We have all had that feeling of capturing a photograph and feeling that it did not truly represent what we saw or experienced at that time. This is because the way we experience the world extends beyond that single frame. We cannot capture the smell of the grass, the sound of laughter, the way the air felt on our skin or the warmth of the sun on our face. But there are ways to convey these experiences through images.
It will be an impossible task to make a complete manual for that in this project. Besides, there is no single right way to do something in photography (and many other things too!) especially considering the fact that each of us will be telling a different story, through different lenses.
Ultimately, it will be up to your individual research and interaction with co-researchers and coordinators, along with constant practice that will help the most in effective storytelling.
Case by case basis
Photographer and Fathers in Focus Lead Artist Nwel Saturay will be available throughout the project to assist and guide in specific cases should you get stuck or simply need someone to bounce ideas with. Feel free to get in touch!
Choosing the right tools
A popular saying within the photography community holds true for Fathers in Focus: the best camera is the camera that you have with you. In this article we will cover a few tips that might help you start photographing and developing your story.
Regardless of the camera that you choose to use, these are general guidelines that you might find helpful in effectively telling your story. For beginners, it is a good advice to photograph your subjects in multiple angles or composition.
- Light – Observe how light interacts with your subject. In photography, light has the biggest influence in how your subjects look. Our eyes are naturally attracted to the brightest points of a scene. Generally speaking, one of the most common and readily techniques to to help viewers focus on a specific detail in a photograph is to put it in the brightest light.
- Framing – Often, what is not in the picture is just as important as what is in the picture. Be mindful not only of the objects and details that are in your frame, but also what are not.
- Composition – Shooting from different angles can also dramatically change the look and even the message you want to show. For example, shooting a subject from a low angle can evoke a sense of power. There are many articles out there that can aid you in effective storytelling through composition.
Shooting with your phone
Camera phones certainly have their limitations, but they do come with the unmatched advantage of being the most readily available camera that we have in any given moment. While dedicated and larger cameras such as DSLRs and mirrorless cameras might offer the best image quality, they are not necessarily the best tools for every occasion.
For those using smartphones in this project, here are some tips that will help you overcome some of the limitations that it presents.
- Light, light, light. Even the most modern phones struggle with capturing quality images in darker environments. Try to take pictures where there is sufficient light hitting your subject.
- If you must take pictures in situations with insufficient light, try your best to keep your camera as steady as possible. In low-light situations, your phone will automatically slow its shutter speed down, therefore unwanted movements will be visible in your image.
- Exposure Compensation. Smartphones automatically adjust the exposure depending on the scene to what it thinks is best and neutral. However, especially in scenes with high contrast (or huge difference between the dark and the bright parts of a scene), your phone might try to do the opposite of what you want (think of silhouettes). Since every phone out there is slightly different, you may need to search the internet on how to use Exposure Compensation in your specific device.
- Zoom in with your feet. When taking pictures of close ups, move in closer to your subject instead using your phone to “zoom in.” While some smartphones now use multiple lenses to aid in quality when zooming in, most still relies on doing this artificially, which simply crops the picture and enlarges the pixels to fit the frame.
- When transferring or sharing images, especially if you intend to print them, you want to use the highest quality available. As a general rule, using messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp or Viber must be avoided as these apps will resize and reduce the size of your images. Learn about the optimal and best practice to send your photos here.
Privacy and Ethical Responsibilities
In Storytelling & Photography, we talked about the role and power of our stories and images. This power can encourage positive change, but may also cause harm, even if we do not intend it. Please take time to read this article and learn how we can minimize, if not completely avoid unintended harm that we may cause.