... blog post:
'Every photo tells a story'. 'The 6 fundamentals of storytelling in photography'. 'The 5 best storytelling lenses'. Beware photo storytelling, the marketing myth to trap the unwary.
Let us be clear from the beginning, storytelling is the activity, undertaken by humans, of speaking or writing an account of imaginary or real people and events, i.e. a narration, told for entertainment. Neither more nor less. Thus, photographs, being inanimate objects, cannot and do not tell stories.
At best a photograph can allow its viewer to construct their own narrative around it, that narrative being interpretive and thus unique to them.
A common theme amongst pundits who push the myth of photos telling stories is that such pictures contain people, or at least one person as distinct to say a pure landscape devoid of anyone. Beyond that the definition of what make it a true story becomes hazy and conflicted. Some say it needs implied interaction between the people in the image even if it is a lone figure that is only interacting with itself!
Others claim it should you leave the viewer wanting to ask questions like who and what and where and when? Though to me the latter three questions are more generally applied to any picture. Some say it has an obvious strong emotional relationship narrative as in a wedding photo (hmm, everything is not always what it seems in my experience). Anyway, the fact you end up having to ask questions highlights the absence of said narrative.
When challenged with the facts that a single photograph really cannot tell a story, these pundits typically retreat into the hoary old contrivance, the photo sequence. Whilst one photo may not be able to tell a story, a related sequence of photos most certainly can, they claim.
For example those taken along a walk through the mountains with friends, they say. Sadly for them, all this set of photo really are, are a set of illustrations to support the narrative of a story they need to write down or maybe speak at a presentation. The photos in themselves do not make up a story in their own right.
So where does all of this storytelling claptrap come from then. Well, possibly from that old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words", maybe, or there again as a cross-over from the arty-farty portrait painterly crowd. But its real promulgation lies in those with a vested interest in its promotion and their motivation being, as ever, wait for it... money; and boy has this absurd but heroic sounding topic caught on.
I guess we would all like to become instant storytellers just by pressing a (shutter release) button, without all that tedious plotting, scripting, characterisation, dialogue writing, suspense and drama creation, scene development, and editing that goes into true story writing, for us then to tell
From the manufactures selling cameras and lenses, web pundits flogging courses and events, and influencers pushing products and services, they all want us to part with oodles of our cash, all underpinned by a meaningless marketing myth, as ever to line their own pockets. So caveat lector. Let the reader beware. The only real yarn in all of this is the fiction of 'photos telling stories' being spun by the marketing people to sell product.