Xpert Advice: Telling More Effective Stories Through Depth of Field

One of the most effective ways to tell stories in your images is to use depth of field. It’s a cinematic technique filmmakers have been using for years and years. The fundamental way story telling has worked is by having very specific things in focus for the viewer to pay attention to. This isn’t only a cinematic technique though, it’s also one that photographers have been using for years. It goes all the way back to the film days when photographers were using Fujifilm Astia, Velvia, Acros and other emulsions to tell their stories.

Fujifilm X photographers that own lenses with fast apertures will have a simpler time doing this. At the same time though, there isn’t a major reason to stop down Fujifilm’s lenses because they’re very sharp wide open. Some of the best lenses to do this with are Fujifilm’s prime lenses like the 16mm f1.4, 23mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4, and the 90mm f2. Coupled with the X Trans Sensor’s ability to render images that look very film-like and with great colors, this will be a piece of cake when it comes to the technical aspects of photography. Just shoot wide open and get close to your subjects.

Then there is the whole storytelling factor: some of the best photo editors in the world tell journalists that the story they’re shooting always needs to be present in their images. When trying to work on photo essays, there are a number of photos that are very important:

  • The intimate: showing off personal and emotional moments between people
  • The newsworthy: something that people just don’t see every day
  • The establishing shot: tells us exactly where we are. Going for just images of buildings can be weak. For example, telling the story for a family documentary gig at a restaurant could work more effectively by simply photographing them going for the food
  • The detail shot: obviously, close up details that are important
  • The closing shot: just a photo that ends the story

This can be tough to do and may require you to move around searching for various angles at all times. But whatever you do, get close. The images then tend to feel more personal and the creative use of depth of field tells us where to pay attention.

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