Creating a Photo Collage to Tell a Story

Often when I send a sneak peeks to clients I will use a collage to give them an idea of what their gallery will look like. This is one of the more challenging parts of the process. Taking 100+ images and selecting only a handful that will represent the story of a photo session is not easy! It's a great exercise to do with your own photos because it forces you to think about what you are shooting, while you are shooting. Whether you plan to create an album or create a simple collage to share online with friends and family, hopefully these tips will help you.

1) Shoot with intention from the start

Think about having a beginning, a middle and an end. This applies whether you are documenting your 2 week long vacation, a day in your life, or a short activity. How is your story going to start? Where is it starting? Who is participating? What do you want to focus on? What activity or moment is/was the most meaningful? What photo evokes an emotion or sense of connection with what happened? What happens at the end? What is the end result? In the collage above, I took a photo of the 3 of us with the chalk as we were about to get started creating a chalk mosaic. I also took a photo of just the box of chalk before and after we finished, I took photos of us working on the chalk art (there were a lot) but only picked my favourites to include. Taking a good selection means you have more to work with when it's time to put images together.

2) Think about perspective

For the bottom left image, I set up the timer on my camera, placed the camera on the ground and took several shots. It meant I could be included in the story and it gave a different perspective of the scene as opposed to shooting everything from a standing position. Different perspectives will help to create interest when you combine several images. It also helps the viewer feel as though they were there. Think about shooting from above, down low, from a distance or up close. For example, In the collage above I had two photos facing the road where the chalk art was but they feel a bit different because one was shot very low and the other higher.

A little side note: Rules are also meant to be broken. It could be interesting to shoot a series of images from the same perspective and show how the action moves or progresses. Play, think outside of the box, get creative.

3) Create balance

If you are placing several images together, organize them to find a sense of balance. There are lots of ways to do this. You can make your main image larger than the rest to ensure it doesn't fight for attention with the rest. Repeat certain elements like colour or shapes to move the eye through the series. Try to place images that have more visual weight (images that are busier, more colourful, darker etc) towards the bottom. If you use images that imply movement or have strong lines that lead the eye, place these so that they move inward towards the images as opposed to the side. For example, in the photo with the two girls biking, they are moving to the left which is towards the other images in the collage.

These are just a few tips and there are so many ways to put images together. I hope this helps!

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