Stories & Composition...

by Pino Pino May. 12, 2019 804 views

In a photography group that I follow, how to answer the question "what do you shoot" came up.

As one person responded, some photographers fit neatly into a box... be it portraits, weddings, landscapes, etc. The premise, though, is that most of us specifically do not quite so neatly fit in one specific box.

As it happens, I have answered this question for people already so I feel I have a pretty good grasp on my what and why... stories and composition.

I photograph stories.

I photograph whatever I see that tells me a story... people, animals, plants, rocks, structure, machines, tools, shadows, books... whatever.
When I see a story that interests me I photograph it.

I photograph composition.

Light and shadow...
Form and texture...
To me, good composition means distilling down to, and capturing, the core visual elements of what I see that truly tell the story - the elements that make what I see beautiful and interesting to me.

Someone made the point that this may, understandably, not make sense to a non-photographer.

My answer...

I choose one image and tell the person its story.

Sometimes I do it in person, sometimes I do it in my blog, and sometimes I do it simply with a short quote imposed into the image itself.

Usually it only takes telling someone one story of one photo - then they get it.

And then, my hope is, they go out and begin to see all the amazing stories all around them.

I admit, this particular perspective is likely because I am also a prolific book collector - so 'stories' and 'perspective' (or composition) are sort at the very core of who I am.

I can offer many examples of this simply by referring you to my other blogs, but I have one particular that stood out in my minds as I was writing this.

I hope I don't screw this up - it is actually my job to know some of this... ;)

The photo below (same image twice - color and b/w) was taken on the campus where I work. It is of St. Teresa of Avila (the quill & book and the bird identify her pretty handily) - who was actually part of a reform that, in simple terms, split in two the religious Order I work for.

It happens that this statue of her stands in front of a Shrine to another said, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who was part of the 'original' order (again, speaking in simple terms here so don't be offended that, for this simple blog, I'm speaking in grand generalities if you know the whole story.)

The point being that her in the foreground and the "bokeh'd" Shrine, and even the way the cloud more distinctly impacts the visual of the cross in the b/w version, in the background remind me of the entire story.

I am not trying to imply malice between the two saints or even the 'old' and 'new' (again, very general terms here) divisions of the Order... the details of the history are not for a quick little blog on photography to tackle.

The elements... the composition... light and shadow - form and texture... enter my mind visually, move with ease to exactly the areas where the elements of the full story are archived, and instantaneously appear to me fully formed.

Some images speak the same story that clearly to every viewer.

More often, I think, each image speaks a slightly different (perhaps very different) story to each viewer.

And that's okay.

I captured the image because of the story it brought to me...

But if you enjoy a completely different story that it brings to you then I am happy to have been able to be a part of helping you see that story.

So now I offer you the question that was posed to me in that group... exactly as it was presented...

How do you describe the style of photography that you are into?
Be it what you shoot or what you enjoy looking at.

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There are 2 comments , add yours!
Berckmans Peter 1 year, 4 months ago

I shoot a bit if this and that. What triggers my interest. Started again after many years with architecture,what I still like. And it has to be fun.

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Pino Pino Replied to Berckmans Peter 1 year, 4 months ago

Agreed - Definitely has to be fun!  ;)

1 year, 4 months ago Edited