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Storytelling tips and best practices

5 tips for making better images

• July 2nd, 2015

 1. Drop the mic!

Often times your best tape is also happening at the best visual moment. Luckily, your story will benefit if you’ve captured that moment in audio or images, but if you’re juggling your mic and your camera you might miss the moment completely. So, first things first, put down your microphone and focus on making images.

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Photo by Anthony Kuhn/NPR


2. Get up in there!

When you’re interviewing a subject, where do you hold your microphone? In their face! The same rule applies to images. If you spend all your time shooting from across the street you might end up with some nice images of a place, but you’ll be missing the emotional connection that comes from catching a facial expression or a moment between two people.

Photo by Shereen Marisol Meraji/NPR

Photo by Shereen Marisol Meraji/NPR


3. Shoot a lot, like, SO MUCH

Hey, it’s free! And while they probably won’t use all of your images, your photo editors will thank you. Shooting a ton is especially helpful when capturing interactions, or making a portrait of an especially blinky subject. Just when you think you couldn’t possibly take…one…more…picture… for example with this piece from Frank he filed over 1500 images!

Photo by Frank Langfitt/NPR

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Photos by Frank Langfitt/NPR


4. Change your perspective

Turn around! Sometimes the best image is behind you, or next to you, or under your feet. Plus, changing your perspective helps add visual variety to your images. Get low, get high, shoot through a door or window, spice things up. When you look at your full take of images, are people’s heads all the same size? If so, you didn’t change perspective enough.

Photo by Emma Jacobs/NPR

Photo by Emma Jacobs/NPR


5. Patience is a virtue

There’s no such thing as luck in photography. Getting the shot takes time. Challenge yourself to stick in a scene past the point of comfort. Your best shot is often your last, work it girl!

Photo by Emily Harris/NPR

Photo by Emily Harris/NPR


Becky Lettenberger is multimedia producer a for NPR Visuals.