Top Photographer Dreams: Every Picture Tells a Story

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every picture tells a story

I sat on the back porch and looked through my most recent photographs with my parents, one by one. At the end of the stack my parents had 2 different reactions:

Dad: “You took 12 photos of the dog. Why did you do that? I don’t get it.”

Mom: “She took 12 photos of the dog. She was telling a story. I get it! See, here’s the dog sleeping and running, a few of her eating, and the rest are from the walk in the neighborhood. “

I looked up, caught my mom’s eye and smiled – relieved that she understood me – and since that time, my mission is to tell a story through images.

As a kid that was easy to do. There were stories and emotions everywhere. School, parties, friends, sports – It was easy because I wasn’t thinking about taking them, I just took them.

Do you want to test it for yourself?

Go grab one of your old photo albums and look through it. Every photo you point to has a story right? That is why it that particular shot made it into the album in the first place. You may laugh, cry, feel regret, pride – any number of emotions. But you captured them.

As an adult it can be harder to do. First instinct may be to just take pictures – obvious story or not. If you are going through an emotional time in your life like I am right now, the last thing you may want to do is capture more emotions.

At this point in my own life, though, I think its become second nature for me to shoot stories in this way and here’s how it shows up:

With people I wait out the obvious poses, talk to them as they mill around, let them be comfortable and in familiar surroundings. Remember, as photographers we have to see things that are sometimes not there. We have to have their story running in our mind constantly as we shoot. It’s a lot to hold on to, but amazing when we can get it right.

With nature I am patient and wait for light. Its a funny thing to wait for, but there is a differenttop photographer dreams every picture tells a story emotion captured when shooting something in broad daylight versus at dawn or at dusk. If you look beyond the obvious (I’m gonna take a photo of that lake) and focus on documenting the story and emotion (I wanna capture its beauty and tranquility after the storm) your images will reflect those emotions – guaranteed.

If you like portrait work and shooting weddings and other events, here are some other ideas to keep in mind when it comes to capturing someone’s story and emotions:

  • Accept that people actually have a story to tell – It’s our job to capture it, not invent it for them.
  • The story may be painful but capture it anyway – So if your gut tells you to take it the shot, take the shot.
  • Stop telling them to “say cheese” – because feelings can’t be forced. In my experience, the best emotional shots are usually the ones not overly orchestrated.
  • Even with best intentions and incredible preparation, be ready for ‘nothing’. Images may fall flat. It happens. Regroup and keep shooting if possible.

Do some research on the internet on emotion and photography – There are alot of articles written with tips and tricks for organized portrait shoots and events, emotion in landscape photography, even working with emotion in animals. Whatever your niche, it doesn’t matter.

The best images will always be the ones that evoke emotion and make people feel something.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite photographers who wrote this while visiting his mother for the last time before she died:

Every once in a while, you might get a feeling you need to shoot a picture. I would follow through on those, no matter how awkward, or sad, or inconvenient it might be. Over the years, I’ve made pictures of some feelings. Missed lots of times. Some though, I still have a picture of and I’m glad I do. Those pictures – of those feelings, have become my memory. – Joe McNally

Until next photo,


Remy’s dream is creating opportunities for photography showings and public displays of her work.

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  • Jayne Speich, Financial Assistance

    Remy, this post reminded me that Ernest Hemingway famously said that what is left out of a story is often more important to the story than what is left in. I think you’ve applied that idea to your photography, and the effect on the viewer is always to want to know more, or to imagine what else happened. It makes the viewer an active participant in the image, not just a passive observer of it. It’s such a gift you have, to be able to freeze a moment in an image and still convey that there was life going on all around that moment.

    I’m inspired. I would like my stories to tell pictures, just as your pictures tell stories. Great post, Remy.

    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      Active participants in the image…not just an observer…YES. What an incredible way to say that. thanks Jayne for your comments. Makes me feel like I can I actually do this…:) xox Rem

  • Lisa

    Hey Remy, I just think this is gorgeous: “With nature I am patient and wait for light.”

    Beautiful ~ somehow that seems to me like a metaphor for life ~ like how we sometimes have to sit things out and wait for the storm clouds to pass in our lives, or moods, or relationships. There will always be more light :)

    I love the idea of storytelling through pictures as well. I do this myself, intuitively and secretly (shhh!) want to focus more on photography in the future too ~ Study it as an art ~ just have alawys naturally loved taking pictures.

    So, I learn a lot from you and all your great tips and insights!

    Keep it up girl! :)

    Lots of love,

    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      I am loving your stories about raw lent and your travels and spiritual journey! I can imagine the images you have and the stories they tell! When we write the book about 8WD, we’ll have to capture those….xo Rem

  • My pictures tell the story that i don’t hold my camera correctly and if I did my finger will not show up in the upper right hand corner of every shot.

    Now there’s a concept!

    Being the story teller that I am, I can appreciate a story told in pictures.

    It would be fun for you to to a blog post with a set of images telling a story. . .


    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      I wanted to put a gallery in here but I didnt know how. Maybe we can add it in later. thanks for your comments! xox Rem

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