Photography tips – Making a connection

When you look at a photo you truly love, whether you have taken it or not, what is it about that photo that moves you?  Most likely there is some sort of connection in the photo or with you as a viewer.  This is what draws you in and makes you want to know more of what happened.

In my own personal (non-professional and very possibly wrong) opinion there are few different types of connections that are explicit in photographs.

– The subject(s) is looking at the camera with attitude (whether good or bad).  This allows you to see a bit of their personality coming at you.

– The subject(s) is interacting with their environment.  This can be staged or natural, but the photo shows them in a place where they are engaged.

– The subject(s) is in the midst of activity but appears to be lost in their own world.  It makes you want to know what they are thinking or feeling.  Are they happy or sad?


– The subjects are interacting together in such a way as to tell a story with no words.


The subject(s) in question don’t necessarily need to be human, of course.  They can be animals, cars, or deserted buildings.  The main point is that you are trying to capture more than just an image, but a story.  You are trying to make a connection with the viewer to what you photographed.  This is something I have been thinking about more lately in taking photographs.  I want more than just a portrait of my kids, but I want a story to be told in the image.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be deep and profound.  I’m not photographing the Dalai Lama here, but I want the photos to show their experiences in life as they grow.

It is hard to make every single photo you shoot have a connection with your audience.  Most especially if you shoot as much as I do.  When you have that special shot, though, it is when you truly become a storyteller without words.


10 Replies to “Photography tips – Making a connection”

  1. I love this post!

    You are so right about making that connection – and sometimes it has little to do with the technical aspects of the photo!

    I love being able to look at a picture and feel the same flood of emotions that I did when it was taken. The picture of a surprised but eager pregnant woman in premature labor; the later one of utter exhaustion with a seconds-old Tristan on my belly.

    Even the one of my sister’s tiny little infant in the enclosed bassinet being rushed to the NICU… we found later that it would be the only picture we ever had of Gracie with her eyes open. How incredible to have captured that memory for a grieving mother.

    The strangest one for me – with strong emotions of both happiness and abject sadness, is me sitting at the table with my birthday cake. I was four years old that day – with hair in pigtails and solid curls. Hours later I would become profoundly deaf. What was I hearing that day? Did I ignore the last time I would ever hear “Happy Birthday” sung to me, in favor of my eagerness to get to the cake? Did I enjoy the splashing in the pool and the shrieks of my swimming friends?

    Stacy, I can SO relate! Thanks for putting this to words and reminding me of the power of that perfect shot that tells a story!

  2. oh, i can’t wait to see everyone’s stories on thursday!
    i love all the photos, Stacy – but that first one of Kai, it is just breathtakingly beautiful! gah.

  3. I love the way you have of taking something I know in my heart, and helping me to understand it in my head. I’d never thought about it in quite these terms, but it’s exactly spot on right! Thanks – I needed this today!
    And, I can’t wait to read the picture stories on Thursday!

  4. beautiful theme idea and excellent way to describe this perspective on composition – if I’m using the right words. I came late to Theme Thursday but have some pics up now. Happy Fall.

    Oh, and I have a question. We have all these amazing spider webs in the yard and I’d love to take a picture with the sun catching them. Any advice?

  5. Great theme for this week. I love the third shot of that little girl and her parents (assuming) standing behind her. It is so beautiful and the lighting is perfect.

  6. Awesome post, Stacy! So true…I want my photos to tell the stories of my kiddos as they grow up so I can remember their childhoods and as much possible of what they were like…I have a terrible long-term memory, so I need the photos to tell the story…

  7. So well put!
    I have noticed lately that I have tried to do the same thing.
    I recently got the best compliment on some of my photographs from my mother.
    She said that she can really see the interaction between the boys with no words.
    She is not close by and by looking at my pictures she knows what they are like.

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