Ask any photographer what they do with all the media they make and they’ll probably say something about file folders, clouds, and external hard drives. While organization and back-up systems are important, they don’t exactly do your art justice. The best way to enjoy the fruits of your labor and track your progress is to package your work into stories. Not only does doing so make it easier for you to look back on, but bravely sharing your images leads to opportunities for feedback and connections that will help you grow as an artist and storyteller.
“Now more than ever, we have amazing opportunities to showcase work. It’s easier, quicker, and more accessible to do this,” says Gareth Pon, a creative director and photographer based in Chicago. Pon, like many other photographers, is a big fan of campaigns, series, and other techniques to package their photos in interesting ways. In this article, we’re going beyond shutter speeds and offering up photo storytelling ideas that’ll help bring your photography to life—and get them off your camera roll.
1. Get monochromatic.
Creating or taking part in a color series can be a fun way to flex your photography muscles while connecting with fellow photographers and fans who are also following the series. A perfect example of this is the ongoing #sevendaysofblackandwhite campaign, where photographers challenge themselves and others to post just black-and-white photos for seven days on Instagram.
Remix this template to create a collage recap of your work.
If black and white isn’t your thing, they are tons of color challenges, like #16daysofred, part of the #100daysofcolor challenge, which pushes photographers to find interesting uses and combinations of colors in their photographs.
2. Document a technique.
Turn your practice sessions into works of art by compiling your explorations into photo stories. Not only will you come away with a beautiful piece, the journals can act as helpful references later. This is especially effective when you want to explore specific photography techniques, like this example from Karyn Easton, aka Secret Shutter.
Easton uses Spark Page to create her own series exploring the photography style and different techniques of Bokeh (the Japanese word for blur), which she creates by photographing fairy lights and ensuring that they were deliberately out of focus. She shared this piece with the photography class she teaches and on social media, no doubt inspiring others to follow her lead and create their own Bokeh photography.
Similarly, Jim Babbage explores night photography and provides helpful notes on the story behind the shot. Try using Spark Page to elaborate on your work or track your technique explorations in a visual way.
3. Go deep on a subject.
Unlike the previous tip, which focuses on a collection of photographs featuring one color or style, this project focuses on one particular subject or place to tell a narrative. Take the opportunity to explore a subject deeply through photographs and research like Matthew Cattell did with puffins.
4. Create a travel guide.
Another great way to tell a story with your photos is to share your travel journeys. By shooting lots of pictures and sharing your thoughts, experiences, and recommendations, chronologically or topically, you’ll tap into a huge community of photographers and travellers with an interested in that same destination.
Trey Ratcliffe, the photographer behind the travel blog Stuck in Customs, took a unique approach when he went to Burning Man in the Nevada desert. He created a stunning visual ‘survival guide’ for the event that incorporates vibrant images with customized graphics and text in an incredibly fluid format.
It’s a perfect example of how shooting with a purpose on your travels, and weaving those photos together to take the audience along with you, can be a fun and rewarding project that others will find as useful as they do interesting.
“I use Adobe Spark to weave together a good story that is visually stimulating. It fits a sweet spot for me between photos and blog posts for a discrete message,” he said. Check out more examples here of photographers who have turned their travels into awesome photo projects.
5. Do a portrait series.
Take one young photographer’s inspiring photo project as an example: Evelyn Martinez, aka Xicanayork, committed herself to 100 free photo shoots for women of color with the goal of honoring those that inspire her. She’s connected all of the portraits with the #100womxnofcolor, which has attracted both likes and followers and has helped Evelyn brand herself on social.
Are you a living in NYC (or visiting NYC)? Have you always wanted a beautiful photoshoot? Creative/conceptual photos? Photos for your brand? Modeling or acting headshots? Fotos con tus mejores amigxs? This is for YOU!!! I’m doing 100 free photoshoots for women of color in NYC and you’re an appointment away from making your photo dreams come true! I also have upcoming themed photoshoots for this project so if you’re down for that, hit me up!! At the end of this project (goal: end of April) I will host a party with all the participants & we’ll display the best pictures of each photoshoot ✨y vamos a bailar, comer, de todooooo! Send me a message and share this con tu Amiguis! • • • • #xicanayork #xicanaphotographer #bronxcreatives #latinaphotographer #latinx #womxn #muxeres #xingonas #photography #nyc #nyclife #nycphotographer #xicanadaily #vscocam #adobespark #sparkpost #graphics #branding #vaynernation #garyvee #execute #instagood #instalove #thebronx #brooklyn #queens #statenisland #manhattan #newyorkcity #100womxnofcolor
Evelyn took to Instagram to recruit subjects for her project. Spark Post helped her brand the project.
6: Danielle @hipsandtrips212 ✨✨✨this Queen is a dancer & a model ✨✨☺️ • • • • • #xicanayork #xicanaphotographer #blackgirlmagic #blackexcellence #beauty #vscocam #vscodaily #vsco #instagood #instalove #dancers #dance #art #nycart #latergram #latepost #queens #thebronx #manhattan #statenisland #brooklyn #bronxcreatives #igers #city #strength #wcw #100womxnofcolor
Simple templates put the focus on your photo while still allowing an opportunity for context or branding.
The hashtag has also generated a community. Many of the women Martinez has shot have proudly shared their portraits and the portraits of others, and are able to connect with other women in the series. She says it would not have been doable without Spark’s easy-to-use photo editing and sharing features.
“Spark has fit in with my #100womxnofcolor project so well because it makes things duplicable. I can easily make posts that highlight women I’ve taken pictures of and it doesn’t require hours of editing. It can all be done on-the-go,” she said.
Here Evelyn applies a color animation with Spark Post to turn her photo into a social media-ready video.
6. Go big with macro photography.
Revealing a world that the human eye can’t see on its own opens up fantastic storytelling opportunities. While macro photography is best done on a professional or DSLR camera, smartphones have been catching up, with many macro photography possibilities now possible by using iPhone and Android devices. Check out a perfect example below.
This video slideshow, made with Spark Video by Matt Doogue (who’s been featured on National Geographic and the legendary BBC Earth), showcases Matt’s insect and arachnid discoveries in his the garden. It didn’t require much travel, but the images transport you to a completely different world, showing us you don’t have to go far to find something extremely interesting to photograph.
7. Let a social media challenge hold you accountable.
Just as picking a technique or color can help provide your project helpful creative constraints, social media challenges can help push you to share, while also introducing you to other photographers and fans. The 365 Project encourages photographers to up the frequency of their posts, taking a photo every single day as a sort-of visual journal. It’s a good way to push past some of that creativity-killing perfectionism that keeps our photos on our desktops and phones.
The 365 Project allows photographers to create a public journal on its website, but the social media campaign that goes along with it is where the real energy is. At any given point, thousands of people are sharing photo snapshots into their lives, telling their year’s story one day at a time. At the end of your 365 days, you could also make a slideshow of your year using Spark Video to get a full appreciation of everything that’s happened and how your skills have progressed.
There are tons of other great projects to get you shooting and cause a stir with followers, friends, and fellow photographers. Share your favorite projects on social media and be sure to hashtag #adobespark for your chance to be featured on our official Instagram page.
Article by Patrick Faller