Cranes in the Fire Mist Photograph by Scott Bourne

Copyright Scott Bourne 2009 - All Rights Reserved

The old saying goes; “A picture is worth 1000 words.” If that’s true, what words are your picture saying?

And if you think of your picture as a “story,” something I strongly advocate here regularly, it might help to PRE-construct the story and THEN get the picture.

Let’s start at the beginning. What is your story’s headline? What message does it scream? I like to think of this as caption or title first, shot second. It’s a technique I’ve used for years to great effect. I knew I was going to call my photograph “Cranes in the Fire Mist” more than ten years before I made it.

Next, what is the idea or the purpose of your story? Is it to impart wisdom, evoke emotion, share beauty, preserve posterity? Whatever the main idea is – it should be simple and easy to grasp. Photographically, that will translate to a clearly identifiable subject, etc.

You should also think of your audience. Is this story for the mother of the bride? Is it for the history museum or the textbooks? The audience for any given photograph should be factored into the story before you press the shutter. This will certainly help move the story to a successful resolution – and get you your 1000 words.

This is of course, just an exercise. But it’s an exercise that made me a better photographer and I hope it has that impact on you as well. When you’re stuck trying to figure out the next great photograph, give this a try. Send these ideas flashing through your mind before you press the shutter. Maybe then people really will be talking about your image long after you’re gone.

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