If I had to give one main reason to explain why I am so fascinated by documentary photography, I would definitely say that it is one of the best ways to tell a story.
Please, allow me to share with you an example of a story I recently documented as well as some tips on how to use your camera for documentary purposes.
Every Wednesday morning, my son and I attend Prospect Park Free Forest School. It is a wonderful initiative: the idea behind it is to offer our children the opportunity to explore nature freely. For around 45 minutes, parents quietly follow their children around as they discover the woods and all its secrets. Then, we all gather, read a story, sing a song and share with the group what we have learned.
Last Wednesday was a hot day and we were a big group, but as we started exploring, my son, as well as two other boys, decided to take off. They ran down a hill, took a left on a quiet path and found the best treasure little boys could ever find: a GIANT PUDDLE.
My son, who is the youngest of the three boys, was a little bit slower. He arrived after the other two had already gotten quite dirty.
Here is the story as it unfolded:
I would love to share a few tips with you on how to best use the storytelling power of photography.
1. Tell your story from the beginning to the end.
It is important to remember that your story needs a beginning and an end. Our fun little puddle moment started with my son running after his friends and finding them at the end of the path jumping in the mud. It ended with him going away from the puddle.
2. Choose what type of narrator you want to be
As the photographer, you have to choose what type of narrator you want to be and from what standpoint you want to tell your story. I tried to tell the story from my son's eyes. He was a little bit more shy than his friends and did not jump in the puddle right away. He observed for a little while and then joined in the fun.
3. Offer different perspectives
Make sure to document your story from different angles so you can give your readers the impression that they are witnessing the scene with you.
4. Extra tip: print all the pictures of your story together
When I include a story in our photo albums, I always try to make sure I add all the images from this particular event. They make wonderful memories for your children to look at. You can then tell them the story, with all its details, from start to finish and read it the same way you would read a book.
If you also have some tips on how to best reveal the storytelling qualities of photography please share them in your comments, I would love to hear from you!