The Art Of Storytelling Through Travel Photography

Mary Joseph
Mary Joseph May 24, 2023
Updated 2023/05/24 at 12:50 PM
A beginner guide to travel photography

Various forms of storytelling exist, including written, oral, and digital mediums. Within photography, storytelling often takes the form of a photo essay or photo story, which is widely practised.

If you’ve perused magazines like National Geographic, you’ve likely encountered impressive instances of photographic storytelling on numerous occasions.

In essence, photographic storytelling allows photographers to narrate a story through a sequence of photographs, occasionally even with a single image.

When employing a series of photographs, the images are deliberately arranged to convey stories and elicit emotional and intellectual responses from viewers.

If you’re new to storytelling in photography and eager to learn how to tell stories with your photos, these six fundamentals can be incredibly helpful.

The Art Of Storytelling Through Travel Photography

Effective Planning:

Effective planning is crucial in the visual storytelling process, as it determines how your story will be presented.

It is essential to carefully map out how you intend to portray the narrative you have envisioned. This planning phase should encompass several aspects, including topic selection, thorough research, and the strategic arrangement of diverse and visually captivating shots.

Additionally, incorporating symbols within your images can enhance the clarity of your message.

While shooting, it is common for the actual sequence of capturing photos to deviate from your initial plan. Nevertheless, maintaining an awareness of the intended order can prevent disorder and streamline the editing process for the story.

Furthermore, there is a practical advantage to preplanning your photo shoot. By thoroughly exploring the shooting location prior to the actual session, you can determine the available lighting conditions and necessary equipment, as well as anticipate the weather patterns.

Street photography, which effectively communicates stories through images, is particularly suitable for this approach. Walking around the area beforehand allows you to gain insight into what to anticipate.

When engaging in travel or documentary photography, different locations and their inhabitants have unique narratives to share.

These narratives can serve various purposes, such as entertainment, cultural preservation, or addressing societal concerns to promote moral values.

Acquiring knowledge about the local culture, customs, events, and behaviours of the subjects you intend to photograph can be immensely helpful.

Avoid presuming that everything will go according to plan and that individuals will conform to your expectations. Be ready to handle unforeseen challenges that may arise at any moment.

Single Photo VS Photo Series:

Is it better for a photographer to tell stories through a single image or a series of images? While the answer depends on the storytelling topic, it’s essential to recognize that a single image provides only a partial truth since it cannot convey everything in one photograph.

Although a single frame can be impactful, it represents just a fragment of the larger narrative.

In contrast, a series of photographs enables viewers to engage with each image individually and then link them together to form a coherent storyline.

The initial and final images in a series hold particular significance as they must be compelling enough to captivate the viewer’s complete focus.

When deciding how to convey your message through images, you need to consider two factors: the choice between using single or multiple images, and the type of story you want to tell. There are two options for storytelling: open stories and closed stories.

Open stories provide a captivating experience as they allow both photographers and viewers a great deal of freedom.

These stories can be influenced by the audience’s past emotions and experiences, leading to varied interpretations. On the other hand, closed stories limit open-ended interpretations. They are structured and presented in a straightforward manner to ensure a unified understanding among all viewers.

Strong Feelings:

A beginner's guide to travel photography

Regardless of how technically impressive your storytelling pictures may be, it is crucial for them to evoke strong emotions in viewers.

This emotional impact plays a vital role in creating visually captivating images. Photography goes beyond creating aesthetically pleasing pictures; it involves capturing memorable moments that elicit powerful emotions.

One effective way to convey emotions is through body language, making full portraits of the subjects being photographed an ideal choice.

However, it’s important to note that not all images need to feature human figures or interactions to be emotionally compelling.

Whether it’s a landscape or abstract visuals, what truly matters is their ability to evoke deep emotions within the viewer.

Storytelling images should not only stir powerful emotions but also possess deliberate layers of significance. This aspect of storytelling is challenging as it requires more than just visually appealing pictures.

When choosing and arranging images for a story, the primary consideration should be the intentional layers of meaning they convey.

Choose Colours:

Carefully consider the impact of colours in your storytelling photos to evoke specific emotions. The choice of colour scheme and white balance can be powerful tools for expressing emotions.

Understanding colour theory can assist you in creating impactful and memorable images.

Colour theory is highly influential in photography and can yield satisfying results when effectively utilized in storytelling.

Experimenting with colour schemes, such as warm and cool colours, enables you to swiftly alter the atmosphere in your images.

For example, focusing on a range of reds can intensify feelings of joy, intimacy, passion, or pleasure. Conversely, cool blue hues can convey a sense of calmness or even unhappiness and isolation.

Strive to Tell A Variety Of Stories:

To prevent viewer boredom and showcase strong storytelling skills, it is important to provide a diverse range of shots.

Simply relying on one type of photograph is insufficient in conveying a complete narrative. Attention to detail and adaptability in shooting style and aesthetic preferences are crucial.

To effectively convey a complete narrative, it is crucial to incorporate various types of photographs such as portraits, landscapes, abstract images, wide-angle shots, action shots, close-up details, and others.


Originality may appear undervalued, but it holds significant importance in storytelling photography. Generating a genuinely captivating and unique scenario for your audience is a daunting task in a world saturated with billions of images.

Nonetheless, aiming for originality and distinguishing oneself from the masses is a commendable endeavour.

Narrative Structure:

Stories, whether in written or visual form, require a clear beginning, middle, and end. This also applies to visual storytelling.

If you’re new to making a series of images, you can enhance your storytelling abilities by arranging them in a chronological narrative format.

Similar to a movie, your photo essay should include an opening shot, an establishing shot, interactive and sequential shots, and a closing shot.

However, if you’re interested in exploring more experimental approaches, you’re not obligated to follow these guidelines.

Nonetheless, it’s still important to have a minimal narrative structure in place to help guide your viewers through the captivating pictures.

Photographic storytelling becomes even more captivating with illustrations, which is why photo essays are widely appreciated.

Pictures have the power to surpass words, and illustrations bring stories to life, making them more unforgettable. Therefore, it’s worth investing time in learning the art of sharing stories through photographs.


To create an experimental piece, you can deviate from the rules, but it’s important to maintain a basic narrative structure to engage your audience.

When illustrations are incorporated, storytelling becomes even more captivating, which is why photo articles are universally appealing.

Illustrations breathe life into stories, making them more memorable. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to invest time in mastering the art of storytelling through photography.

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