Telling stories with photographs: “The visual storyteller” by Oded Wagenstein


Just a couple of days ago I showed on blog a small portfolio of street photographs I took at local farmers market. While I was happy with images technically, I was unsure if they are on track of being good photographs – i.e. did they tell the story? Accidentally, later that day Craft & Vision released an e-book “The visual storyteller” by Oded Wagenstein. The e-book was promising to explore the elements of the story, and how to tell stories photographically. Just the things I was starting to think about, looking at my images.

Intrigued, I downloaded the e-book and started reading. I hoped that it will not be another “visual toolbox”, so much needed, but at this point I was not interested in any more of white balance and visual balance issues. Luckily, Oded Wagenstein, who is a photographer for National Geographic Traveler, Israeli edition, knows what he is doing, photographically and as teacher. He delivered the value I wanted.

The first part of “The visual storyteller” was the one with all the answers. Oded Wagenstein listed and discussed all the essential elements of the story, things like main character, emotion etc. Then he went to talk about general things particular to photography, but important for the story, things like color or movement. The second part of the e-book (it is me making the distinction) is more a travel photography guide, with subjects like preparation, shooting list or ins and outs of magazine publishing. It is hard on just 78 pages to cover everything there is tell about such a wide scope, thus some things come out more like ideas to explore than the comprehensive lessons. Such is a chapter on photographing portraits, especially when the lighting is discussed. At the same time, there are some unique information in this section. For example, do you know what “broken looking space” is? I did not…


Did I learn everything there is to know about telling the stories with photographs just by reading “The visual storyteller”? No, of course not. But now I am equipped with the knowledge of basic elements. I realize it will take time. At first, I will be using this knowledge in retrospective, looking at images already taken and trying to figure out what is missing. I hope with time, I will start remembering and realizing what I need to add at the scene, before pressing the shutter.

Meantime, if I got you inteersted in “The visual storyteller” by Oded Wagenstein, go the Craft & Vision web site and check it out by yourself. Right now you can purchase the e-book for just $4 if you use the code STORY4 (this offer expires on October 21, 11:59 pm PST). After that, the e-book will be available for $5.


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