If you've been around my blog very long you know that the story of a layout is at least as important as the photos and sometimes, moreso. I know most people start a page by choosing the photo(s), but sometimes what is unseen is as meaningful as the image.
Case in Point: this photo from one of my clients--Rick (posted with his permission).
To the casual observer or someone who doesn't know them at all, this is a great photo. Obviously a happy little girl who loves being with her Daddy (and maybe she has pretty much captured his heart). :) Technically great photo. Frame-worthy. Warm. Casual. Peaceful. Unrushed.
When I first saw this photo, it yanked on my heart. Maybe it's the daddy/daughter thing. Maybe it just seems so much like a moment that was special in it's normalcy. Don't you just wonder what little-girl wisdom she was sharing with him as she sat on his lap? And what does she treasure enough to carry in her purse? Where were they about to go? Was it a special day? Were they waiting on Mommy to come down the stairs?
All these questions made me crave the unseen story. At first glance, it looks like someone got lucky with a quick, just-happeded-to-be-holding-the-camera-at-the-right-moment shot...but that's not the case. What I later learned was that getting this shot wasn't an easy accomplishment. It took a tripod and several attempts to get it just right, but he took the time to set it up and was rewarded for his efforts with this very sweet picture.
Lesson #1 learned: Not every shot taken with a tripod has to look over-posed and stiff. A tripod can be a very useful tool, when there's no one around to help.
Lesson #2 learned: Don't neglect the unseen story. It doesn't have to be earth-shattering or even extremely story-like. Perhaps it's just a simple detail that turns out to be indicative of a person's character or the strength of a relationship. The words of a layout can bring those things that might otherwise go unseen straight to the forefront--giving the photo deep meaning and context. The unseen story can give a great photo an amazing amount of dimension and depth and personality, if only we choose to write the story.