Focus on a Story with Your Photos

We all have a story to share, and as bloggers, we love sharing our stories. Some of us tend to lean toward visual inspiration and share our tales via photographs while others are gifted with words and the ability to write. But when photographs and words come together, it’s pure magic. Well, in my book anyway!

Think about it … many of us have a favorite children’s book that is filled with a combination of images and words. I still have a few of those books from my childhood tucked away in storage. And then there’s my collection of cookbooks. I love cookbooks but rarely buy one without a healthy dose of tantalizing food photos to accompany the recipes. But my favorite is a beautiful coffee table book filled with stunning photography taking me on a visual adventure.

Storytelling with photographs is all about the images with just enough words to enhance the story.

This is the road to our summer/fall home.

Visual storytelling with photographs

The photographs we share depend largely on how we want to tell the story. As someone who enjoys travel in an RV, the majority of my photographs, and thus my stories, are centered around the places we visit along with my personal experiences and thoughts. There’s an excitement to traveling, to seeing new sights, meeting new people, having new experiences, and capturing those moments and memories is important to me. The ability to share them with you is a bonus! ๐Ÿ˜

When I think about my adventures and how I want to preserve a memory and how I might want to share a story, I keep a few thoughts in mind …

5 Elements to help tell a story.

  • Idea: what, where, when?
  • Plan: execution, how?
  • Memory: preservation, what do I want to remember most?
  • Emotion: feeling, sentiment, how does it make me feel?
  • Narration: words to complement the images and help deliver the story.

It doesn’t matter what kind of camera we use to capture our story. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite recent fall photographs was taken quickly with my iPhone. Al and I had gone on a scenic drive and stopped to explore a national forest campground on Lake Namekagon in northern Wisconsin. It was a gorgeous fall day, and I was easily distracted by the beautiful autumn colors. While Al strolled back to the truck, I ventured down a trail.

Knowing Al would be waiting for me (patiently) and realizing we still had several more places to visit, I was rushed, but I felt compelled to capture snippets of my experience. Without much thought, I pointed the iPhone … click to the left, click to the right, click up high, click down low, time to go! Regrettably, my Panasonic stayed slung across my body.

Trust your instincts when capturing the moment. Try not to overthink the composition … unless your goal is for professional reasons or a wall hanger, in which case you’ll want to pull out the good camera, tripod, and spend some time composing. But for storytelling, go with your gut and capture what makes you happy at that moment … it’s your story.

hiking trail with fall leaves on the ground
This is one of my favorite photos taken this past September.

Memory / Emotion: The image above evokes a calming joy within me and that’s exactly how I felt strolling through those leaves, and for some reason, those leaves almost looked like rose petals guiding me further into the forest. Whenever I look at this photograph, I’m reminded of the wonderful autumn day that I shared with my husband. I realize the way the image impacts me is unique to me personally.

I’m curious though … how does the image make YOU feel? What does it say to you? Perhaps you don’t even care for the photo, and that’s ok, but the photograph is part of my visual story from that day.

Idea / Plan: The whole reason for us to remain in northern Wisconsin into October was so I could capture autumn foliage. So with that in mind, I set about planning where I wanted to go. For three weeks, starting in mid-September, whenever the weather was agreeable, I was off in search of color.

Scenery along the way!

I was rewarded with stunning colors in all directions. Sometimes I was able to pull off to the side of the road and snap some photos and other times I wasn’t so lucky, in which case I would have to savor those views in my memory. I knew when I planned these photo outings that I’d want to share my tales here on the blog. Therefore, I made mental notes and had an idea of what kind of images I wanted to capture to help tell my story … visual storytelling.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Narration: Years ago, long before personal computers, the internet, and digital photography ๐Ÿ˜ต, I was into scrapbooking. I have about three large storage containers filled with photo albums. I treasure those albums, but when I recently started flipping through one, I noticed the lack of narration. Writing has never come easy to me and that was more apparent than ever when reviewing that photo album.

Oh, how I wish I had shared more information about the photographs, about the events, about the places and people. Even though a picture may be worth a thousand words, adding additional information via words will enhance any story. Besides, there’s a little storytelling in all of us.

Color was seen everywhere!

Hopefully, I’ve offered a few tips that might help you focus on your own storytelling via photography. If interested, here is one of my favorite tales where I take my readers on a hike at the incredible Kasha-Katuwee Tent Rocks.

Do you have a favorite visual story?

I loved the tiny island with the colorful trees in the distance.
blue and pink sunset over a lake with ducks
Beautiful ending to a beautiful day!

Photo Challenges: This week for Sunday Stills, Terri asks us to share photographs of leaves. Another photo challenge is from Patti – Lens-Artists #121 Focus on the Subject. As opposed to focusing my camera on something specific, I chose storytelling as my subject to focus on.

