Exerpted from Photography Wisdom - A Practical Guide To Successful Photography and Self Expression, By Wayne J. Cosshall, available in both book and app for iPad forms

For this image the story is not only how my small torch was used to paint by light the seaweed on the rocks but how this little torch was essential to stumbling my way back over the rocks in the pitch black to find the car.

This image has a story of a migic night of alfresco dining with a group of friends in a park in Barcelona. Stories don't have to be eloborate, they just add interest.

The image above has the simple story of how this particular location, the Chinese Garden at Darling Harbour in Sydney, is a favourite place to shoot whenever I am in Sydney and how I always find its peace and serenity recharges me after a usually hectic time doing whatever has brought me up to Sydney.

This shot was taken in the bush fire ravaged areas of Victoria comes with the story of how strangely quiet the bush was, unnaturally so in fact, with so much wildlife either dead or pushed by the fire into other areas.


Pick a couple of images and create stories for them. The stories can be real or made up, but real ones will always work better as you will tell them better. Find a couple of people as a test. Show them these images with stories and a pair of similar images that have no story. See which ones the subjects like the most.

Implement a system to capture these image stories while they are fresh in your mind. Five years later when you decide to exhibit it you may have forgotten the funny thing that happened when you shot it. Ideally integrate it with your image cataloguing system.

You can use the meta data facility of Photoshop to add a text note to an image, use a notebook that is keyed to the image number (you do have a sensible numbering system for your images, don't you?) or add it to some other filing system.

40. Every Image Has a Story

When it comes to selling your photography and art there is one great aid. Make sure that you have a story about or involving each image. People love a story.

It is easy for those of us who are serious about making images, whether photography or art, to forget why other people buy images. We are focused on the beauty of the image, or its symbolic meaning, the process used to create it or whatever, so we often forget to see things from the buyers' perspectives.

So why do people buy art? Well there are, of course, many reasons, perhaps as many as there are buyers. But broadly we can say that some will buy purely for their own enjoyment, some from a collector's mentality and others to enhance their surroundings.

No matter the personal motivation, most people who buy art will, in some way, share it with other people in their lives. It may be a conversation with a friend over coffee, down at the gym or while picking the kids up from school or at a dinner party. Describing images is a challenge for most people. But telling a story comes naturally to many. If the artwork has a story attached to it, it makes life much easier.

At gallery openings I have a tendency to watch the artist. I guess all photographers are voyeurs, but I find it very enlightening. Many of the artists and photographers that I see doing very well from exhibition sales know how to spin a yarn. As they chat with potential buyers they have an interesting story about every image in the show, "You know, when I shot this..." or "I have to tell you this about this image, I had a proof hanging in my studio and ...". You can see the way it changes how the potential buyer views the work. Now I am sure few are directly thinking "Wow, if I buy this I will have a great story for my next dinner party", though some will. For most, I think that it draws them into a deeper engagement with the work, adds depth and interest and increases the feeling that they just must have that image, that their life will be the lesser if they have to let it go. This same idea holds in other venues than galleries: it is applicable at art fairs and markets, online and in a portrait or wedding studio (helped here by the buyer's own stories about the images). Obviously the length of the story and how much time you have to tell it needs to be different in these varying contexts, but the idea is the same.

Selling is still selling and it is easy for artists and photographers to lose sight of this about their work. Sometimes people need just one more reason to buy. Make sure you give it to them.

My image Road to Elysium took six months to produce because when I came up with the idea it was not when the wheat was growing. I had to wait to get the shots I wanted up to six months. It makes for a great story.

This image, and ones from the same shoot, have the story of how I have ALWAYS become lost when at Hanging Rock, a place in central Victoria made famous by the movie Picnic At Hanging Rock. Seriously, every single time I have been there I have become disoriented and lost, ending up finding my way back down by some strange path. This started with a school trip there in my early teens and has continued up to the present day with multiple trips there for photography.

Those figures are actually nuns in full habit who suddenly appearred on the trail in front of me, making for a short but interesting story.