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Work in progress: Percussion musician, Isfahan, Iran
Fujifilm X-T3, XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR, f2.2 @ 1/150 second, ISO 3200, composite

Where would we be today without storytelling? We might think of Homer's epics, the backyard gossip about a wealthy woman living down the road, or something written about Christian Fletcher on social media (it wasn't true - or was it)? Our lives are made up of stories.

When it comes to portrait photography, stories can be created in many different ways. We have a wonderful repository of documentary and reportage photography that tells us all about the recent history of our world and generally, these photos are single captures with little post-production. They are what we might call 'real' photographs.

However as we well know, in the world of portraiture, 'reality' isn't necessarily what we are seeing. Scroll down the social media feed for any young woman and you will see thousands of heavily retouched and manipulated portraits. The 'reality' of fashion and beauty is quite different to that of documentary photography, even though both 'are telling a story'. 

When in Iran a couple of years ago, we were given a wonderful presentation by local musicians. As they played, I photographed and my thoughts wafted around with the music. I had the idea of 'composing' a portrait with a story, rather that just recording one. The story is of a woman, with her own thoughts of walking through a grand mosque with a parent - perhaps with an undercurrent of loss or separation. I have no idea why I went the dark and moody approach, except that it's easier to composite images together in the shadows. It's not completely finished yet, but it does point to another way we can use portraiture to tell a story.

In the International Portrait Photographer of the Year Awards, one of the categories is for storytelling and it will be interesting to see what types of storytelling we receive. The competition is similar in design to our International Landscape Photographer of the Year awards, with the top 101 photographs being published in a book. Entries close at the end of the month.

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