Sunday, March 23, 2014

Storytelling involves conflict

My last post was on the elements of the story. This is just on one of those elements: CONFLICT.

Here are some tips on capturing that for the visual storyteller.

Conflict—The major problem of the story

There are two categories
  1. External—Happens outside the character, involves more than 1 person, can be observed
  2. Internal—Happens inside of the character, involves only 1 person, can only be observed in the thoughts and feelings
Three types of conflict
  1. Man vs Nature [External]
  2. Man vs Self [Internal]
  3. Man vs Man [External or Internal]
Looking at the photos can you decide which of the types of conflict they are communicating?

Using the visual to create conflict is what a visual storyteller does to help move the audience into and through the storyline.

Breaking composition Rules

Breaking the rules of composition to help create even more tension is one way photojournalists help you feel the conflict of a news event like this one of the car wreck.

Natural Barriers

Sometimes you can just photograph using the natural environment to help create a tension. I use this a lot.

Body Language

Now just how the subject looks and carries themselves can help with establishing the conflict necessary in the storyline.

It isn't always over the top and hitting you with a hammer, often the body language is more subtle.

Here it is just the eyes of the child who is suffering from Malaria that grab you.


Sports are great for where you can see conflict.

You can show the offense and defense in one photo.


Just the grimace of a person can introduce some tension into a moment and make you want to know more about the situation.

Have you been in school wondering what is going on or just struggling?

Don't shy away from the photos with tension, they are needed in the storyline.

Not all photos are about a place of peace and calm. Stories require a conflict—are you capturing it? If you are not then are you telling stories?