Storytelling Imagery

Images can take on many forms, but when we look at them from a storytelling lens, we are able to appreciate the subject in more ways than one.

For simplicity we can classify them into three different categories. Based on how close you are to your subject you will change the story behind the photo as you focus on different aspects of your subject matter.

Let’s take wildlife photos for example. We love to see their photos and their habitat, but we also love to see the details that we may not necessarily see with our own eye simply because we are rarely that close to various wildlife like lions and tigers (oh my!).

Depending on the photographer, they may refer to the following in different terminology but the concepts are all the same…so let’s take a closer look.

The Three Perspectives

Let’s take a look at these three perspectives as they pertain to birds. Click the image to view them larger!


Details of a yellow-throated warbler.

This category refers to wildlife being photographed up close. We get intimate photographs that perhaps evoke strong emotions as we glare into their eyes, see fine details of plumage, or appreciate the details of beaks of birds, paws of wildlife, and other areas that we may seldom see without the use of a long focal length lens. This category often focuses on a portion of the subject and they likely won’t be in their entirety in the frame—unless the wildlife are small to begin with, like this common yellow-throated warbler.


A yellow warbler amongst the trees.

This category opens our view just slightly so we get a view of the entire wildlife and perhaps just a little more of its surroundings. This addition of the surrounding area provides a little context as to where the wildlife was photographed, or gives us enticing views of its habitat.

It tells a different story than in the above category by letting the viewers into the immediate surroundings of the wildlife.


A yellow-throated warbler perched on a tall grass.

This category creates an entirely different story by featuring the wildlife in the grander scheme of the environment. With the widest view of the three categories, we now see the entire wildlife and the landscape that it roams in. The subject will be presented the smallest in this category as we fully appreciate the beauty of the natural landscape that it thrives in.

Look closer at this image and you’ll see the common yellow-throated warbler on the left side, perched on a tall grass.

The concept presented here is simple yet powerful in telling unique stories about our subject. In fact, it can be used in many different genres of photography including street photography and even urban/cityscape photography. Be mindful of this and you’ll start creating more powerful imagery in your next outing.

The concept of storytelling imagery is one that we will have all used unknowingly. Now that you know its effect though, you are more equipped at photographing intentional and impactful images.

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