Xpert Advice: How to Tell a Story with a Camera

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm Xpert Advice Telling a story with a camera (1 of 1)ISO 2001-250 sec

For the photojournalist, telling a story with a camera requires careful attention to the scenes and building a series of photos that always stick to the point. Though each story is very individual to their own ends, there are images that are essential to any sort of documentary or photojournalistic story. Some of those are:

  • Establishing shot: to tell us where all of this is taking place
  • Cover shot: doesn’t at all have to be the first photo, but it needs to be the single strongest photo of the series that makes someone really want to pay attention to it.
  • Detail shot: photos of close details such as hands, objects, etc.
  • Closing shot: the image that ties everything together in the end and closes the story. Doesn’t necessarily need to be the last photo that you’ve taken.

This is why photojournalists who use Fujifilm cameras will probably reach for the company’s 16-55mm f2.8 R WR and a 50-140mm f2.8 R WR lens. Alternatively, Fujifilm’s 23mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4, and 16mm f1.4 are all solid choices for storytelling. These lenses also let a photographer make use of creative story telling techniques such as depth of field (bokeh.) More of these can be found in the Phoblographer’s guide to Fujifilm lenses.

When working for newspapers or wires, you’re most likely going to be shooting a lot of filler images that help tell the story. Whatever you do, just make sure that they help keep the flow of the story moving. Also be sure to provide captions for each image that help an editor tell what’s happening. That way, if they need to make the appropriate crops to make the images stronger, they’ll know what to focus on. With Fujifilm cameras, you can even start to send images right to your phone and upload them to the company’s Instagram if they give you the permission and you’ve built that level of trust with them.

The images that will really sell your story are ones that involve intimate moments, emotional moments (as in eliciting an emotion out of someone immediately when they see the image) and the newsworthy–i.e. the most important moments of it all.

Be sure to keep these in mind when you head out to photograph your next local story or big documentary project. And always remember: stick to the story!

Xpert Advice is a monthly collaboration between the Phoblographer and Fujifilm designed to teach you photography tips and tricks in a bite-sized package.