Lesson from the Scene: A Memory Jogger or Communication?

by Stanley Leary

Many of us make photos of our friends and family. When we look at these photos, memories pour into our thoughts. These photos are memory joggers. For those not present when family photos are made, the question is, will relatives know what’s going on or what the photos are trying to say?
One of the points I always make about how to improve your photography is comparing pictures to writing. Photos are like sentences—every sentence must have a subject and a verb. Every photo needs these same elements. 
Unsuccessful photos are often like run-on sentences. What’s the point of the photo? Where is the subject? What is going on? 
Improve your grammar
The best way to improve your grammar is to start simple, then add elements. The best way to improve your photos is to keep it simple. 
Move in close to eliminate distracting details from the viewfinder. Try looking all around the subject, then start cropping extraneous elements out of the photo. 
Watch for busy foregrounds and backgrounds.
Action is important. It’s the verb part of the photo. 
The best way to make a photo is first to put it into a sentence. It’s much easier to compose if this is all you’re saying when making the image.
The problem with most failed photos is the photographer forgetting to think about what needs to be said in the image. 
Remember, photos that communicate, say something to the viewer before the shutter is pressed.