Telling the Story: Action

kites-on-beachOne summer weekend, my husband and I decided to get out of the California valley heat and visit San Francisco.  We found what we expected – one of San Francisco’s winter-in-summer days, complete with wind and fog.  We wandered down to the beach at Chrissy Field and found a kite surfing competition going on.


Clearly the subject is the kite surfing.  Or is it?  Maybe the subject is the contestants waiting their turn on the beach.  Or is it the surfers plying their skill against the backdrop of the Marin coastline, skimming across the cold, foggy bay?  Or do the two interpretations tell the story of the day?

In the image on the left, I have used the color and mass of the kites to emphasize the action – clearly groups of people waiting to launch, most likely to compete in a contest of some kind.  I kept the kites on the ground at an angle to the water and bottom of the frame, and I timed the shot so one kite surfer was coming in for a landing with his kite still in the air.

The lone kite surfer out in the water also caught my attention.  I followed him with my camera, keeping him and the kite stretched across the frame, as seen in the image on the right.  The outline of the Marin peninsula in the background muted by the fog enhanced the feeling of isolation.  I used the telephoto and shot as he skimmed across the frame.

Which one is better?  Neither.  They both tell a story.  The question to answer is this:  which one would you as the photographer like to tell?

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