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Reframing photography in an insta-snap world

Photography is a universal medium, speaking at least a thousand words in any language. We quizzed two of our favourite photographers, remotely of course, about what makes a great photo and why it’s a powerful communication tool. Ibiza based street photographer Rhyan Paul gives us his take on the art of capturing real life stories and Gianandrea Traina, photographer at Storytellers London shares some of his iconic shots for real life brands.

Take to the streets to really see the world around you

A single photograph can instantly portray an entire story, evoke a full range of emotions and bring back memories in a flash [soz]. In these ever changing and challenging times it is more relevant than ever to capture how you see the world at that moment, it’s a document for the future. What do these shots tell you? We’ve left them untitled to free your mind...

Photo creds: Rhyan Paul

From good to great

The standard answer for what makes a great photo is composition, the right exposure, lighting, the correct point of focus, interesting colour or tonality and a compelling subject matter. However, some of the most iconic photographs ever taken are underexposed, blurry or with poor lighting - yet somehow they tell an incredible story. A photo is a 500th of a second snapshot of what passes through the frame. It's not only what you choose to keep in the frame, but also what you choose to leave out.

“For me, a great photo is either one that takes the viewer by the hand and tells an obvious story or one where it’s more of a puzzle, the clues within the image allow them to freestyle and invent their own interpretation of the action. Both ways are about inspiring curiosity and grabbing that fleeting attention as we scroll on by to the next incredible shot in our feeds.” Rhyan Paul

Do you need your own photography?

There’s a vast array of paid for stock images and free image libraries out there which integrate neatly with design tools, it’s all too easy to find a good enough image. We get stuck into the chewy subject of owning your own photography. At the risk of stating the obvious, if you don't need a picture of Megan Markle and sell products, then having a bank of beautiful packshots or campaign imagery is absolutely key for your brand. Be it for your e-commerce, socials or PR it can set you apart from your competitors. Check out these stunners from Storytellers London's Gianandrea Traina:

Buffalo trainer
Photo creds: Gianandrea Traina, Storytellers London

If you’re more about services and the amazing people you have in the team then decent headshots can be so impactful. There’s a real vulnerability about having your photo taken, some people find it excruciating so it’s down to the skills of the photographer to change the vibe and capture the essence of that person.

Isn’t everyone with a smartphone a photographer?

We are all creators, armed and ready to shoot. There is however a little more craft in the mix and Gianandrea summarises it neatly here:

"Digital cameras and smartphones have better technology than ever before, but there's more to great photography than simply having the latest tech. Creating a professional image is about technique, experience, and vision; it’s the difference between having a great idea and being able to execute it in a way that shows your product in its best light, literally!" Gianandrea Traina, Photographer at Storytellers London

Our marketing tip is don’t forget to include photography in your brand guidelines, there’s often a lot of love spent on logos, icons, palettes and fonts with little attention paid to the photographic style of the brand. Something as simple as a filter and backgrounds for your headshots could bring the team harmoniously together without losing their uniquely human qualities.

Check out the talented team at Storytellers London and discover the phenomenal work of their charity The Photography Foundation is doing to bring a diverse generation of new photographers into the industry. If street’s your thing, have a nosey at Rhyan Paul’s body of work and look out for his new show, "Stories From The Streets" - coming to Ibiza’s most creative of radio stations Open Lab.

Words by Melissa Fretwell, founder and photography super fan at White Camino.

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