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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but depending on how you compose it, it may or may not tell a story. I am standing out here on the now-new shoreline of Lake Altus-Lugert, which is the lake right behind the Quartz Mountain Lodge. Oklahoma is in the middle of one of the worst droughts it's had in decades and normally, the water would be about 30 feet above my head. The lake is down to about 25% capacity and as it has receded, it's left a lot of dead fish. So we have been walking around seeing this dead fish, and they are just down to white skeletons. And they are very pretty objects.
They have nice repetition in them. They cast nice shadows in the morning, light particularly when the sand itself has gotten real texturey. I can take a picture of one of these dead fish. It's kind of hard not to. They are pretty compelling. I might get something like this. Sure enough, that's a picture of a dead fish, and that's about it. It's not a particularly interesting picture. I could maybe go in closer and turn it into more of an abstract picture of a dead fish, but this is just a fish skeleton in sand. There's no real story here. If it wasn't on sand, it would probably be even less compelling.
It would just look like garbage that had fallen out of a trashcan or something. I can make one simple change though and really alter how this photo works. If I come around in front and take another picture, I get this. This is an image that has a little more narrative. I can see possibly that the shoreline has receded. Pair this with some words and I have a really solid story. Even on its own, it's got more of a story than just a fish in sand. This is a picture of a lake that is receding and leaving behind a lot of dead animals.
Sure, a lot of times narrative, strong narrative, requires you to shoot multiple shots of a location or an event or a person to build out an essay about them. But you want to try to work as much as possible within a single frame to give as much context as possible to try to build up narrative when it's appropriate.
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