WHAT DOES THE SMALLER STORY LOOK LIKE?
It depends, in part, on the bigger picture or place. It’s incredibly relative. If we’re talking about a field of wildflowers, the smaller story is found in the singles and the small bouquets. It is found in the butterfly feeding on nectar, the caterpillar eating leaves, the birds perching and flying among the sunflowers. It is found in the petals and leaves and ladybugs. If we’re talking about the rural landscapes (common scenes where I live), then it is made up of different elements. It is found in the barns, fences, tractors, farm implements and parts and pieces of all of these. It is found in the fields filled with crops of the region and the season. It is found in the farm animals – cows, horses, goats, chickens – and all that comes with them. Think of the feeding stations, the metal buckets, wooden crates. The smaller story is even found in the farmer and farmhands working the land.
You can find the smaller story, even if you’re most comfortable with the grander landscapes. You just might have to work a little harder if doing so doesn’t come naturally to you. For me, breaking down those scenes is easy. And, the beauty of this approach is that I’m not locked into a timetable of the “best light, best time” scenario. It’s the same for you. All day long, every day, there is something to see and discover and capture. Yes, “great” light is magical, but it isn’t on a menu for us to order up whenever we want it. We need to be able to capture images that speak to us and be in the moment no matter what light we’re given.
Look for the good stuff. Use the tools we have to add, hold back or change the impact of the given light. Some words of encouragement that follow, and a few practical tips for finding the smaller stories, may help you come away from almost any shooting experience with images that you really like, that surprise you (given what you may have had to work with), and a greater appreciation for the “smalls.” You can do this, and you can learn to do it well.