Thank you for shopping my affiliate links. โคAs an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Compact Tripod
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74 thoughts on “Focus on a Story with Your Photos

  1. I so identify with your comment about scrapbooks! My husband and I used to collect all sorts of momentos on our trips and I would carefully stick them in a scrapbook, along with some photos, but beyond a very brief label I wrote nothing. Since I discovered blogging (on various platforms in the past, now on WP) I find that the very act of writing about our adventures helps to fix them in my memory. My husband is often amazed at the details I remember about the places we have visited but I know it’s down to having written about them some place ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. I believe every capture brings out a different story. The emotions of the photographer, the sound of nature at that given point in time, or maybe the company one is in while capturing, all these bring out different and interesting words! Having said that, beautifully explained how pictorial stories can be so intriguing.

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  3. Those leaves in one of your favorite photos resemble rose petals to me as well, Ingrid. While Iโ€™m usually a fan of brighter photos and blue skies, that one sets a more contemplative mood. As always, I can see your passion for photography in many of the images!

    I believe that when a photo โ€œtells more than a thousand wordsโ€, it is the photographer who nudges the viewer towards what those words might be, based on the way the it has been taken. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. We enjoyed such a great day on our leaf peeping tour, and I managed to take a bunch a beautiful images, but for some reason that particular photo resonates with me the most. Perhaps it is the mood of the image that captured my mood. Hmm, not sure! But I do plan on printing that one. ๐Ÿ˜€

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  4. Your photos barely need any words. You take some amazing photos Ingrid, almost all are worthy of being in a book to grace our coffee table. I particularly loved the photo of the hay bales through the car window.

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    1. Awe thank you Chris. The landscape made it easy to capture beautiful images. Fortunately, the scenery and the camera did all the work for me without much work on my part. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t admit that ๐Ÿ˜†

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  5. Sometimes when we travel around I forget about taking photos. That’s kind of a good thing but then later when I want to tell the story of where we have been it seems to be lacking without photos. And then there are times when I know that I will want to tell a story and I have to remember to take photos of all the little things that don’t seem so interesting at the time but might bind the story together later. And sometimes I have to decide which photos to leave out because I have too many.

    Your photos are always lovely. We were going to Tent Rocks last year but the area was closed when we were there. Thanks for taking me there with your pics. We will have to make a point of going there again.

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    1. Haha! I can see your dilemma when it comes to photography. I think most of us can relate.
      Yeah, unfortunately, all Navajo land remains closed and in New Mexico we noticed all the casinos are still closed as well. Even though closed, RVers were still allowed to overnight in the parking lots at most of them along I-40. Kasha-Katuwe and Bandelier National Monument both exceeded my expectations.

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    1. Thank you so much! The first time I drove by that field, I made a mental note to pull off the side of the road, and fortunately, there was plenty of room in just the right spot. The colors were so vibrant. ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‚๐Ÿ

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  6. I can so relate to your post. I started with a love of reading and then added photography as a hobby. I ended up with photo albums and scrapbooks, however; there was a lack of content, narration, and storytelling. Hence why I ventured into blogging as well as social media. I was thinking over the last month that I wish I had more time to blog and have been getting out to photograph. I finally realized I just need to make the time for the creative, the fun, the enjoyment, etc. again. Happy Day – Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. At least you’re getting out with the camera. When I sit looking at a blank screen (happens a lot), I imagine having coffee with a friend and then telling that friend about my day out with the camera. Sometimes that’s the only way I can write out a blog post. Hope life has calmed down somewhat for you. It sure hasn’t for my SIL in WI in the county health dept. Crazy times.๐Ÿ

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      1. It has calmed down a bit, however; I think I am finally finding my groove. The Midwest is surging as well as here with cases again. I am sure your SIL is in full speed or even in Mach 90 most days. Sending her good vibes and hugs and thanks for all she is doing ๐Ÿ™‚ Take Care and Be Safe.

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        1. Glad to hear you can breath. My SIL hasn’t been so lucky, but fortunately, she’ll be getting a break next week when she comes to Phoenix for a week. The poor gal has been overworked and stressed so this’ll be a nice reprieve.๐Ÿ˜Š

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    1. Awe, thank you Donna. I so wish I had added more narration in my scrapbooks from years ago. I guess, live and learn, and now I’m doing a better job with preserving our memories so our kids don’t have to ask too many questions.๐Ÿ

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  7. Wonderful post, Ingrid. I love your thoughts on storytelling and the images you have chosen which highlight the beautiful fall colors in Wisconsin. Absolutely gorgeous. I am especially drawn to your image taken from the car and your last image. Beautiful!

