The Fundamentals of Storytelling Photography

Mavic 3 Pro and Mavic 3 Classic

Taking pictures and telling stories may not seem directly related at first. Still, often the best images tell stories or invite the viewer to wonder about the story behind the photograph. As with other media, the goal of storytelling in photography is often to affect the viewer’s emotions, intellect, or both. Affecting the viewer can be done through a single photograph or a photo series. While this article will mainly focus on storytelling in photography, we’ll also touch on how visual elements aid storytelling in video format. There are four fundamentals to examine in greater detail. We’ll also look at four common categories photos generally fall into and how aerial drone photography fits these storytelling fundamentals and standard categories.

Mavic 3 Pro drone

Photography Storytelling Genres

Of course, there are ways to train your creative muscle and eyes to find a subject to use in the story you want to tell. Professional photographers choose subjects that trigger their interest and inspire them. It can be anything from a raindrop to the Taj Mahal. You can find inspiration by checking out the works of famous photographers as well. Remember that an essential thing in storytelling photography is that the subject must inspire you. If you don’t find your subject interesting, nobody else will. Your subjects can come from many different categories, so let’s look at four common categories many photographs use to find their subjects.

drone landscape photography
Jing Yan

Landscape Photography

Landscape photography captures the beauty of nature and scenery, focusing on wide-angle shots of landscapes, seascapes, and cityscapes. In storytelling photography, landscape shots can set the scene and create an atmosphere for the story.

Wildlife Photography

Wildlife photography focuses on capturing animals in their natural habitats, showcasing their behavior, and highlighting their unique characteristics. In storytelling photography, wildlife shots can help convey the story’s theme and message.

Architecture Photography

Architecture photography focuses on capturing the beauty of buildings, structures, and cityscapes. In storytelling photography, photographers can use architectural shots to show the setting and environment of the story or convey a sense of place and history.

Portrait Photography

Portrait photography is about capturing an individual or group’s personality, emotion, and character. In storytelling photography, photographers can use portraits to introduce and showcase the story’s characters and convey their feelings and motivations.

architecture drone photography
Cuno de Bruin – Mavic 3 Pro

Key Photography Fundamentals and Storytelling

ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, and Focus

Let’s first quickly examine each of these fundamentals in technical terms and then see how they can be used to augment your storytelling as a photographer.

  • ISO refers to the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light.
  • Aperture refers to the size of the opening in your camera’s lens that lets in light.
  • Shutter speed refers to the time your camera’s shutter is open, allowing light to reach the sensor.
  • Focus refers to the clarity and sharpness of the subject in your photo.

Controlling your ISO manually helps in low-light conditions to capture mood and atmosphere. High ISO creates a grainy look, which may allow for gritty urban night photography, it that’s what you’re trying to convey.

When it comes to aperture, using a shallow depth highlights subjects and blurs backgrounds, which can be helpful for emphasizing specific elements you want the viewer to notice about your photo story. A deep depth of field captures sharp, detailed landscapes, which may help the viewer understand the setting of your photo story.

A fast shutter speed can freeze a speeding car, while a slow speed can create a sense of motion blur to show the scene’s pace and energy; it depends on what kind of story you want to tell with your image.

By adjusting the focus, a photographer can emphasize the story’s subject and control the photograph’s composition. Selective focus, for instance, can highlight the eyes of a portrait subject, creating a sense of intimacy and emotional connection with the viewer.

Hopefully, you have a better idea about how these four fundamental components of digital photography will help you tell stories more compellingly. Next, we’ll look at four basic composition principles that, when used in conjunction with the four fundamentals, will help elevate your storytelling even further.

low light drone photography
Luca Putzer – Mavic 3 Classic

Composition Rules to Improve Your Story Telling

Four important composition rules to learn, use, and break when necessary.

  1. The rule of thirds guideline suggests dividing the frame into thirds horizontally and vertically and placing the subject at one of the points where the lines intersect. Following the rule of thirds improves the composition by making it more visually interesting and balanced, drawing attention to the subject and creating a stronger visual narrative.
  2. Leading lines is a compositional technique that uses lines within an image or video to guide the viewer’s eye towards the main subject or point of interest. These lines can be actual lines in the environment or implied lines created by placing objects within the frame. Using leading lines, a photographer can create a sense of depth and draw the viewer’s attention to the story you want to tell.
  3. Symmetry in your composition can create a sense of balance and order in your image or video. You can try placing your subject or objects in a way that creates a reflection or mirrors the image on either side of the frame. In storytelling photography, symmetry can help convey a sense of harmony or unity in the photo’s story. Additionally, symmetry can draw the viewer’s attention into the frame and create a focal point for the story.
  4. Depth of field refers to the area of focus in an image or video and can create a sense of depth and dimension in a composition. It can be used in storytelling photography to isolate a subject, create a sense of depth, or convey a particular mood or emotion. For instance, a shallow depth of field can be used to create a dreamy, romantic atmosphere in a portrait, while a deep depth of field can be used to capture the intricate details of a landscape.
Composition rules in aerial photography
Luca Putzer – Mavic 3 Classic

What to look for when telling a story?

