I was in a meeting about social video the other day—an R&D guy in a marketing meeting, I’m no expert compared to the others in the room.
We talked about traits of good and bad videos. One of our Audio/Visual experts talked about how good videos had a beginning, a middle, and an end. I agree with this statement to the extent that good videos tell good stories, and good stories always need a beginning, middle, and end.
As a still photographer, I am constantly striving for an image that tells a full story. An image that doesn’t need an explanation—something powerful that tells its own story, and even captures in a single scene what happened before and what happened after.
And like most photographers, I don’t usually succeed at that.
I immediately thought of the image above, from the Grand Canyon. (Kodak E-6 100-speed film, Nikon F100, 1/40s f/3.2, Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 lens)
It shows Zoroaster and Brahma Temples in the fading sunset light. Smoke from a forest fire near Cape Royal is blowing westward, and is lifted by the thermals coming up Bright Angel Canyon, settling again as the smoke reaches the Kaibab Plateau.
I like the image because it tells a story… a bit about a forest fire, geography, geology, and weather.
I showed it once as a 12”x18” print to Jim Steinberg, a professional photographer in Colorado. I told him the story behind the image, and what I thought was beautiful and interesting about it. Politely, he suggested that the image wasn’t very strong and that it did not, in fact, tell its own story. It only became interesting when I was there to tell the story.
Of course, Jim was right. That was good feedback. I needed to hear it.
I still like the photograph. I still like the story that goes with it.
This blog lets me put words around my photographs. As some of my friends know, I like to write.
I’m about to leave for a two-week trip to the western United States. (Nevada, California, and Oregon, at least.) I hope to publish on this blog frequently during the trip, with photos, short videos, and the stories around them. Stay tuned.
You can also follow me on Twitter, if you like short, often pointless, updates.