Getting the most out of your photographs

So you have a memory card full of photographs and you have no idea what to do with them. You want to send some to your Mum who lives in another country and you want to get some printed up for your boyfriend or girlfriend to put into the album that you have decided to start together. But where do you start?

Editing photographs is one of the finest arts that all photographers can aspire to, as anyone that has sat through their Uncle Alan and Aunty Sheila’s bad and repetitive holiday snaps for endless hours, can attest. The difficulty in picking a great photograph is only trebled when trying to pick a great sequence of photographs.

The major issue with picking which photographs work together and which don’t is that to make a convincing edit creating some form of narrative is generally necessary. Narrative is a linear concept so starting your edit at the beginning of a journey of any description, is always a good way to open the story.

Say for instance the photos you wish to send to your Mum are of a picnic lunch at the beach with some friends. You worked hard to get some really great shots and its mid winter where she is living and it’s a glorious summer where you are. You want to capture what its like to live in this sun shine drenched coastal paradise and send her a little photographic slide show on the internet.

The first photographs in an interesting sequence should set the scene so perhaps this was a shot of people packing picnic baskets with food and it could include some close up shots of the objects that were consumed later on. Setting the mood could be in the use of photographs that have lots of colour and are bright and happy.

Perhaps then the next set of images could include a photograph of your friends climbing into the car, or a portrait of your girlfriend down at the beach. The middle part of a set of photographs can flesh out a story and really describe what that story is, so photos of the activities that occurred while at the beach would be a great way to continue the narrative.

Finally a few silhouette shots of people walking on the beach at sunset would certainly round the sequence off well. Applying this kind of structure to all mini photo essays is quite logical and can be very effective in developing an idea.

The maximum amount of photos that are really necessary would not be more than twenty to thirty. For most the attention is waning at around about twelve images so the stricter the edit the more grateful your audience is for not being tortured ~ and that includes your mother!

A variety of angles and compositions keeps people more interested than endless similar photographs so remember when you are shooting that this is the outcome you wish to achieve and then your editing will become easier.

The art of the picture story is one of the highest forms of photographic art but once it is perfected it is an awesome way to communicate. So keep practicing.

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