It’s elementary: every sentence in a story needs a noun and a verb. The swimmer is swimming. The runner is running. The singer is singing.
Those basic elements of sentence structure tell readers all the information they need to know. Yet readers yearn for more. They don’t just want to know the facts, they want to feel something.
Consider these sentences:
The swimmer swam, shivering in the shallow, inky water that glistened in bright moonlight. The runner ran, quivering through the last laps of the steamy summer marathon. The singer sang, crooning with the fierce fervor of a song bird.
Suddenly, readers sense what the characters feel, see and experience. These sentences aren’t simply composed of nouns and verbs, they are peppered with adjectives. Words like inky, bright, steamy, and fierce boldly breathe life into a story. Without adjectives, sentences lack depth; stories lack emotion.
Adjectives are as essential to great photographs as they are to great stories. Any photographer can capture moments that have nouns and verbs. The bride tosses the bouquet. The groom kisses the bride. The best man gives a speech. Each of these obligatory moments can be found in any photographer’s portfolio. They are easy, obvious images that people expect to see.
Photographers who give their clients more than obvious images leverage the power of adjectives. Consider your clients’ favorite photographs. They convey mood and reveal emotion. Just like adjectives elicit emotional responses and make readers feel connected to characters in a story, photographs that elicit emotional responses make viewers feel connected to characters in an image. “Adjective photos” are often more valuable to clients because they are more difficult to discover and capture. It requires a patient, observant professional to catch subtle moments and express emotional relationships. Learn to leverage the power of adjectives and create photographs that keep your clients feeling connected to their images and devoted to your vision.
Written by Rachel LaCour Niesen
After graduating from the University of Missouri, where she studied Photojournalism and Art History, Rachel pursued projects focusing on rural communities in Latin America and the Southeastern United States, amassing accolades as a passionate documentary photographer with a keen eye for the human condition. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2002, Rachel’s captivating photographs of migrant farmworkers were chosen for a book entitled The Human Cost of Food; Farmworker’s Lives, Labor and Advocacy, published by the University of Texas Press.
Rachel’s love for storytelling photography took an intimate turn when she stumbled upon wedding photography by trading her photographic skills in exchange for a custom-designed wedding gown. Quickly trading her front row seat to world history for a front row seat to family history, Rachel started a wedding photography company, LaCour, with husband Andrew Niesen and friend Mark Adams. In a few short years, LaCour became one of the premiere wedding photography studios in the U.S. and soon families the world over caught on to LaCour’s signature style of authentic storytelling through photographs. In 2008, American Photo magazine recognized LaCour’s contributions to the industry by naming them among the “Top Ten Wedding Photographers in the World.”
In 2007 Rachel co-founded ShootQ and now manages the commingled communities of Pictage and ShootQ.