Inspiration: Edward Weston

My opinion is: a good photographer is also a good storyteller. If you’ve been reading this blog from day one, you’ll know that I’m stuck on the “tell a story in your photographs” technique.

Say hello to Edward Weston.

Quick bio: Edward Weston (1886-1958) is probably one of the most influential photographers in 20th Century. While most of the body of his work are of nature – seashells, trees, and rocks – his portraits are equally captivating.

In many of his images, Weston disregards many of the basic portrait photography rules. Instead of worrying about whether a limb was in frame, lighting, or how his subject was posed, he focused on catching fleeting emotions in a spontaneous moment. In that sense, he was quite possibly the father of street photography.

Is she shouting? What’s she saying? Who is she talking to? Every time I look at this image, I imagine a different conversation.

Edward Weston was quite good at storytelling.

When I get too caught up on the technical aspects of portraits and stress over how my pictures aren’t coming out the way I envisioned them in my head, I like to take a step back, look at Weston’s works (among others’) and remind myself the spontaneity in a photo shoot can be a factor in storytelling.

What’s a guy in white pants doing sitting on a wheelbarrow? Is he taking a break from grueling work (which I doubt)? Or is that just a convenient perch on a long stroll around his property on a nice day?

Sure, these images have technical issues that my pragmatic side keeps eyeing. That (below image) elbow and the tip of the finger is clipped. The framing is poor. But does it matter? No…What matters is the feeling this images evokes in me. The story that Weston is telling.

He looks depressed. Or has a bad headache. Or both.

In my mind, that’s the biggest key to a photographer’s success. The story. I feel like I should break out into the Beaches song (“That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.”) Ahem. I’ve got that out of my system.

When we photograph someone, it doesn’t have to be a contrived story. We don’t need to plan every little detail in a shot. By keeping in the back of your mind all the components in an image – the subject, the environment, mood and emotion, and pose – while also letting your subjects behave normally, you can capture that golden moment where everything just clicks.

Tell a story.

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