Telling a Story or Conveying Emotion

March 18, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I often hear photographers talk about the importance of telling a story with a photograph. I guess I understand that when you're talking about photojournalism or lifestyle photography. But how do you tell a story with a landscape? Story implies narrative. It implies actors and movement. Those ideas don't really apply in landscape photography. OR at least they don't with me. Maybe I'm dense (it certainly wouldn't be the first time I've wondered about that), but telling a story in a landscape photograph just doesn't connect with me. It's a goal I don't know how to fulfill. So I've decided to quit worrying about it.

What makes a lot more sense to me is making an image that helps people feel what I felt when I was there. I can wrap my mind around that. And even more importantly, I can wrap my heart around that.

Take the image above, for instance, which I've titled "Heaven's Gate". I could tell you the story about the evening we spent at Morton's Overlook in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last summer. And I've done that in a previous post. But what I'd much rather do with my this photograph is help others experience that magical place - admittedly in a smaller, less complete way - the way we did that evening as we watched the sun bow to the encroaching darkness. This image comes close to that.

In the end, photography (at least for me) is about emotion. And I'll be the first to admit that I don't always convey it as well or as deeply as I'd like. But that's not because there's emotion involved. When I photograph something in nature, I can assure you that I always feel something deeply. It's what makes me stop the car or halt my hike and begin looking through the viewfinder. I've seen something that makes me feel something. Sometimes it's color, often it's light. I have some kind of connective emotional experience with every landscape I photograph. Nature changes me, calms me, soothes me, and enlivens me all at the same time; it always has. And THAT is what I want to convey in my images. I want to record the feeling, the sentiment, the pulsing heart of the place that for whatever reason at that moment in time, means something desperately important to me.

So that's my new goal, my new compass bearing, my new direction. All ahead full. ;-)


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