Details are all around us. From furniture to flowers to decorations and play toys these details reflect who we are and help tell our story. Open any magazine or online blog and beautiful images of details will abound.
The role of details in storytelling photography is similar to that of a supporting character in a novel in that they give the viewer information about the main character. Details can be documented on their own, however when combined with a hint of the character they belong to details have even more power and context.
Look for details like clothing, toys, furniture, and even whole houses and bedrooms. Many of these things have intense value in the present yet will be quickly forgotten in the future. Delight in them now and document them for years to come. Imagine having a good laugh in the future as you remember the “lovie” that went everywhere with you or the clothing that was your favorite then but is clearly out of style now.
These two images highlight various details in and around a home. An antique piano and two car seats both tell a story. Yet adding tiny hands playing the keys take this from a generic piano that could be in any home and makes it into the story of a beloved instrument. Two car seats and baby toys tell a story but daddy holding one of the little ones leads me to imagine him trying to juggle both babies. It is now a story.
In both of these images I wanted to make pictures that showed the favorite toys of these little ones. Instead of pictures of them alone adding them in the background sitting only the way a little one can sit or with tiny fingers on the toys adds depth and richness to the images.
Document the details like their jungle gym or their personalized chairs. Wait for them to sit or play. Yes, wait. Waiting for these moments instead of posing gives the images authenticity. It adds feeling and heart to an image the way posing and smiling for the camera doesn’t.
Don’t forget little feet and little toes. Even better if they sit on a really cool carpet. Details are a part of, but not the focus of, a beautiful life. Watch for ways those details enhance and thread through our lives. Delight in those and then document them.