The Storytelling Shoot
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By Christie Stockstill
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In lieu of creating the longest info page in the history of photography websites, I want to spend a couple of posts getting into the specifics of the types of shoots I do and the prints and products available for each type.  Basically, there are two styles: Signature and Storytelling.


First up, the Storytelling Shoot. It’s what you might choose if you are creative, a bit of a planner, but also want to be a bit spontaneous. If you love happy, sad, sweet, silly, REAL pictures of the ones you love, but you also want a photographer who looks for the magic and beauty of those moments--a photographer who works hard to capture the reality, who anticipates “THE” moments, who knows how to move things along, keep it relaxed and playful, who knows how to keep shooting if things get messy, but who also knows how to redirect seamlessly when necessary, choose ME!  Let’s set up a playdate: you and me, you and your family, you and your friends. 


Together we will plan for location and wardrobe, “set the scene,” so to speak. You will provide the players; I will be the bossy fly on the wall. I will not, for storytelling shoots, spend fifteen minutes setting up a shot, forming your family into a perfect little triangle, tilting heads, turning chins and begging smiles. I will never utter the words, “Say Cheese!”


I will, however, climb, crawl and balance myself in strange and precarious poses to get the best angle. I will move you or your furniture or your dog to set the stage or find the magical light.


If we are done in an hour, fine. If we need to take a break, no problem. If I am with you for three hours, no big deal. We are telling the story of you and yours, and we will take as long as we need to to do it right. 


The Skinny. The Straight Dope. The Fine Print.


Our goal is to capture all the little intricacies, the stolen kisses, knowing glances, uncontrollable laughter and genuine relationships, so it is less effective to set up multiple scenarios, include too many people or have too many wardrobe changes. Since the result is typically around 30 final images, we will want to focus on those images that truly tell that story. 


Now that I have brought up those coveted final images, what will we do with them? I understand that we live in a world and time that is technically savvy, and many will want access to the digital files, in other words, the negatives. For now, at least, I am still offering a digital collection for Storytelling Shoots. The images that result from these shoots tend to remain photographic in nature. In other words, you might get pretty close results to mine if you take your files to a reputable printer to print. If you use a reliable bookmaker, you will have a pretty nice product. Plus, you will fall in love with your final images and you may want to share them as gifts for family or use them for a holiday card or school projects, or whatever... I get it! I do. 


When I do a storytelling shoot, I often have in mind a book. When I am shooting, I am picturing these images and how they will unfold on the pages of a fine art book, not a consumer website book where you can mix iPhone images with point and shoot images, where you fill in little captions or add silly icons and cartoon images. No! I’m picturing a 20 - 30 page book where each one of your images is displayed on fine art paper. I may include a page of poetry or a special quote, but the whole of the book will be lovingly crafted to tell the story we wrote together, one page and one beautiful image at a time.


I am also imagining that photograph of you and your husband laughing uncontrollably matted and framed and hanging in your bedroom. I am picturing how a series of you and your family sharing stories and giggling and snacking in the kitchen would remind you of this special time in your lives if you were to hang say five or six consecutive images around the kitchen table. 


I am thinking how I would love someone to capture me tending to my littlest boy’s skinned knee or picking stickers out of his hands; how I wish someone who knew would be there ready to act fast when my oldest boy lets his guard down for one minute and puts his arms around me. I want someone to capture those fleeting moments between me and my husband when we are running around trying to “control” the situation, but you are paying attention and you grab a shot of us being in love and in the moment, and later our grandkids and theirs will see those images and know that we loved each other. 


Related side note for those families that end in separation or divorce: these shoots are important!! A few years ago I saw some slides  of my mom I’d not seen before. They were images of her taken by my dad. They were maybe seventeen or eighteen years old: playful and cute and obviously in love. 


The way she was looking at him in those photos...  (getting teary-eyed here) 


They got a divorce when I was seven, so I really had no recollection of my mother ever looking at my father that way. 


Ahem... moving on to more about you and your images...


Even with a Storytelling Shoot my goal is for you to come away with a museum-quality, fine art photo--at least one! I have found a local printer I really like. He does amazing work and is happy to redo anything I do not love (not that that has happened yet.) I won’t offer anything trendy like metal prints or prints on bamboo. I won’t add back color to one part of your black and white image. (Sorry. Can’t stand it. It’s a personal thing.) I won’t offer a product that will not last because I want your kids and their kids and their kids to see printed images, to hold them in their hands, to feel the texture of the paper, to turn them over and see what you have written there.  


Your story will be revealed in a style that is a blend of fine art and journalism. Many times the whole set of photographs will be in black and white. On these images, I tend not to use a lot of texture or go too crazy with special effeects in post. 


You're fine with getting a couple of prints, but you want the digital files, too? You’re really into scrapbooking or you need a hundred copies of a particular image? I understand, but as an artist, I refuse to sell you a low-quality print. That is why my prints are priced as they are and why I still allow for the purchase of a digital collection with the Storytelling shoots.


I hope this post served its purpose to more thoroughly describe the nature and goals of A Storytelling Shoot. 


To schedule yours, contact me through the contact form on the blog or email me at  


In a post I will write soon, I will explain in (perhaps) annoying detail why I do not sell digital files for the fine art pieces we create together in the Signature Sessions. 


***Please visit my main website for examples of my work- both Storytelling and Signature shoots.


Examples from two different Storytelling Shoots:

For this shoot, we drove to San Antonio to have a tea party with mom/grandmother. They dressed up, made cocoa, used the special dishes and sampled many delicious cookies.



The whole family drew pictures of each other on this long sheet of paper. Now, they will have artwork they created while we were creating artwork together. Perfect!


This one I liked best in color. It reminds me of an Impressionist painting.

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