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A picture is worth a thousand words – Ishita Dharnidharka On Telling Stories With Your Photos

Ishita Dharnidharka is a Mumbai based travel and adventure photographer whose photography skills have been recognized by giants like Canon, Nokia, Google and Johnnie Walker. She even went to Peru for an assignment sponsored by the Peru tourism board. She also shoots food and interior photography commercially. She is one who can ditch anything for […]

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Ishita Dharnidharka
Ishita Dharnidharka

Ishita Dharnidharka is a Mumbai based travel and adventure photographer whose photography skills have been recognized by giants like Canon, Nokia, Google and Johnnie Walker. She even went to Peru for an assignment sponsored by the Peru tourism board. She also shoots food and interior photography commercially. She is one who can ditch anything for travelling and she is the one who captures every single moment during her travel. Her clicks are incredible and she knows the art of beautifying an object by choosing the perfect frame.

Throughout the history of storytelling, visuals have played an important role. Visual storytelling is an integral part of the human experience dating back to cave paintings. Because of our history and attachment to visuals, photo storytelling can be extremely powerful. A photograph has the ability to convey emotion, mood, narrative, ideas and messages – all of which are important elements of story telling. Of course the gift of story telling is something that doesn’t just happen – good story tellers are intentional about learning how to tell stories and practice their craft says Ishita.

Photography has been used as a way of telling stories for as long as the medium has existed. In its simplest form, a single photo in a newspaper fits into this category. One image attempting to capture the essence of the written story sharing its page. In it’s longer form, a series of photos tells a larger story.

A photograph will capture & freeze a moment in time whilst conveying an emotion, expressing a mood, sharing an idea & telling a narrative. All key elements of storytelling.

Photos can be used to tell many stories; from travels around the world to family holidays. Imagine your task is to tell the visual story of a person. A parent perhaps, or even yourself. How would you do it? A single portrait wouldn’t be a story. A person’s story is in the details; a picture of their desk, travel books strewn across a bedroom floor, a close-up of their hands that are dirty from working the garden, and a wide-angle portrait of them surrounded by a few of their favorite things. Next time you’re photographing a person, try to include small details in the frame that add to their story suggests Ishita.

She says an important aspect of characters in storytelling is the idea of “windows and mirrors”. When it comes to storytelling, characters are important because they can offer you windows into the lives and experiences of others and a mirror to see some of yourself in a character and relate to them. Powerful portraits do just this. Planning is an essential part of the process for visual storytelling.  “What your mind does not know, your eyes can’t see.” This is probably most apt when planning your photo essay. You must plan well ahead to visualise the story. Taking these steps beforehand will give the structure you need for your narrative.

You may have some brilliant pictures that are technically perfect; however, there are two particular elements that make a strong image even stronger for a photo essay.  Firstly, the images should be emotive to have some kind of emotional impact on your viewer. Not all images must contain a human element to be emotionally moving; rather it could be anything from a landscape to a still life. The images should evoke strong emotional feeling in the viewer’s psyche.

Secondly, the images should be thoughtfully layered with meaning. This is how you engage your viewer’s attention for a longer period of time. This is usually the most difficult process of telling a story with photographs.  You may not be able to consciously shoot images with several layers of meaning, but always keep an eye out for these layered pictures while shooting, selecting and arranging the images for the story shares Ishita.

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