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Telling a Story in a Single Frame

Posted By Jeff Wignall On January 6, 2009 @ 7:59 am In Art of Photography | 1 Comment

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If there’s one thing a photograph can do well, it’s to tell a story in a single picture. Think of all the great images in history: Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photo of a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square on VJ day, Edie Adams’ horrific image of a man being assassinated in the streets of Saigon–these are images that have burned themselves into our collective consciousness and recorded important moments in history in a single frame.

You may not be witness to such iconic moments in history, but there’s no reason you can’t use your camera to tell powerful stories. All it takes is a ready camera and an awareness of those interesting vignettes in life that happen around us every day.

All You Need Is Love


I took this photo of the famous “Love” sculpture, for example, while walking in Manhattan one afternoon. As I approached the statue I saw this young couple (on the right) posing for a friend with a camera, then I noticed the homeless person sleeping on the sculpture. It seemed like such a vast contrast in how people were relating to the sculpture: to one it was a romantic venue, to the other, a bed. To the left, businessmen were passing by, seemingly oblivious to the contrast in life experiences happening a few feet away from them.

The whole event happened so quickly that I didn’t even have time to put the camera to my eye; I simply aimed the camera from the hip and fired two quick frames. The photo was later used in my book The Joy of Digital Photography and has gotten a lot of comments from readers. Of course, some people who look at the shot only notice the sculpture, which astounds me! I guess they are like the businessmen: completely jaded to human moments in the city.

Your Audience Awaits

Telling stories with your camera is great fun, and whether or not you are a professional photojournalist, you can share your stories with the world through your own Web site or Flickr photostream. In fact, you have almost as much of a potential audience through photo-sharing sites as Eisenstaedt or Adams did via the front pages of newspapers and magazines in previous generations.

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1 Comment To "Telling a Story in a Single Frame"

#1 Comment By Eric On January 6, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

"Telling stories with your camera is great fun, and whether or not you are a professional photojournalist, you can share your stories with the world"

You are absolutely right about that. If you have a good story to tell, viewers will come.

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