Telling the story

  • Published
  • By Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
  • JBER Public Affairs
Lightning flashes deep in the clouds as rain thunders down on the roofs of buildings and creates large puddles on the ground. The electricity zapping through the air is the only natural light source in that area as the moonlight is blocked by the dark clouds above. Time goes on, dawn approaches and the rain stops; the clouds begin to dissipate.

The mixture of fresh humidity in the air, the clouds and the rays of light as the Earth rotates so the sun is visible on the horizon cast a rainbow illusion against the snow-capped mountains, a breathtaking sight seen only by early risers such as those out for a run before work.

Other early risers are out as well -- photographers. Perhaps not professional, official photographers taking photos for an organization or company, but those with an interest or passion for photography get up to take advantage of the beautifully lit scene.

With today's digital technology, it's easy to take reasonably good photos. The computer in the camera offers the option for it to do most of the work for the photographer. I often use these techniques myself, and I'm one of the official installation photographers.

I went to a Public Affairs workshop a few years ago in San Antonio where the theme for the week was that we're not just photographers, or journalists, or videographers; we're storytellers. We need to be familiar and comfortable with the different mediums. That's a good idea even if you're doing it for fun.

When you're out capturing stories, consider your mission. The PA mission is to tell the military story to our military and to the public. We have something in common: we all have to customize our work for our intended audience. The audience that we're producing for makes a huge difference in the type of product needed.
If you're taking pictures just for fun, try different times of the day. Focus on people, maybe your family and friends. If you're practicing and wanting to get better, there are some things to consider.

Is it a photo just to put on your personal social media page, or something you're hoping will go viral? Is it something written that's intended for some friends to read and nobody else, or a release meant to tell the world something important? What your story is intended for makes a difference. Is it for personal enjoyment or to publish to mainstream media outlets? Some things need to get authorized first, or at least a little operational security applied.
Are you trying to improve your skills? Do you know what to look for?

If it's a photo, what shutter speed, F/stop and ISO are being used? What lens and filter are being used? Is the camera in program, aperture, shutter priority or manual mode? How would you compose the photo? Why? If it's being written for publishing, is the Associated Press style guide or the inverted pyramid being applied? If it's for literature or school, is MLA or APA style being applied? If it's bullet writing for a performance report or award package, what acronyms and grading system are being used? If it's video, is sequencing being used? Is the audio clear and without too much background noise? There are several options and tools to get the job done.

The pen is mightier than the sword; a picture is worth a thousand words; video makes stories appear to come to life. I recommend rounding yourself with these different story-telling tools.

These three mediums are all different tools to tell the story with, and stories are everywhere. Creative angles and artistic perspective can make just about anything look interesting.

If you're up in the early morning hours because you want to capture the beauty, or whenever and wherever the situation may be, remember there are more options out there. Don't limit yourself to just one way to tell a story. If the story is worth being told, it's worth being told well.