Telling a story
There are many ways to tell a story. Here are some of them, with one detailed, commented example.
Page "story" last modified: 6Jul99

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a photo journal, as opposed to a simple collection of random photographs, is that it can tell a story, sharing an event in your life.

There are many ways to tell a story. For example:

   Sometimes a few pictures can do it all by themselves ("Jane now has pierced ears").
   Sometimes you can do it just with words.
   Sometimes you need a few paragraphs to explain the situation and the story ends with a photograph as the "punch line" ("John got so carried away watching the exotic birds near the pool that he fell in! Here he is drying off").
   Sometimes you provide the photos just to prove you really did experience the situation ("Since it was his summer home there were fewer tourists, so we got real close to the Pope. Here he is speaking to the crowd").
   Sometimes the photos are not understandable without the words (look at the first picture of Tim Berners-Lee and me on the home page of this web site).
   Sometimes the words are not understandable without the photos ("Cousin Joey's new haircut").
   Sometimes the words are the glue that holds the photos together.
   Sometimes they reinforce each other.

Stories that convey emotion can be very powerful and help create or maintain a bond between the author and reader. (The techniques of Digital Storytelling can help you get some ideas. I have a page on this site about Digital Storytelling.)

A sample story
Here's an example of a story, with commentary, based on what happened on the airplane to me today as I write this. It is not the type of story most people would post to their friends and relatives by itself, though it might make a good part of a trip story, or be fine for sharing with people interested in mechanics or the problems of flying. Like many trip reports documented with a digital camera, it is being written during a quiet time in the middle of the trip (in this case, on the plane).

The comments should help you learn some of the techniques I have used in my journals. They are also a story in their own right.

The pictures were taken with a normal, consumer-grade digital camera at the lowest resolution setting (640x480 pixels, maximum compression). I like shooting this way, since I get over 100 pictures on one memory card, so I can shoot lots of pictures. As I go along a story starts forming in my head, and I start thinking of more shots I should take to fill in the story.

The Delayed Flight A title to set the stage.
Here I used part of a picture to be the "cover". It's from the back of a T-shirt on one of the maintenance people. I took this picture (cropped to about 25% of the photo) specifically for this purpose.
After getting up at 6:20 AM on a Sunday morning to make the flight to LA to visit the relatives, I got to the airport on time for the 8:15 departure. This was an early flight, but it would maximize the time I had to be with the family before going on to San Francisco for my meetings.

By 8:30 we still hadn't pushed back from the gate. "Just finishing some paperwork with the mechanics and we'll be on our way" reported the pilot. Finally, we start to the runway. Then on comes the pilot again. "Seems they didn't fix it. The light still says one of the doors on the side of the plane near the wing isn't closing. Not a good thing. We're going back to the gate."
Setting the stage.
On came the people to fix it. They opened the panel in the seat across from mine. Just my luck to have something to photograph!

Introducing the photo.

The photo is slightly cropped and sized to show enough. The "exit" sign and "Emergency Pull" sign should be familiar to air travelers and help them identify the location.
They also opened a panel at the foot of the seat behind it:

Some text glues the previous picture to this one. The picture is scaled pretty small, since with the introduction it serves its function of locating the panel without needing much detail.
Here's a close up:

This is another shot. It's a bit blurred, but all that I have of the wires. As an engineer, I like showing the wires. As people say, it's showing the story through your eyes that makes it personal. The "Fodor's" book in the seat pocket adds to the reality.
The repair person got a call on his radio to call someone and then left the plane. The captain announced that it would be at least a half hour before we'd know when we'd be leaving. Passengers going to Hong Kong were told to get off to be put on another plane. So much for being early! More narrative. The "so much for being early" is where my feelings fit in again.
Some passengers got off the plane to walk around. I got off to buy the Boston Globe and New York Times I forgot to get when I first got on (at least something good came out of this -- I won't miss reading my comics!). Others, like this guy right next to the problem, just sat and passed the time:

More personal stuff.

I tried different cropping and sizing of this picture. (My authoring tool, Trellix Web, lets you do that by just dragging some handles with the mouse.) Cropped too tight didn't show the image of the seat to set the context. Is a waste for such a non-special picture to be too big.
I, of course, continued to use this as a chance to take some pictures for my new web site, and have an excuse to look inside the panel. Notice how it says "Safe":

My engineer heritage shows again as I choose this picture for emphasis. (Or is it the irony of the word "Safe" juxtaposed with my memory of the DC-10 that crashed when the loose door blew off or old spy movies of people sucked out of planes...? After all, this is only 6 feet from my seat. If you're reading this on my web site and not CNN's then they fixed it correctly.) This is my one photo taken with a flash.
Finally, they decide it's OK to go. The repair people return to close up the panels. Here's one of them lying on the floor screwing the panels on:

A sequence of pictures now starts. This one is small and of the whole picture. The color of the seats and his shirt gives enough detail.
One of the repair people read the step-by-step manual, while the others followed the instructions to close up the other panel:

These pictures are a natural sequence. They need no words between them. The first two are actually from different photos -- one showed the pages better, the other showed the other two people. I think the silhouette of the passenger watching adds to the scene.

Note that a restriction I felt for this (knowing that it would end up on a public web site) was to not show recognizable faces of people I couldn't ask permission for inclusion. This gentleman gave me permission. (Of course, he asked for the URL and I hope he likes what he sees! Now, will he share it with his friends and relatives?)
Finally, 2 hours late, we are on our way! Here's Boston out our window:

A picture to end it and give it closure. This is one of the three photos in this sequence that I changed "improved" in a photo editor, other than sizing and cropping. The difficult lighting of the plane and my desire not to bother the repair people meant I mainly used natural light.