Telling A Story With One Photograph / by Stephen Mc Elligott

Camera: Olympus OMD EM-5 Lens: Olympus 7-14mm f/4-5.6 ISO: 1600 Aperture: f/4 Shutter Speed: 1/80s   

Camera: Olympus OMD EM-5
Lens: Olympus 7-14mm f/4-5.6
ISO: 1600
Aperture: f/4
Shutter Speed: 1/80s


It's up to the photographer to examine his environment and to keep a keen eye on the behaviour of his subjects and the environment that accompanies them.

The reason for this is it will help enhance your portraiture to the extent that you're less likely to miss something and as a result produce something lifeless.

The manner in which you utilize your lens of choice in addition to the surrounding environment and knowing how/when to use it can really make or break your photograph.

Wide angle lenses aren't always a portrait photographers first choice because they tend to distort the person features, giving a sort of fish eye appearance.

The wide angle therefore can be unflattering and so a telephoto lens is usually the popular choice here for a good portrait.

Taking note of this we can surmise from the photograph of my son at the piano, that wide angle portraits are not always doomed to fail and can even be great if you do it right.

I was attempting to take a happy picture of him playing the Piano but sadly my son was not in the mood.

Children are very honest and sometimes no matter how much you attempt to develop an atmosphere of happiness, such is their honesty that they'll just end up being who they are at that moment.

He's rather melancholic in this photograph. I saw the Piano and placed it in the foreground going from the high key's association with cheerfulness to the very low solemn keys of melancholy where my son happened to be.

I don't know about you but when I look at this image I hear the sad music. There is a rhythm from start to finish that you wouldn't have got with a portrait lens such as an 85mm.

The Piano key next to my son that is missing its original ivory casing seems to suggest that something is ''missing'' which is to say the absence of a cheerful mood.

Furthermore the folding of the arms convey a sense of closing off from the world, a special guard that doesn't want the world to get in, nor does it want to give anything away.

The entire image is rather melancholic, there's no escaping that but here's the defining moment between a photographer wanting to be in charge of the mood but the subject being in control of how the photograph will turn out.

The lesson to be learned here is that sometimes we need to allow the subject to take control and be themselves. By doing this we then can often end up with a photograph that makes a real impact in a sense by just allowing nature take its course.

The next time you pick up your camera I encourage you to examine your environment but also look for the opportunity to tell a good story and use that environment to do so.