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2013 April — The Meaningful Traveler

April 2013

Stories beyond words – Part 6

by Steve Brock on April 26, 2013

I’ve kept you guessing through this series that looked at how photos can tell stories as much (or sometimes better) than words. We saw how people in the image can add to the narrative, how sometimes you don’t need people in your shots, how black and white images tell a different story than color and how focusing on the details makes for more interesting tales. All along, I asked you to guess where the place was. So here’s the answer (in photos, of course!):

Beer signIf you look closely, you can see the unlit sign for Bar Harbor Real Ale. Now they could serve this beverage anywhere, but what better place than in the town where it is brewed?

Bar Harbor, Main StreetIf you’ve ever been to Bar Harbor, Maine (and neighboring Acadia National Park where the picture of the little girl and the coast were taken), you’ll likely recognize this strip of the main drag of the town.

If you haven’t, while the town itself can be rather touristy, Acadia is beautiful and definitely worth a visit.

I will show you one more image next time from this trip, but hopefully this gives you a brief overview of how photos can tell different kinds of stories on a trip – even one to Maine!

To be continued…

Check out Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 if you haven’t already.



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Stories beyond words – Part 5

by Steve Brock on April 23, 2013

I like the advice in this Wall Street Journal article on how to take better travel photos. The two biggest recommendations?

  1. Focus on the details.
  2. Take time to learn to be a better photographer.

The article provides some great tips on both points. And if you want some additional tips on taking better travel photos anywhere (not just in Machu Picchu), check out this article from the Tips and Tools section.

For now, however, let’s examine the first point and how focusing on the details in your travel photos can help you tell a better story.

Back to our mystery location, here are some detailed shots that help tell the story of the place. The main thing to note is that on their own, as single images, they may be somewhat interesting, but when you put all the details together, that’s when a real story of the place emerges. On your next trip, look for the little things that mean something to you. Realize that when you put them together, those details do add up, often showing a more powerful story than any single image can.

Buoys will be Buoys

This first image reminds me that the location is either by the water or someone there has an interesting collection…

Lobster CagesHere I used black & white because the image was pretty dull in color. You can see the continuation of the nautical theme.

After the mealThis final image shows the end result of the previous two photos. It reflects both the importance of lobster to this place and also the meal my family feasted on while there. That makes it personal to me but also representative of the place to others.

These are just some of the many details I could show from this location. The first photo in the series is another example. But when you see all three of them together, and increasingly in slideshows and on our phones and Facebook pages we’re seeing collections of images rather than single shots, they tell a fuller story than any one picture could. Figure out where this is yet?

To be continued…

Check out Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 if you haven’t already.


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Stories beyond words – Part 4

by Steve Brock on April 18, 2013

We’ve seen how some photos tell better stories with people in them and some work without people.

Now let’s explore what we touched on last time: The different story that a black & white image tells.

Here are two other photos from the same place. By now, if you don’t recognize this place, you probably won’t, but I’ll still keep you guessing!

Pier and Boats

This first image provides context. It tells its own story about the sea or at least one element of that.

This next image is a shot my son Sumner took:

Rope Railing on Pier

If you look closely, you can see that these were taken from roughly the same location. But they tell different stories. They share, however, the same feel achieved through the conversion of each to black & white.

Images work well in black & white when there is strong contrast and interesting shapes and textures. Also, quite frankly, these were shot on a cold, wet morning and there wasn’t much color in the scene anyway. So they tell a better story and make for better photos when done in black & white.

It’s easy these days to convert a digital image to black & white or sepia on your camera or phone or in most photo software programs. So next time you see a scene with a lot of character and strong tonal differences, consider taking it or later making it in black & white. You’ll find that it increases your options for telling visual stories and can make an otherwise blah photo into something quite beautiful.

If you haven’t already seen them, check out these other images and let me know if you’ve figured out where this place is:

Part 1Part 2 and Part 3

To be continued…


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Stories beyond words – Part 3

by Steve Brock April 15, 2013

Many great stories and photos contain people. But not all. Sometimes your photos can tell a better story without a person in them.

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Stories beyond words – Part 2

by Steve Brock April 12, 2013

There’s no one right way to tell a story visually. But there are some principles to consider that will increase the odds of communicating the story you want to convey in an image.

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Stories beyond words – Part 1

by Steve Brock April 10, 2013

Storytelling isn’t always done in words. Learn how to tell stories in your photos and videos and you’ll improve your trip…and your time after you return. This is the first of a series on visual story telling. It’s also a contest of sorts where you have to use the images to figure out the location. Ready?

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Traveling beyond the story

by Steve Brock April 4, 2013

Using the structure of a fairy tale can improve our travel stories. But we may find that the best experiences are are not always best told…

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