Telling stories with photographs

A few of my favourite things:

Photography ~ Writing ~ Being Outdoors

And just before Christmas I got to indulge in two of them. I hadn't used my 'proper' camera (Sony A7ii) for pleasure for a long while and was getting a little snap happy with my phone. I suddenly realised I was missing the feeling of clicking an actual shutter button, of dialling in settings and focusing with a quality lens. The perfect opportunity presented itself when the ladies in my yoga group (and Clive!) decided to a have a festive chilly dip. Although I would have loved to have joined them (honest!) I abstained on this occasion, so that I could capture the experience for them and tell it in images.

Top tip number 1 for telling stories with images: photograph something that you feel passionate about.

Your enthusiasm and passion will shine through your photographs. You will feel in tune with what is happening, be alert to the best moments and capture images that are filled with emotion and atmosphere.

The swimmers kept apologising for it keeping me out of the water, but honestly, I was in my happy place. Capturing shots like these make my heart sing!

Tip number 2: choose the right lens for the job.

A portrait lens (prime 50mm or 85mm) may have seemed the perfect choice for this, but I chose the 70-200mm because it let me shoot at a distance. It meant I could be more discreet - even though they knew I was there, I wanted them to forget so that I could get more candid shots. And no one wants a camera right in their face as they are struggling back into their underwear! The longer focal length also meant that I could get closer when they were in the water.

Don't be afraid to crop the image later to bring the subjects even closer.

Tip number 3: Remember this is a story.

Start at the beginning and shoot throughout. Keep shooting lots of frames and then select the best moments later. Our story began with the walk down to the lake and finished at a cafe. 

Watch out for little details that give the story colour (the tote bag with 'today I choose joy'), muddy feet, cosy socks, hot water bottles.

Tip number 4: Keep it real.

People love to pose, in groups and individually, and those shots are fun and great. But make sure that you get lots of candid, unposed, unguarded moments too, as they tell the full story, with the real emotions.

Tip number 5: always edit!

Candid shots can be messy, less well composed than you'd like, exposure may be a bit off, or colours affected by factors you didn't notice at the time. Learn how to use an editing app or programme and take the time to spruce up your photos. My apps / software of choice are Snapseed for a quick edit, Lightroom Mobile for a little more sophistication, or Lightroom Classic on the desktop for the full Monty.

I had enjoyed shooting this so much that I couldn't wait to get them onto the computer and do a full edit in Lightroom. You'd be amazed what a difference cropping can make to the composition and I used the new AI portrait presets to give everyone a little boost (we are all ladies of a certain age after all!). I try not to over do the portrait smoothing etc but just enough so that people will think it's a picture of them on a good day! 

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