Jeffery Allred is a photojournalist who has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He’s covered the Olympic Games twice, Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the Haiti earthquake, NBA finals, NFL games, and various collegiate sports. We sat down with him to learn about visual storytelling.
Don’t clutter an image, and keep everything intentional
Jeffery focuses on simplicity, which isn’t crazy easy because he often has to tell an entire story in one shot. Many times we want to keep the viewers engaged with a lot of elements, but that detracts from the photo.
Allred said, “I want the viewer to look at the subject first, and then explore the scene. Keeping things simple is probably one of the keys to good photography.” And we’d add that it’s a key to good visual storytelling too. Once you keep it simple, you can then add dimension with other elements. But only if it enhances the story.
There’s no room for your ego
Regardless of whichever field you are in, it is important to make sure everyone feels comfortable. A big part of that is leaving behind your ego. Jeffery says, “As photographers, what we try to do is keep it very unbiased. We want to tell it as it is.” Once a camera is whipped out, many people start getting tense and uncomfortable. Allred tries to help out by speaking to them, which helps to capture candid moments. Jeffery lives by the golden rule, if you don’t know about the golden rule, then we’ve got bigger problems!
Give a voice to the underdog
Allred is interested in the stories that don’t usually get shared. All the famous athletes get recognition or stories about them, but he wants to give a voice to those that don’t have one. One of his favorite stories he’s documented was about a 4-year-old girl who was diagnosed with cancer. Jeffery said, “As I’m photographing this family, this little 4-year-old girl, I wanted to show a great deal of respect. And so I think dealing with it respectfully, was probably the best thing I could do.” The family hoped to bring awareness to cancer and with the help of Jefferey, it was possible.
To wrap this up, here are the takeaways:
- Don’t clutter an image, just for the sake of it. Everything needs to be intentional
- Don’t have an ego… you’re not Beyonce
- Give a voice to people who don’t have one