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Mastering the Art of Photography

Lesson 21 of 39

Focus On The Story

Chris Weston

Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

21. Focus On The Story
Chris poses the question, what is the point of focus? In answering that question, he reveals the power of focus and de-focus in defining the visual narrative and leading the viewer on a visual journey through the image space.


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6 Finding The Visual Narrative Duration:02:39
7 Behind-the-scenes: Naples Duration:07:52
9 Finding Inspiration Duration:03:19
10 Slowing Down Duration:03:57
11 Three Reasons To Shoot RAW Duration:02:29
14 WYSIWYG Duration:04:15
15 Choosing Lenses Duration:05:02
16 Perspective Duration:02:44
19 Separate And Isolate Duration:02:32
20 The Art Of Creative Exposure Duration:06:38
21 Focus On The Story Duration:04:20
22 The Passage Of Time Duration:03:00
24 Color vs. Black & White Duration:03:09
25 The Decisive Moment Duration:03:00
30 Case Study: Moody Blues Duration:03:29
31 Image Reviews Duration:03:02
33 Image Review: The Golf Course Duration:02:32
34 Image Review: Dreamstate Duration:02:38
35 Image Review: Gone Fishing Duration:02:24
36 Image Review: Promenade Duration:01:47
38 Image Review: Grass and Field Duration:02:20

Lesson Info

Focus On The Story

What is the point of focus? No, really, What is the point of focus? It's not such a stupid question, because the answer reveals how in composition degrees of sharpness enable us to emphasis and de emphasis objects in the scene and lead the viewer on a visual journey or not, depending on your intent. We focus a camera so we can clearly identify the object of the photograph. If that object was blurred, would pay it no attention. And that's the point of focus. The human brain is designed to center its attention on objects that appear sharp and ignore objects that are blurred. The more blood they are, the more the brain ignores them now. This fact can be exploited in composition to hide or reveal objects within the image space, giving or removing emphasis depending on the narrative you've set. Now, an obvious example of this can be seen in portraiture. As a wildlife photographer, I often photographed portraits of the animals I encounter. In those portraits. The emphasis is on the facial ch...

aracter and expressions of the subject. I'm not at all interested in the habitat or what's going on around my subject now. One technique I can use to isolate the animal from its environment is to blur the background. For example, For this image, I set a wide aperture to reduce depth of field. So when you look at it subconsciously, your attention is drawn to the sharp areas in the frame and everything else you ignore. The same physiological response would occur with a human portrait. Attention is drawn to the subject who stands out against the blurred background. The important subject is emphasized. The unimportant background is de emphasised. Now let's change the narrative for another scene. I want to create a sense of place. I want to show the animal in the context of its environment. In this composition, then animal and background share equal weighting in the narrative. Neither is more nor less important than the other to visualize this equality by increasing depth of field. In this case, by using a smaller aperture, I can make both the subject and the background sharp, so the person looking at the image gives their attention to both the animal and its environment. Using the same visual tool, you can also determine the order in which you reveal objects in the frame the further an object is from the subject you are focusing on, the more blood it gets. In this case, attention will shift from the sharpest object to the next, sharpest to the most blurred in that order. Now let's see how that can alter the narrative. In this image, your attention hones in on the young lad in the foreground. He is the central character, and we wonder what his conversation might be about. Only later do we see the unhappy girl sitting in the background, but I can change the narrative here by changing the point of focus by focusing on the girl. The story changes. We now focus on her emotion rather than telephone conversation. Two almost identical pictures. But a slight shift in focus completely changes the story being told in photography, sharpness equals emphasis. Depth of field, which is controlled by lens. Aperture is a tool that allows you to define the role of the characters in the scene, human or otherwise, and how the plot of your story plays out in the mind of the viewer. It's an incredibly powerful tool in visual storytelling, and it can help transform a one dimensional account into a multidimensional thriller. While depth of field is influenced by focal length and camera subject distance, the principal tool for controlling depth of field is lens aperture, the smaller the aperture. That's the bigger numbers, the more depth of field you create. For example, F 16 gives you more depth of field than F 11, which gives you more depth of field than F eight and so on. You get maximum depth of field at the biggest numbers and the least depth of field at the smallest numbers. You'll also find a more detailed lesson in depth of field in part one of this series. Mastering your digital camera.

Class Description


  • See images with a creative eye.
  • Capture artistic photographs of the most popular subjects.
  • Choose the right lens and camera settings for the image you want to create.
  • Recognize and capture the “decisive moment”.
  • Add visual mood and emotion to your photographs.
  • Develop your own unique photographic style.
  • Find what inspires you and apply that inspiration to your image-making.
  • Fine-tune color, tone, and visual presence with easy-to-learn Adobe Lightroom adjustments.


Once you’ve mastered basic camera craft and photo-technique, what is the next step in advancing your photographic skillset? In this in-depth course, award-winner Chris Weston shares an approach to photography that has creativity at its heart, and reveals the secrets and professional techniques that will get you creating photographs that ‘sing’.

Taking you on a step-by-step journey, from vision to print, Chris shows you how to: tap into your natural creative instincts; ‘see’ much-photographed and everyday subjects with a unique vision; set a creative intention and get the camera to capture it authentically; and, with a few simple techniques, process superb print-ready photographs. Through ‘in-the-field’ examples and inspirational case studies, he reveals the nuances of composition that can make or break a photograph, and describes the creative tools that turn snapshots into stunning photographs good enough to adorn any wall.

Delivered in an easy-to-follow, down-to-earth style, using ‘real-life’ examples and ‘live’ tuition, this course builds on the practicalities of camera technique to equip you with the creativity and vision to see, capture and process compelling photographs time after time, whatever your camera or level of experience.


  • Beginners who want to create better photographs.
  • Intermediate photographers who want to refine their image-making and be more creative.
  • All photographers looking for inspiration and creativity.
  • Outdoor photographers interested in travel, landscape/cityscape, nature, sport, and wildlife photography.



I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

Charles Ewing

Fantastic course. Great photographer, teacher and storyteller!