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Discover which effect is right for you. Whether its a sweet spot of focus, a dramatic slice of focus, or a swirly bokeh, we have artistic effects for any type of photographic vision.


Get inspired by our Lensbaby Ambassadors and image galleries in our Inspiration Center. Learn everything there is to know about Lensbaby and our lens effects, from the pros who use them!

© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Visual Storytelling

  • 4 min read

My fourth grade son recently had an oral fluency assignment. He began reading with this sentence: “Art in all its forms is a beautiful way to tell stories.” I was struck by the truth and simplicity of the inspiration to tell a story with every image I create. Art is an opportunity.

You express your perspective on the life unfolding before you. There are multiple creative methods to use in your personal art to engage and inspire the viewer and express your unique view.


One compelling way to tell vivid stories is to use colors to draw and direct the eye. Imagine a foggy city street flanked by neutral buildings with a subject in a yellow jacket walking down the middle yellow line. Or the cinematic story of the young girl in the red jacket in the film Schindler's List. Using color as a contrast to a neutral backdrop can be striking and emotive.

Yet another method by which to use color is to fill the frame with a single or shades of a color. This method can emphasize the lines and layers further engaging the viewer.




When you are looking through your lens, choosing where to place your subject within the frame has the power to impact the direction of the story. I recently captured this photo of a cactus. By placing the focus on the red leaves on the right I was able to portray the life emerging from the jagged, rough stem leading the eye with the leaves to the light on the left expressing a looking up. My visual telling of: “It’s beautiful here and it’s going to be beautiful.”

Opportunities to break composition rules also offer methods by which to tell compelling stories. Think of this image. What story would it tell if the hand were on the side of the frame? How could a vertical orientation shift the vibe of the image?


Through cropping you may engage the viewer. It’s not only what is, but what isn’t. It leaves the viewer to wonder: How does the remainder of the image appear and what movement and action can we anticipate?


The next time you pick up your camera, begin with your “gut feeling” of where to place your subject and then move your subject to a totally different place in the frame. How does this shift change the story you’re telling?


It probably goes without saying that light is an essential piece of storytelling in photography with infinite possibilities. One way is to use a sunburst to direct the eye and cause wonder. By closing the aperture and shooting into the sun, light rays appear emphasizing the sun as a source and subject.

Another way to use light in storytelling is through the Lensbaby OMNI system. These crystals, films and reflectors direct light, and add colorful light and/or bokeh. They spark curiosity and add a sense of energy. Here, through shooting through the OMNI shapes, the light rays became a part of my dress and radiated as I danced.

Lens flare is a magical way to enhance your storytelling. By shooting into the light, each lens has a unique way of creating a circle or “halo”of rainbow light which can be directed to your subject (and sometimes surprise you and the viewer!

Creating curiosity using light can cause a deeper investment and emotion in the story. From where did the light come? And where is it going? Why is it lighting that space in that way?


With light comes shadows. These are the investigations of the unknown. It causes the questions: What else is there? What’s in the dark places? What is beyond what I see?

Shadows also have the capacity to lead the eye. Through using the long shadows as the daylight begins and ends or creating a drastic angle with artificial light you can direct vision through the photograph and expand the story to what may occur beyond the frame.

Selective Focus!

One of the most powerful ways to tell your story through the lens is through what you choose to focus to guide the vision. Lensbaby offers brilliant lenses and optics to provide opportunities to utilize unique focus. The Composer Pro II has interchangeable optics, each with their own effect. By tilting the lens, the plane of focus can be moved throughout the frame. For example, the Edge lenses have a slice of focus while the Sweets have a circular “sweet spot” and the Soft Focus II gives a dreamy glow. Each provide a unique narrative and evoke emotion in varied ways.

When you pick up your camera and capture you are given the opportunity to create compelling and captivating stories. Consider: What do I want the viewer to experience, to feel? What story am I trying to share and what story do I want them to imagine? And embrace all the creative opportunities you have to tell your story through the lens


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Elizabeth Willson

Liz finds joy in light and life. Her inspiration comes from the beauty of the everyday moments, the blessings of God’s amazing creation. She lives in her hometown in south central Pennsylvania with her family where she practices occupational therapy in early intervention, runs, hikes, and bikes in the nearby forests and farmlands, and creates through photography. She explores and expands her vision through creative lenses and techniques to develop art with elements of depth, mystery, layers, curiosity, hope, and storytelling.




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