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  8. Fantastic Nature photos from the other side of the world. yes I’ve used story telling with family photographs in pre school classes. Do visit my blog and travel to markets with me…there is always a story waiting there..if we find one!

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  9. Exceptionally stunning photos, again, Ingrid. You are right about the combination of photographs and words, โ€œpure magicโ€ memorable and we want to read over and over again. I highly agree with the 5 elements you highlight here. I wonder how many people think about โ€œEmotion.โ€ As I read further, I see how you discuss Memory/Emotion. I loved everything about this post. Thank you for sharing the beauty and your memories along with the photos.๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. You are very welcome Erica. That autumn foliage was so inspirational. There appeared to be a photo composition in all directions. The beauty of my surroundings seemed to jump into the camera and now that I’m back in the desert southwest, I’m struggling with inspiration, composition, and travel tales. Ah, such is life, huh!

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  10. Yes….Probably our month long driving trip to Alaska and up to Prudhoe Bay in 2002. We didn’t own a camper yet and I planned it myself all the way, using Milepost Magazine… One of our favorite trips ever!!

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    1. Hi Donna, I remember you mentioning that trip. Sounds fantastic and very memorable. Interesting how some of our favorite experiences are done on a shoestring with no fancy gear.

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    1. Thanks, I knew once the leaves turned a burnt brown that they wouldn’t remain on the trees much longer … our cue to head south before the snow started flying. Although the snow offers its own unique beauty, it’s not conducive for RV living.

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    1. I can so relate. We’ve spent the last several years in parts of the US where there isn’t much color change. So I really enjoyed being immersed in the colorful fall foliage.

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  11. Ingrid, You always do a fabulous job with your pictures. I am fascinated by the way you continue to capture water as still as glass–the swimming ducks barely created a ripple in the beautiful shot above. As for the tip of the week…”don’t overthink the composition.” Guilty as heck! Have a great week! Joe

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    1. The still glassy water is all about the time of day. Early in the morning and near sunset seem to be the best times for no wind. No wind is the key. I take some of my best shots on the fly. When I overthink the process and put a lot of thought and effort into a photo, I’m rarely happy. Thus, trust your gut!

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    1. You were my inspiration for using my phone more frequently. I love going on photo excursions with other photo enthusiasts. I always learn something new and I sure did on our outings here in Phoenix.

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  12. I loved the color in Scenery along the way shot. Beautiful. I often take photos and a story pops into my mind. This is sometimes referred to as ekphrasis. For this week’s challenge I created a very short story based on leaf pictures. ๐Ÿ Thanks for your tips.

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    1. Well, I just learned a new word. Might have to use ‘ekphrasis’ next time I play Balderdash ๐Ÿ˜„. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’ll be heading over to your site soon.

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  13. Ingrid, you do such a good job storytelling with your photos in all of you posts. I always enjoy your photos AND your narration. I love all the images you have included here, especially the photo with the leaves leading you into the forest. To me, it has a fairy tale quality that I love.

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    1. Thank you, Beth. “Fairy tale quality” … perhaps that’s why I love that photo so much. I wish I had taken the same image with my camera cause I’d love to print it. I did print this one, but I’m not happy with the resolution. Grrr, that’s why I have a camera and don’t rely on the phone ๐Ÿ˜ Lesson learned!

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    1. So nice to hear from you, Judy. Sounds like you’ll be heading out this way for a spell. We now have an annual lot at the far north end of Phoenix. So, we’ll be here all winter. Keep us posted on your whereabouts. Would love to reconnect!

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  14. Beautiful post and photos! That photo in the forest made me think about being on the cusp of inevitable change. The long grass still showing vigor, but the leaves nestled amongst the grass blades tell us that it’s time for a change and the grass will wither into dormancy, the leaves will cover the ground, the trees will stand bare-limbed, and soon after that it will all be covered in a snowy blanket and go to sleep for the winter. Thanks for the inspiration ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. You are very welcome, and oh yes, change was definitely in the air and we left just in time. A week after we pulled out of our spot, six inches of snow replaced the RV ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Weather in Phx has been up and down from the 90’s to the 60’s. I’ll take it, plus great sleeping weather.

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  15. Beautiful post Ingrid with some excellent pointers. I must disagree with one thing tho. You say you wish you’d included more information to enhance your images. NO, NO NO. Your images definitely tell their own story, no enhancement needed. This way the reader can interpret them with their own stories!! Your images are wonderful, I especially like the way you included the rear view mirror in that image.

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    1. Thank you Tina for your thoughts and compliment. I do like the idea of the viewer interpreting the images and story in their own personal way. I appreciate the enlightenment ๐Ÿ˜€

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