Photography can uniquely tell stories and convey powerful emotions through a single image. A photographer can create a narrative that resonates with the viewer by thoughtfully composing a photograph and choosing elements such as lighting, color, and subject matter. To tell stories with your photos, follow these steps:

  1. Consider what message or emotion you want to convey and then use composition techniques such as framing, depth of field, and leading lines to guide the viewer through the scene, as mentioned above.
  2. Think about the context of the image and how it fits into a larger story or series of photos if you want to tell a story with more than one photo.
  3. Choose the right subject to create a compelling image. One way to choose a subject is to consider what interests you and what you are passionate about. Once you have a subject in mind, observing and studying it before taking any pictures is important. This will help you identify the best angles and perspectives to capture your subject in a unique and visually exciting way.
  4. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different compositions and settings when you start taking photos. Remember, the more you practice and refine your technique, the better your photos will become. And always remember the story you want to tell with your photo – this will help guide your decisions on capturing your subject.
leading lines photography
Cuno de Bruin – Mini 3 Pro

Storytelling in Aerial Drone Photography

Incorporating drone storytelling into aerial photography can be a powerful way to capture stunning visuals while conveying a narrative. When taking drone shots, consider the overall story you want to tell and how the landscape and subject matter can help convey that narrative. Aerial photographs can provide a unique perspective and can be used to showcase a sense of scale or highlight patterns and textures. Use movement and direction to guide the viewer’s eye through the scene, and consider using a combination of wide-angle and zoom shots to add variety to the visual storytelling. Lastly, be mindful of the drone’s noise and potential disturbance to wildlife and the environment, and always prioritize safety when operating a drone.

storytelling in drone photography

4 Best Camera Drones for Storytelling Aerial Photography

Mavic 3 Pro

The DJI Mavic 3 Series features next-level imaging performance. Equipped with a Hasselblad camera and dual tele cameras, Mavic 3 Pro is a triple-camera drone that unlocks new shooting perspectives, allowing you to embrace creative freedom further, capture fascinating scenery, explore photographic storytelling, and make cinematic masterpieces. The 70mm, and 166mm equivalent lenses make optical zoom at 3x and 7x not only possible but crisp, detailed, and dramatic.

One camera drone, three lenses, and infinite imagination. Mavic 3 Pro, with the triple-camera’s multiple focal lengths, can achieve an even richer camera language and fully express creative storytelling with superior multi-scenario capabilities. Easily incorporate distinct composition styles for different scenarios and turn your inspiration into ingenuity with the improved efficiency of tri-camera aerial storytelling photography.

Mavic 3 Pro closeup
Cuno de Bruin – Mavic 3 Pro

Mini 3 Pro

Introducing the DJI Mini 3 Pro, the compact and powerful drone that takes your photography and videography to new heights. With its 4K camera and 3-axis gimbal, the Mini 3 Pro captures stunning and stable aerial footage with ease. Whether you’re a professional photographer, a travel blogger, or a hobbyist, this drone is the perfect tool for capturing breathtaking landscapes, wildlife, architecture, and more.

The Mini 3 Pro’s advanced features also make it ideal for storytelling photography. With its intelligent modes like QuickShot and ActiveTrack, you can effortlessly follow and capture moving subjects, create dynamic tracking shots, and reveal the story behind the scene. Additionally, the drone’s compact size and portability allow you to easily take it anywhere, giving you the freedom to tell your story from any perspective.

Mini 3 Pro

Mavic 3 Classic

The DJI Mavic 3 Classic is a powerful and versatile drone that combines advanced technology with a compact design, making it the perfect tool for capturing stunning aerial photos and videos. With a 4K camera and 3-axis gimbal, the Mavic 3 Classic allows you to capture smooth, cinematic footage from a unique perspective. This drone also features advanced obstacle avoidance technology and a range of intelligent flight modes that make it easy to fly safe and capture stunning shots.

In terms of story telling photography, the Mavic 3 Classic can be used to capture breathtaking aerial views of landscapes, cityscapes, and other environments that can help to set the scene and create a sense of place. Additionally, the drone’s advanced camera technology and intelligent flight modes can be used to capture dynamic shots of moving subjects or to create time-lapse sequences that help to convey the passage of time or tell a story.

Mavic 3 Classic
Luca Putzer – Mavic 3 Classic

DJI Air 2S

Introducing the DJI Air 2S, a great camera drone for capturing stunning aerial shots. Equipped with a 1-inch CMOS sensor and a 3-axis gimbal, this drone can capture 20-megapixel still photos and 5.4K video at 30fps. With a maximum flight time of 31 minutes and an obstacle sensing system, you can explore and capture the world from new angles with ease.

The DJI Air 2S is an excellent choice for storytelling photography, allowing you to capture breathtaking aerial footage that can help set the scene and create a sense of place. With its powerful camera and obstacle sensing system, you can easily capture stunning landscapes, architectural shots, and even portraits from above. The Air 2S also features a range of intelligent features, including ActiveTrack, Spotlight, and QuickShots, which can help you tell your story in a creative and dynamic way.

DJI Air 2S
Shortstache – DJI Air 2S
Creativity is at the heart of every dream. At DJI, we give creators the tools they need to bring their imagination to life. Our products push visionaries to go beyond the limits of possibility, inspiring them to see the world from a brand new perspective.