Believe it or not, this entire concept was spontaneous. I had a photo walk earlier that evening and planned to shoot Angel (Whispers) after the photo walk. Rachel, modeled at the photo walk and coincidentally arrived in the perfect, schoolgirl costume. Rachel was even prepared with fake blood! And it was that moment that the plot of Whispers, a story of a killer clown on Halloween, was started.
I want you to pay close attention to the notion of using a storyline. Storylines guide sequences of events. The use of storylines in your photography also facilitates emotion within and from your subjects. The reason I share this with you is because I want to help you move your work to the next level! So you may ask yourself, “how can I start incorporating stories in my photography?” Simple. Find your characters (subjects), setting (shoot location), think of some sort of problem and come up with a way to solve it. All good stories contain problems open to resolution. You just have to figure out how to fix it! In the case of Whispers, I found myself creating many little problems. This allowed me to elicit such a range of emotions from the subjects within each set.
For example, in the first set, Whispers is introduced. His first problem is that he doesn’t have a victim and needs to go and find one. As I verbalized the story to Angel (the name of the subject playing Whispers), he really began channeling his character, Whispers, and felt a sense of power, curiosity, and craze. And as you all know, it’s very important to make your subjects feel. This is all driven by your communication and subject’s buy-in. Remember guys, it’s up to you to help make your subjects feel. Making your subjects feel doesn’t always come from, “be coy, be sexy” it comes from story description. For example, if you want your subject to feel coy, tell them a story that would make you feel coy. “You order some food and a really cute guy sits across from you. You both make eye contact and then you can tell he is coming over to talk to you. You’re excited and nervous and eager to meet.” Snap snap snap, you take the picture. When storytelling, describe everyday exchanges; a simple as it sounds, it will help evoke emotion. If you practice some of these techniques, you’ll surely see a difference in your photography.
So, mini- problem number one, Whisper wanted to wreak havoc but is without a victim. Photo set one is resolved as Whispers found Rachel ordering food. This initiated set two and mini-problem two. Whispers ordered a kabob, Rachel is a little afraid of him and now Whispers has to gain Rachel’s trust. This scene was particularly dynamic. In order to storytell, I based the sequence of events around Rachel being afraid of Whispers all the way up until Rachel decided to let Whispers walk her home. I photographed the events sequentially (i.e. Rachel eating at the food truck, Rachel’s apprehension of Whispers, cash exchange, Angel winning Rachel over and walking her home). During the sequence, I treated it like a wedding. I captured the shoes, the hands, the cash exchange. All of the tiny details make you feel as if you were there.
Thinking sequentially requires you to slow down, so you don’t skip a beat. There’s a story to be told in all that we do. Ordering food, going on a date, having to win over the girl, being locked out of your house, feeling afraid at night. Our day to day experiences evoke the most emotion, curiosity, apprehension, modesty, and angst, because they’re so relatable. It’s just your job to storytell and help bring it out. I hope it helps.
Thank you for reading this blog, watching the video, viewing the galleries. You all mean the world to me, my team, and my family. I can’t thank you enough for supporting what we do.
Scroll below for Behind-the-Scenes shots!
Jason Lanier Photography