Learn why taking images that tell stories is an effective and meaningful way for photographers to connect with the world.

Now more than ever before, photographers are creating and taking images that tell stories. What does telling a story through photography look like? It’s taking an image that impacts the viewer. It’s creating an image that evokes a certain feeling. Perhaps it’s a feeling of remembrance, or a memory forgotten. An image has real power to evoke change in a viewer.

More images are being shared and purchased online than ever before. The popularity of social apps such as Instagram never seems to dwindle. So, as photographers we need to step up our game and take images that tell stories, not just pretty pictures.

Images by Goran Bogecivec

How incredible is it that through photography, a photographer can change someone’s world perspective?

You have real influence by clicking the shutter and sharing an image with your audience. It’s time to bring the soul back into photography.

If you’re anything like me, you grew up scouring National Geographic magazines for inspiration. You awed at picture books, and made notes of the places and people around the world that you wanted to meet. Seeking a cultural connectedness to places we have never seen before is what inspires us to create.

Why Taking Images That Tell Stories Is Important for Photographers — Rice Fields
Image by saravut pics

In this article, we’re going to share a few tips on how to create images that tell stories. Not just merely moments captured, but true representative images that reflect the world around us.

4 Tips on Taking Images That Tell Stories

Tip #1: Engage with the people and places you are photographing.

There is a monumental difference between observing a moment, and being part of the moment. That difference shows in the images you capture. While photographers can absolutely shoot with a long lens and get close detail shots of subjects, getting up close and personal will almost always get the better shot.

Why Taking Images That Tell Stories Is Important for Photographers — Amazonian Shaman Blowing Smoke
Image by Ammit Jack

If you are traveling somewhere new and observing a cultural celebration, introduce yourself. Attempt to greet the locals in their local language, rather than divert to the language you’re most comfortable in. Respectfully ask permission to shoot, and become a part of the moment. Laugh with the locals, and strike up conversations or share glances at special moments.

Why Taking Images That Tell Stories Is Important for Photographers — Novice Monks with Lanterns
Image by SantiPhotoSS

When trying to take images that tell stories, developing a sense of intimacy between you and the subject will almost always wield a stronger photograph. It’s the difference between being a tourist and becoming a traveller.

Tip #2: Capture the in-between moments

Storytelling through photography is all about capturing an experience in its entirety. It’s not about showing up at a sunset, taking an image off the pier, and walking away to your next destination. It’s about spotting the moments in-between.

Why Taking Images That Tell Stories Is Important for Photographers — Man and Dog Laughing
Image by Benevolente82

A moment in-between can be a passing kid with an ice cream cone dripping over their hand as they run past you. It can be as simple as a ripple in the ocean below. Or a beautiful type-face on a taco stand nearby. Capturing these in-between moments offers a truly unique image regardless of where you are shooting. Follow your eye to the subjects that capture your attention, and take a second to compose and shoot a detail image.

Why Taking Images That Tell Stories Is Important for Photographers — Pink Building
Image by Alexsey Stiop

When you look back at your images, these are the images that will put you in that place and remind you of why you were there in the first place.

Tip #3: Capture images that stir conversations

As photographers, we’re responsible for sharing images that introduce ideas and inspire. Photography is one of the most powerful global languages available to us, a language that everyone can interpret in their own way.

Images by Galina Zhigalova

Photography has the power to really move change. We are responsible to share images that showcase environmental awareness such as plastic pollution, beach cleans, and receding glaciers. The power is in our hands to evoke change and stir conversations.

Your photography is your voice to the world. As photographers, it’s our responsibility to continue to challenge the status quo. Customers at Shutterstock can’t purchase authentic images that tell stories if our photographers aren’t uploading them. Think outside the box, and start creating and sharing the images you want to be seen around the world.

Why Taking Images That Tell Stories Is Important for Photographers — Senior Woman Diver
Image by Jacob Lund

Tip #4: Photograph more daily life, and less stylized poses

Now more than ever, we are connected to individuals around the world through photography. With a click of a button, you can share an image with global audiences. I don’t know about you, but when I scroll my Instagram feed I don’t just want to see professional, stylized shots. I want to see authentic images of daily life.

Why Taking Images That Tell Stories Is Important for Photographers — Girl Looking Out Window
Image by Benevolente82

Authenticity develops intimacy. When you can picture how that subject interacts with their daily surroundings. A well-photographed subject should be an introduction into who that person is. Whether it’s an image of a grandmother cooking for her family or a passing mom dragging her child by her heels in frustration, these are the moments that not only tell their stories, but provide viewers with captured moments they can relate to.

Images by Jacob Lund

When it comes to stock, daily life photos are selling. Photographs that show a true, representative view of the world are what companies can use to tell their own stories. Photographers should prioritize images that aren’t just happy, but instead create images that evoke a variety of feelings.

We hope these tips help you in your goal of taking images that tell stories. At Shutterstock and Offset, we encourage our community to share images that show a true, diverse, representative world. We can’t wait to see what you upload next.

Featured image by saravut pics.

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