The Art of Story Telling


I have always been drawn to images and films that capture the imagination through the use of visual storytelling.  There are photographer’s renown for their stylized ability to transform their subject matter into entities from worlds only conceived in our dreams.

I recently picked up a copy of Brooke Shaden’s book ‘Inspiration in Photography, Train your mind to make great art a habit.’  Although Shaden is known for her heavy use of compositing, her book is refreshingly personable and full of useful information to guide the photographer, who aspires to increase the visual narrative within their photography.

Shaden discusses the importance of using props, costumes, locations and the creation of characters within the concept of an image. One aspect of the book I really appreciate, is the ‘practical pointers’ included at the end of each section and the sharing of useful websites that can aid with location scouting. I feel that the advice Shaden shares with her readers is humble and achievable for every photographer, especially those of us on a tight budget. She makes the dream worlds accessible to all, specifically to those prepared to commit to specific narrative.

The book is full of Brooke Shaden’s fantastical melancholic imagery that is used to support her advice and demonstrate the opportunities, accessible to all innovative photographers. Shaden concludes her book with her ‘Final Word’ …

“If you can imagine something, it can be your reality. That is why photography us such a powerful tool. It gives us a medium with which we can bear our souls, tell the stories of our dreams, or live the life we always wanted to live. It is a vehicle for change, a carrying pigeon of hope, and most importantly, it gives people a voice who might otherwise feel silenced.” (Shaden 186)

By Sarah Hayes

Work Cited

 Shaden, Brooke. Inspiration in Photography: Training Your Mind to Make Great Art a Habit. N.p.:

Focal, 2014. Print.

Shaden, Brooke. Shaden: Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.



Digital Makeup

I was recently scrolling through British Vogue’s website (one of my favorite pastimes) when I stumbled across an interview with portrait photographer Mario Testino.

I have been an avid Testino fan for many years, especially after I experienced his exhibition ‘Portraits’ at The National Portrait Gallery in London in 2002. However, something caught my eye within the interview, regarding the notion of retouching within the photography industry. A close friend shared a unique point of view concerning retouching with Testino …

“The new generation has access to all these tools where you can retouch everything yourself on your phone… I talk to girls who put their selfie’s on their Instagram; they retouch everything, and that’s their prerogative. I mean, people put on makeup, dye their hair, [get] fake teeth, contact lenses. Why not?” (Testino)

Testino is not a huge fan of retouching, it can be seen that he prefers to maintain natural artifacts “To me, something without flaws isn’t exciting. Perfection I find quite boring because it’s not real. It doesn’t have a consequence at the end of the day.” (Testino)

Testino is currently working with Dove in their new campaign, which he describes as “ Working on inclusion.” He goes on to say, “When you retouch skin to perfection, you are excluding a lot of people who could never get to that [ideal]. By allowing all those things to exist, you’re opening that door to make a lot of people believe they are beautiful as well.”

The practice of retouching seems to always get such bad press, yet when I read this interview, it did make me think a lot. We retouch ourselves everyday, through the countless beauty products that are available to us. We want to look our very ‘best’ when we have our photo taken, but why is make up so much more acceptable than digital retouching? If retouching is so demeaning to individuals in the masking of ‘truths’ then why don’t we stand in front of the camera with no make up on? Is this not a little contradictory?



Work Cited

Regensdorf, Laura. "A Legendary Fashion Photographer Talks Real Beauty, Retouching, and Body Positivity on Instagram." Vogue. Vogue, 04 Mar. 2017. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.