Does Every Picture Tell a Story?

Fine Art Photography

I hear it often “every picture tells a story”. Well, does every picture tell a story?

Photographers are often told that a story or description should accompany every photograph to help viewers connect with their image. This may be true for journalists, but is it also true for fine art photography? While viewers may be interested in certain details and specific locations, I don’t agree that it is necessary to provide a story for every photograph.

My goal is simple. I photograph things in nature which convey to me a sense of peace, beauty, or wonder. The images come from my heart. Some of them have stories but most do not. They merely capture a special moment in time. Hopefully they are moments that others can relate to without an accompanying story.

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I rely on my photographs to speak for themselves. For instance, I have sat in my bird blind or pulled my car near trees to capture photographs of birds. I’m not really doing anything except enjoying the peace of nature and the company of wildlife, while they go about their daily routine. Every once in a while a bird will fly in close and look at me as if it had stopped to say “hello”. Aside from what camera settings I used, I’d be hard pressed to tell a story about that.

My ‘Conspicuous Bandit’ raccoon image is one of the few that does have a story because the female raccoon nested in a tree near our home. I was able to observe her poking her head out of this hole for weeks. She would only climb out once in a while to relieve herself, and then promptly return to her babies. There were days that were very hot and she looked uncomfortable hanging out of the tree. However, it was the look in her eyes that I relied upon to convey her story. If you are a parent you know what a daunting task it is to keep babies happy and fed. The story simply ends when I heard a clatter outside one night. I flipped on the light to find three baby raccoons raiding my bird feeder. They rushed across our driveway and climbed a telephone pole. Then proceeded to peek at me from behind the pole like animated Disney characters. I suppose they lived happily ever?

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I admit I’m not an accomplished writer, it takes a great deal of time to gather my thoughts and write them all down. You’ll never find long explanations about how I created a photograph because there aren’t any. My nature photography is meant to convey what I have difficulty saying in words. The eyes are windows to the soul. I look for direct eye contact with animals, or postures which display human-like characteristics. I rely on my photographs to speak for themselves, but more importantly they speak for me. If my images weren’t doing that, then I would throw my camera away.

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Walk softly, let nature be your guide…

Christina Rollo
Fine Art Photographer