This post is one of several in a monthly educational blog circle made up of storytelling photographers and Offset artists. After you read how I shot my storytelling image for the month, click to the next artist at the bottom of my post and follow the circle the whole way around. Enjoy!
Welcome to my October Storytellers Blog Circle post. Since we are in the thick of fall, pumpkin-everything, and soccer every weekend, I decided to pick this image of my youngest son, entertaining himself during his older brother's soccer game a few weeks ago. I picked it because I like the story it tells about our Saturday mornings right now, but I also picked it because it's sort of a rule breaker in the way I exposed him. Let's talk about it!
When I was thinking about making this picture, I knew that I would have to make a decision due to the fact that he was standing in the shade, while the soccer fields behind him were bathed in morning light. Should I expose for my son, meaning his face would be nice and light while also causing the soccer players behind him to be very bright and hard to see? Or should I underexpose him in order to save the details behind him? I tried it both ways, and the image I ended up liking better is this one- where he is underexposed. The story here is not just how cute he looks, all dressed up to copy his brother. Or that he's playing with the tree. I have lots of shots where he is dressed cute and engaging with nature. The story is much more about how the younger sibling spends his time during big brother's activities. It's a story to which most moms and dads of two or more children can relate. Therefore, an exposure that draws my viewer's eyes to the busy field and little colorful players behind him is the one I wanted.
Compositionally, I lucked out in that he was playing with the tree branch. When I underexposed him, I did the same to the tree. The tree branch enters into the frame at the top left and continues to his hand, where his body becomes a natural extension of it. In other words, the flow from tree to boy is easy on the eyes; it takes a complicated scene and gives it some order. Also, the fact that it is underexposed really helps to make two layers in this image. The little brother layer in the foreground and the big brother layer in the background.
When you are telling stories with pictures, remember that the rules of portraiture (well-exposed, bright faces with catchlights in the eyes) don't always apply. Conveying your story should be considered first when making decisions on composition and exposure. Now, get out there and tell your little story!