What Kind of Story?


untitled (55 of 89)


Back again from an another photography trip, this time to Lake Superior, Minnesota.  What a difference a couple of hundred miles make on the landscape.  I drove up from my home and had a 9 hour drive to get there and I new immediately when I entered Minnesota.  The beauty is in the trees all lush and green after emerging from winter into spring.  Instead of miles and miles of crop land dotted by the homes, Minnesota is miles and miles of trees dotted by the homes.

Mark Peterson the instructor for this workshop said something I will remember.  “What kind of story are you trying to tell with this shot.”  Hmm.  I have heard this said several times and mainly brushed it off, but this time it stuck.  Mark is an excellent photographer and knows how to tell a story with the camera.  Basically, as a professional, it is what he does for clients all over the world.  He tells their story for product or scene.   What is a story really but how we see things and how we communicate them.

I connect to the landscape on an emotional level.  Nature relaxes me and gives me a sense of peace whether by the water or up in the mountains.  I recognize that I feel outside the nature around me because I am not living in that world everyday.  When I go into nature I just want to capture the beauty of what I see and translate that into the photo.  Truly, the telling of a story from a place and time that will not be the same tomorrow.  I have taken many pictures around the world and I realize that none can be repeated.  One moment for one story in one location.

     “What kind of Story are you trying to tell?”

You might say, “Oh please, that is just words.”  Like I used to say.  But the next time you rush out to take a shot of something, I want you to stop.  Think!  What am I trying to say with this shot?  Whether you like it or not you are connected to that work.  When people look at your pictures they will see a piece of you and what you are trying to communicate.  If all you see is the beauty in the environment then take a picture that reflects what you see. They don’t want to see a blurry, badly exposed photo because you were in a hurry.  They want to see what made you stop and take the photo in the first place.

What do you see?  Every life has a story and our eyes look for things to show the story.  Train your eyes to see the little things, big things, sunset and sunrise.  The more you notice life in the world around you the more you will be able to see things that others miss.

What kind of story are you telling?  Does the story have drama, peace, motion and emotion.  Whatever it is that makes you carry the camera around with you that is the shot you should be taking.  Just be sure to enjoy what you are doing.

Then, take the shot. Don’t overthink it.


Just take the Shot!


I am back from a trip to Lake Superior and it was a 3 day whirlwind.  We were up at 3:30 am to take dawn shots and still going at 10 pm.  Trips like this are long and make me question my drive to be a photographer.  The lack of sleep effects my personality and I get worn down.  I made it though and the 9 hour drive back home with the help of caffeine.  What did I notice on this trip?

On every trip I take I pick up a piece of advice from the professional that I am with.  Sometimes I agree with what they are doing and others times I don’t.  But, most of the time I find something that clicks with how I want to take photography.  I also notice how everyone works around me and how they flow.  I try not to be complicated myself about taking a shot.  When I was with Glenn Campbell from Lightstalkers he said, “I only take three to four shots and move on.”  This little piece of advice really stuck with me because I notice people get stuck in one spot with their tripod.  I look around a lot when I am at a location to see shots.  You can’t see other shots if you only look in one direction all of the time.  I think of what I would have missed if I would do that.

I notice other photographers struggle to set and then struggle to compose.  They fiddle with their cameras and take forever to take a shot.  “Just take the Shot.”  Really, we are in the digital world and if you make a mistake you can learn from it.  I took many shots in the beginning that were just plain wrong.  I still take shots that don’t work but I try anyway so I can look at it on the screen when I get home.  I learn from my mistakes just as well as my successes.  Am I a Pro? No.  Am I working to be a better photographer? Yes.  And that is what we all seek.

My best advice is to not to be afraid of making a mistake.  I look at a lot of other peoples work to see what I like and what I don’t.  I try and try again.  However, I don’t try to get bogged down by worrying about the perfect shot.  I also realize that I must learn to do it my way and not someone else’s  way.  I have to learn what works best for me.  So, my best advice is to take photo’s to make yourself happy.  Yes, it is nice when people like them but it is more important that you like them.

The above shot is taken in Lake Superior while everyone else was looking up river.  I turned around and saw the shot behind me.  I noticedthat most people only look one way on the river, for a shot, a long time ago.  Well, I don’t want the shot everyone has and so I look for the shot most people don’t even see.  Try it next time and see what you see that others don’t.