I've been taking pictures since I was 12 years old. You'd think I could write about photography for days. Nope. Want to know why?
I told a friend the other day, “It’s like translating my heart beat into words - something vital yet illusive to fully comprehend.”
I literally see in f-stops and shutter speeds.
But here’s the thing. I’m only one person and there’s a limit to what I can create. By showing you how to harness the power of story through pictures, I can multiply impact and empower you to make a difference in the lives of those you serve.
So here we go…
First, put the camera (or phone) down
The key to successful visual storytelling is to nail down your core message, then strategically create content that enhances it.
I always start with ‘why.’
If you’re a business owner, why did you start? What impact do you want to have?
If you're a nonprofit, why did you choose your mission?
What belief system are you trying to change?
Take as long as you need to discover and define your why because it’s the foundation upon which everything rests.
Next, what do you want to be known for?
This isn’t your elevator pitch or mission statement. This is the feeling people get when they hear your name, how they describe you to friends.
For me, I hope it’s: “Mary Knox exudes warmth and strength. She’s a friend who knows her stuff and wants to share all of it so others can make a positive impact on the world.” And the ‘stuff’ is visual storytelling - arguably the most important communication currency right now.
Again, take your time. Turn off the computer and write on scraps of paper. Sit with your list for a few days and come back to it. The simpler you can make it the better, because what comes next is so much easier if you do.
Choose or create photos for all the things on your to-do list
Website, social media, email. It’s enough to make your head spin, right?
But you’ve got this because you’ve defined your why, you know the pillars of your brand, and now it’s time to create.
Step 1: Map out your content calendar for the month, selecting topics from each of your pillars.
Step 2: Start writing. Yep, you heard me - still not time for pictures. What message is at the core of your post?
Step 3 [Critical!]: Pause. What feeling do you want the viewer to experience when they interact with your message. Joyful? Inspired?
Step 4: Based on that feeling, take or select a photo that matches.
Think of the photo as a natural extension, a visual representation of the feeling you want your viewer to have when they read or watch your content.
Whether you’re choosing photos for personal stories or to spotlight and elevate deserving individuals and organizations, it’s all about feelings. We’re often stuck in our heads, focused on what to say. Turns out it’s all about how you say it.
Am I making any sense? I hope so!