How to Become a Better Visual Storyteller as a Photographer: 7 Tips

When you first pick up your camera, you’ll probably start taking pictures of everything and nothing at first. But over time, you will want your art to have a deeper meaning.

One of the best ways to improve your photography is to think about the story behind your images and how you can convey that to your audience. This will create a closer bond with those who look up to you and it will also become easier to stand out.

It’s easy to say that all you have to do is become a better storyteller, but putting that into practice can be tricky. Fear not, though, because we’re here to help you with these seven tips.

1. Think like a writer

Guy on a laptop

Every article you read on our website has a common theme: they all have a beginning, a middle and an end. You can also see it in other creative areas. all you have to do is watch your favorite Hollywood movie or YouTube videos as examples.

If you want to be a better visual storyteller as a photographer, adopting a writer’s mindset is a great place to start.

Describe your photoshoot on a piece of paper before you go; once you’ve done that, all you have to do is perform the steps. You’ll save yourself a lot of decision fatigue, resulting in better and more consistent images.

2. Don’t focus on just one image

Social media is a great tool to help photographers find like-minded people, spread their work, and even build large-scale businesses. But for many people, platforms like Instagram have twisted their photography ideas and forced them to take pretty pictures with no story behind them.


All good stories are a sequence of events, and that should be the case with your photography too. Focus on capturing the whole day while you’re away and think about how these images tell the world what you’re trying to convey.

If you’re not sure how to go about it, consider buying photo books from your favorite artists. These will teach you to think about images as a collective, and watching how another person sees the world will open your mind to new ideas.

3. Set your goals before you shoot

Goals Badge

For many beginner photographers, the goal is simple: get out there and take as many cool photos as possible. These spontaneous shoots have a time and a place, and you need to document your creative process, but not having a plan can also impact the quality of your storytelling.

Before you take your camera out with you, it’s worth thinking a bit about your goals. Do you want to capture the life of your city, for example, or are you trying to document the story of a friend’s wedding?

Once you’ve set your goals, create a note on your smartphone and add some bullet points. You can then refer to it when you need to and make sure you don’t go wrong.

4. Understand your gear

Photo of a person taking pictures through the window

Every camera and lens has its limits. If you’re looking to improve your visual storytelling as a photographer, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best equipment possible for your specific job.

If you already have a camera or lens, understanding what it can and can’t do is a good place to start. How do you do that? Simple: jump in and create in a wide range of scenarios. Then go full circle and see what worked and what didn’t.

Once you understand your gear better, you’ll know how to optimize it to tell the stories you want. Also, upgrading your equipment will become easier because you will know what you are looking for.

Related: Consider These Things When Buying Your First Prime Lens

5. Locate your pitches in advance

Photo of a photographer inside

If you look at some of your favorite photographers, you’ll notice that most of them have a solid level of knowledge about where they shoot. If you don’t know much about where you’re going to shoot, you can expect that to show up in your results.

Before your photoshoot day, it’s worth taking a few hours to scout out exciting spots in the area. If you specialize in photographing your hometown, consider spending a little time each day researching unique places you haven’t been to before.

Related: The main benefits of photographing your hometown

Mapping out your locations ahead of time will help you better understand when is the best time of day to film the story you’re trying to convey. Plus, it’ll save you from frantically rushing through the day to find the best spot.

6. Consider lighting

Photo of a city at golden hour

Having at least a basic understanding of how lighting works is essential for anyone wishing to succeed in photography. The conditions in which you shoot can drastically change the look of your photo and, by extension, its story.

If you’re trying to create something dark and moody, shooting at midday in the summer is illogical. Likewise, going out at 5 p.m. on a cold January night won’t give you the best lighting conditions to portray a bright and joyful story.

To help you find the best times of day for your particular story, consider using an app that tells you more than just sunrise and sunset. Unscriptedfor example, identifies when blue hour and golden hour occur.

Related: What Is The Blue Hour In Photography And When?

7. Take up another creative hobby

Photographer photo with multiple cameras

We talked earlier about thinking like a writer and how it can help you tell better stories through your photography. The actual writing can also help you do this, as can any other creative hobby you choose to pursue.

Taking up another creative hobby alongside photography is a great way to open your eyes to new ways of doing things. Besides that, it’s a useful tool for thinking about different ways to tell a story.

Videography and podcasting are examples of creative hobbies that can help with your photographic storytelling.

Related: Awesome Hobbies for People Who Love Tech

Visual storytelling is a skill that takes time to develop

When you’re just starting out as a photographer, learning how to tell better stories might be the last thing on your mind. But if you want to progress beyond the beginner phase, it’s a great tool to have at your disposal.

Becoming a great storyteller through your photography is something that takes time and patience to build. Expect not to be great at first, but you will improve if you stay committed for the long haul.

Photo of a person taking photos in a city
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