We all know that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but if you haven’t already put this old cliche to work for your business or organization, you’re seriously missing out. Photographs can convey emotions, moods, ideas and messages all within just a few images. Through sharing visual stories on the web through blogs, social media feeds, and apps you can reach thousands of people – millions, even – with compelling photographs. And I know just the person to call to help you do it 🙂
Before you hire a photographer, though, you need to do some planning to decide on the story you’d like to tell, who the characters are, what the action is about, and what the message will be. Here are some thinks to consider.
1. Audience – The most important thing to consider before you make your storytelling photographs is for whom you are making them. Is the audience donors, potential clients, investors, competitors, your social media network? The audience affects the story greatly. Pharmaceutical companies have very different stories and messages for doctors than for patients.
2. Setting – The location of your photo shoot and the items included in the shots give the viewers information about where the story is happening and what is the tone of the story.
For example, for a non-profit organization that provides meals to homeless people, some of the storytelling photographs might be taken in an urban area and perhaps taken at night to convey the right emotions.
3. Characters – When I make storytelling photos, I want the characters to be the people who we want at the end of the story. Typically, we have only a few frames in which to capture the viewer’s attention and compel them to take action. We often don’t have the luxury of giving character background and depth. We can show where they are at the end of the story and leave the rest up to the viewer’s imagination.
Using the example above, I’d suggest that we incorporate into our story a photo of someone smiling and happy, who looks well fed, grateful, and refreshed.
4. The Takeaway – We don’t have to include every scene in the story that we tell with our photographs. What matters most is the takeaway message – the feeling, idea, emotion, or action with which you want the viewer to walk away.
Again, using the example of a non-profit organization that provides meals to homeless people, a few takeaways might include messages that the organization is generous, inclusive, effective, caring, kind, compassionate, dedicated, understanding, and non-judgmental.
Storytelling photography is more than a photo shoot. It’s a process of reviewing your mission, looking at the images in your digital library, thinking about how your brand is perceived, coming up with ideas for how to tell your story and then executing it over time. It’s more than just one photo shoot or one event.
If you’d like some help thinking about if the investment in storytelling photography makes sense for your business or organization, please let me know! Feel free to browse through my website to see some examples of photos that tell compelling stories.