All photographs, images and text are copyright Paul Ligas Photography Limited 2020.

Telling a story with photographs

The Great West Run

A couple of years ago I took photographs at the Great West Run in Exeter, a half-marathon run annually since 1985. It draws participants from across the region, plus a large crowd of enthusiasts and spectators.

I knew I would get some interesting images of the athletes preparing and running in the race, but photographs of races are all fairly similar: steely gazes of concentration, the grimace at the finishing line. So I decided to tell the story of the Great West Run without showing any faces – I’d let people’s body language express the tension building to the start of the race, the athleticism of the runners and the exhaustion at the end.

As a fine art project I did some post-processing on the photographs. I enhanced the vividness of the photos with my own custom Lightroom preset to bring out the multitude of colours and bring extra vibrancy and life to the story. This was helped by having bright, spring sunshine.

Telling a story of an event becomes easier if you know that’s what you’re going to do when the photography begins. It’s easier to notice themes if you’re already thinking about themes, and you can then take best advantage of them as the shoot progresses. Trying to tell a story with a group of disconnected photographs is just more difficult.

The following set of seven photographs summarises the race in a more engaging way than just a number of almost random images. When people are engaged with photographs they subconsciously start to tell their own stories about them. That makes the memorable and appealing. This applies to some degree to all photographs, but it’s easier to grasp when people are in the photos and doing the story telling. Even if you can’t see their faces.

About the photographer

The Photographer SmallPaul Ligas is a professional commercial photographer based in Herefordshire, and working across the West Midlands and the UK. Follow on Twitter and Facebook.