Saturday, August 12, 2006

08/12/06: Let the Photo Tell the Story

Let the Photo Tell the Story

Tonight my wife and I took the kids to Ted Drewes' -- a very popular St. Louis frozen custard stand where large crowds gather on weekend nights. Ted Drewes' is a St. Louis tradition and has been for over 75 years. When people visit "the Lou" for the first time...quite often they are told by locals that they "have to try Ted Drewes' frozen custard." (In fact a photographer friend of mine from Orlando was in town and when he saw the crowds of people he said they must put crack in the custard!)

Tonight, while we are sitting on a bench having our delicious treats (and trying to keep the kids from spilling theres), I noticed a group of people gathering to have their picture taken. Evidently it was someone's first trip to Ted Drewes. I couldn't help but notice what a crummy spot they had chosen to capture this memory...a couple of people standing around smiling in front of an SUV parked next to some large dumpsters. What story does that picture tell? (Well, okay, maybe the dumpsters had some significance...I just don't know!)

I resisted the temptation to go tell them..."hey, why don't you take your group picture over here where you'll get the cool Ted Drewes' neon sign in the background?" Instead I used this experience as a topic for today's tip -- include a sense of "place" in your photo (or series of photos) so that you don't have to explain what the picture is. Naturally, if it's your first trip to Mount Rushmore, you'll probably shoot some images of the presidential heads sculpted out of rock. But don't wait until you are at a famous, scenic location to decide to use parts of the location to tell the story of the photo!

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