to be ready. This is one of those since I was like, oh my god, they're doing it, they're doing it, they're they're, they're high fiving. I'm getting this. I was already in the position to hope that that would happen.