Monday, June 13, 2011

Photo tip: Tell your story better with photos

We've all seen it, maybe even been guilty of it. We've looked through a scrapbook or a collection of photos and every photo is the same: a series of smiling faces looking at the camera. Each page looks like the next.

font: LD Fresh Air, lavender in background: DB Herb Garden

Although it's nice to see familiar faces, what stories do these photos tell? Do they remind us of the experiences we had? Is this the best way for us to capture our memories?

I don't think it is.

I remember visiting my sister one holiday and leafing through her photo album on the coffee table. I started as a casual observer, but quickly became engrossed as I feasted through a year of her life in pictures. Why was it so exciting to look through this book of mostly strangers and places I didn't know? I complimented her and her exciting life, and then she told me something that's stuck with me ever since. She said, the key to making photo albums interesting is to have a three-way balance of subject matter, typically 1/3 people, 1/3 locations and 1/3 things.

This seemed so simple! That's it? That's all you did to make your stories more exciting through photos? Yup. So let's dissect this a little.

1/3 People

Let's face it, photos of people are fun to look at. Especially children! However, taking photos of smiling faces over and over again doesn't tell a very good story. Yes, a few smiling faces here and there are good, but also take some candid shots, some action shots, and some goofy shots. It's also totally fine to mix categories. Want a view of Mt. Rushmore with your kids in front of it? Ta da! You've covered two categories of subject matter with one photo.

1/3 Locations

This is definitely the category I forget about most, but gosh it makes a big difference in setting the story. Such little things like a shot of the back-yard, an overview of the farmers market, the gorgeous nature view on your hike, or that historic building you visited set the stage and help you tell (and remember) the whole story.

I especially like the impact of different weather and time of day. A photo of a hill with fresh snow before the kids sled down it, what an exciting prospect it was! The sun setting on the lake shore where you had a campout, remember the relaxing peace. You get the picture... or at least I hope you will.

1/3 Things

This category can be really fun and tell so much about your interests. In my personal life narrative, food is oh, so important. Close up shots of what I make or eat are a fun part of my memory books. Some other ideas include cars, toys, animals, flowers... the list can go on and on. Just think of what you're doing, what interests you, what tells your story and even the most mundane objects can become exciting chapters in your photo album. In my father's photo album, he has pictures of furniture when my parents were first married. Now, 40 years later, it's so fun to see the colors and decor they had so early in their life together!

Taking this balance into mind, I made a two-page spread of an outing with my daughter. There are six photos total, but I tried to balance the above categories in them.

font: LD Fresh Air, lavender in background: DB Herb Garden

It's really exciting to see the story told almost exclusively in pictures! Of course, a little journaling always is nice.

What do you think? Do you have favorite ways to tell your stories?

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Ann @ I blog, therefore I am. said...

What a great tip! And so simple.

nativetexangirl said...

I loved reading your tip and your 2 page spread was great. Thanks for sharing.

gwood said...

I have tried to download your file for the Halloween lanterns and it says that the file is empty. Could it be sent to me? They are so cute. Thanks