Every Photo has a Story, But Then What?

Right now, I am working on fleshing out the website by adding more information about the photos. Telling the stories of the photos or something about their backgrounds. As much as I feel like the images must be able to stand on their own, and as much as I hope that each one does tell a story on its own or spark a story in the mind of the viewer, it feels empty and remiss, almost bordering on hostile to the viewer, to just leave them there with no explanation.

And yet, I think I find myself reluctant to tell the stories of my photos so many times because I don’t want to overrun the viewer’s interpretation. Even though I love to know the stories behind the images I see – it gives me so much more interest and involvement in the picture – I feel like explaining my work to others could take away from their own discovery or contradict what the images come to mean to them on their own and for themselves. You see an image and take it into yourself, along with everything you imagine when you see it, and sometimes, that image and that story becomes a part of your story, the story of who you are and what you dream about. If it moves you enough, it can be part of what shapes who you become.

With some photos, I know that the story gives it much more depth, opens up the creative avenues in viewers to take that seed of a story and run with it. And of course, it’s so much more when there is a series and you can follow the characters in the photos, know something of their lives and their histories. You enjoy the photos because you know the secret behind the image or connect with the “subject” (which is such a cold word and seems to no longer be suitable if you’ve made a connection).

Of course, it’s always about time, right? Finding the time to add the photos to the site. Finding the time to tell the stories. Battling with all the technical aspects of making the website work. Making sure that I add in all the links and information for those who actually want a copy of their own (What’s more frustrating than searching for something and finding it and finding out everything about it except how to actually get it? IF I DO THAT TO YOU, EMAIL ME!).

And then not letting all of that take away the time to take more photos. If I’m not taking pictures, then it’s all for nothing.

I want to get the photos out there. Get them up and make them visible. What’s the point if I don’t do that? I can add the stories later. Adding the stories takes an entirely different kind of thought. Maybe I’ve told the story a thousand times, to people who know me, who know something of the history behind that story. Do I really want to retell everything leading up to it? Does anyone want to read all that? For every single photo. But if I don’t, am I just leaving people even more confused?

That’s what I am working on. I know I don’t want to be at a standstill. I don’t want to stop posting new work here, just because it isn’t available for digital download on Etsy yet, or I haven’t got it up somewhere that does print orders, or I didn’t feel like I had time to include the story.

So, I’m going to make a deal with you. I’ll start getting pictures up faster and if you see something you want, and there isn’t a link to how to get it – email me and I’ll make it happen. If you see a photo that doesn’t have a story and you just want to know more, email me and I’ll write you back. If you just have something to say about my photos or have a question, don’t sit around and wonder, let me know. sandra@sandradaltonphotography.com.

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