Building Photo Narratives With Exposure

Exposure is a brand new platform that gives photographers the ability to build and share visual stories – they call them “photo narratives” – that can be much more engaging than a standard photo gallery. I admit that I was a bit skeptical about Exposure at first; after all, writing and photography are two very different creative endeavors – being good at one doesn’t guarantee success at the other. Then, there is the potential fragmentation of having to populate and update yet another version of your portfolio beyond your main website. That being said, on the plus side of Exposure, there are some really wonderful photos being shared that represent virtually all areas of photography. You’ll find fantastic street photography, dramatic landscapeswildlife and powerful portraiture. However, much of the written “narrative” amounts to little more than lengthy captions, which I think is a missed opportunity by photographers to build a more engaging connection between themselves and their audience.

Writing is a skill – a discipline that requires practice and patience in order to really improve. You had to learn composition, perspective and proportion. You had to practice using strobes and reflectors in order to make more compelling images. Writing is no different. A platform like Exposure allows – or rather expects – you to tell your story. The stories behind your images. And who better to tell your story than you? One of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman, has this to say about telling your own stories: “Tell your story. Don’t try and tell the stories that other people can tell. Because [as a] starting writer, you always start out with other people’s voices – you’ve been reading other people for years… But, as quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only you can tell – because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you … but you are the only you.”

I started actively focusing on becoming a better writer a couple of years ago. While I read a lot of fiction, I started reading books like Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Both of these books helped me to see not necessarily what I was doing wrong as much as what I simply wasn’t doing right. I also recently started Stephen King’s On Writing, which offers another approach at breaking down the tools or building blocks of the craft of writing in order to tell better, more engaging stories. I think Exposure has the potential to be something more than just another place to post your images, but you may need to exercise or refine a different set of skills to get the most out of it.

 

Books We Recommend

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On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

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