National Photography Month: The Power of Visual Storytelling

National Photography Month: The Power of Visual Storytelling

Photography is our favorite form of storytelling. Behind every photo is a lasting memory, a moment frozen in time.

No matter the genre or speciality, there’s always something to learn from photography, too. It’s a universal language, yet everyone has the opportunity to walk away with something unique – whether it’s a lesson learned, a smile, or a new perspective. And that’s just one reason why we love photography.

Below are stories of wanderlust and world travel, personal reflection and artistic expression, exciting celebrations in the world of pro sports, and intimate cultural moments and traditions from across the globe.

We’re grateful for Sara Kempner, Julia Wimmerlin, Azim Khan Ronnie, Brace Hemmelgarn, Essdras M. Suarez, Chris Mast, and Zay Yar Lin, this talented group of photographers and PhotoShelter members who shared these stories with us in honor of National Photography Month.

Scroll down to read through their photo submissions and follow us on Instagram (@PhotoShelter) to see more of their work!

Cover image by Azim Khan Ronnie

Sara Kempner

This image was taken on a trip to the Faroe Islands, an 18-island archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean. The time of day was late afternoon, and the sun was bright. I used a 10-stop filter to cut down on the light and allow for a longer exposure. 

The landscapes of the Faroe Islands are so epic that it can almost be hard to capture their true grandness. For this image, using the human element helped to provide a sense of scale for this rugged coastline and waterfall cascading into the ocean below.

Julia Wimmerlin

This is from my series “Travel freedom during the pandemic.” When a travel photographer finds herself in 2021 unable to travel…she starts something else. I concentrated on learning to shoot fine art portraits and visual stories. Finally, when I could travel to a seaside destination, this self-portrait summed up all three of my genres.

It was still a travel photo through a fine art portrait, telling a story about the freedom to travel (or lack of) during the pandemic – playing with the symbols of danger, shields and protection, freedom and happiness.

Azim Khan Ronnie

Devotees attend prayer with burning incense and light oil lamps before break fasting during a religious festival called Rakher Upobash or Kartik Brati in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Bengali people of the Hindu faith in Bangladesh sit in prayer celebrating the 18th century Hindu Saint Baba Lokenath with a ‘Rakher Upobas’ prayer and fast day. Every year thousands of Hindu devotees gather in front of Shri Shri Lokenath Brahmachari Ashram temple for the Kartik Brati or Rakher Upobash religious festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Faithfuls sit in front of candles (named locally as Prodip) and absorb in prayer.

Brace Hemmelgarn

Working with the Twins, we have the opportunity to shoot a multitude of other sports and concerts in our ballpark every year. Being a hockey fan, it was cool to host the 2022 NHL Winter Classic on January 1, 2022 at Target Field.

Knowing a variety of shots from this event would be used throughout the ballpark in the future, my goal was to capture a ballpark shot that was more than a general overall shot.

Essdras M. Suarez

One of the things I always wanted to do was to photograph the Amish of Pennsylvania. I grew up reading National Geographic, and I remember being mesmerized as a child while looking through the pages of the magazine and seeing this culture that I found so far removed from anything I’d experienced or read about up until that point in my young life.

Finally, a couple of years back, I had the opportunity to visit Lancaster, PA, known to be a hub for the Amish community in the U.S. I knew that I wanted to create an extraordinary set of images and that I wanted them to depict this unique community in a respectful and visually appealing way.

On this day, I had already made enough photos of the quintessential horse-drawn buggies we are familiar with when it comes to the Amish. So, I drove around looking for something different until I came across this ‘honor system’ stand. They sold flowers and homemade greeting cards. You picked what you wanted, then read the suggested price, and placed your payment in a small wooden box.

I had made many still-life images of the stand, but I wasn’t satisfied with what I was getting. Then I noticed far beyond the cart, two Amish children in rollerblades making their way toward the cart. I waved my hand at them, and the boy acknowledged me by nodding his head. Beyond them, there was an adult working a field. I tried to make eye contact with him. Eventually, he looked my way, paused briefly, assessed me, and then went back to work.

The children went by me and paid me no attention. They proceeded to the cart and started to look through the items being sold. At some point, the little girl wanted a better look, so the boy helped her climb up onto the cart. There they sat for a while as I kept photographing them with my long lens.

Chris Mast

Last season, everything was a first for our franchise. I felt like I was documenting sports history more than just hockey games. When our first draft pick ever, Matty Beniers #10, was called up after finishing his college season at Michigan, I was really hoping to photograph his first professional goal.

A lot of these moments happen on the road but fortunately in this case, Matty scored his first goal at home and had this great celebration with teammate Jared McCann #16 (now #19).

Follow a play all the way through even though the action has stopped. By not checking the back of the camera to see if I got the actual goal, I was able to capture a big moment for our franchise.

Zay Yar Lin

Floating lanterns in the Nhu Y river in Vietnam are a breathtaking sight to behold. This tradition dates back centuries and is a significant part of Vietnamese culture. As the lanterns float along the river, they create a mesmerizing display of colors and patterns. People make wishes and say prayers as they release the lanterns, believing that the light will guide them to a better future.

The tradition of releasing lanterns on the Nhu Y river has a deeper significance as well. In Vietnamese culture, water is considered a symbol of life and rebirth, and releasing the lanterns on the river represents a wish for good luck and prosperity in the coming year.

In recent years, the floating lanterns on the Nhu Y river have become a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world. I had the opportunity to learn about the cultural significance behind the tradition during my recent trip to Vietnam. I waited until the sun went down to capture the moment of locals releasing lanterns lit up on the river.

National Photography Month is coming to an end! Throughout the month, we’ve shared the stories of various photo projects on social media – from landscape and portrait photographers to sports photographers and photojournalists. We started the month off with an ode to photographers, celebrating those who make it all happen. We’ve also been inspiring conversations and sparking some great discussions on Twitter, as we post daily photography themed questions and challenges for the photo community. Check them out and join the conversation!

Now we want to see your work. Tag us (@photoshelter) on Instagram and Twitter so we can follow you and admire your photos. Let’s inspire one another and continue sharing the stories that mean so much to us!

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This article was written by

Jeremy is the Content Marketing Manager at PhotoShelter, dedicated to connecting with our creative community and sharing inspiring stories.