Storytelling is powerful, but sadly, most people don’t realize the impact of a story. I was in the corporate world for many years, and while making a presentation, we had to strip everything away to its bare fundamentals. As a result, I’d often present to a group of executives who had to work hard to stifle their yawns. It was only when I’d get to the financial projections, when the audience would wake up, stretch, and get into the action.
As I grew into a more senior position, I realized it was critical to build a story. This way, I started taking my audience through my strategic thought process. Once I changed my approach, it was easier to sell my proposal. In short, once I changed my approach to a storytelling approach, it became easier.
When I told the story, I found my body language change. Not only did I stand straighter, but I also spoke with more conviction.
Somewhere around this stage in my life, I looked at my photographs, and I asked myself if they told a story. To my consternation, I realized many stories did not tell a story, but some did.
In the old days, when I shot only with film, the photograph had to do all the hard work. I had a darkroom for only a short while in my life, so for most of my photographic career, I have depended on photo labs.
It’s only when I shot digital and began editing my own images that I could take viewers through the entire process. This is when I understood what Ansel Adams meant when he said we make an image. I believe many photographers go over the top in their editing. They aim for too much perfection. In doing so, they create a sterile image.
Many amateur photographers believe you need a fancy camera to take top-class images. While this is true, technically, you can create a story with your mobile phone, and a free in-phone editing app, like Snapseed. Then, you can use any templates you have, or some on Unfold, to create Instagram stories or saves to Snapchat.
Recently, I was in the market in Gurgaon, when I saw this man walking by with his partner. His fashion choice struck me, including his orange shoes. While it is his right to choose what he wants to wear, his simpering walk also struck me. It was a joy to watch.
I use an old phone, a One Plus 6T, which has a broken screen. It took some time for me to open the camera, by which time he had passed me. When you look at the first image, you may notice that your eye bouncing all over the image. There is too much happening and every element in the image has the same level of luminance.
My next step was to take it into Snapseed and edit the image. I gave it a pop. In fact, I gave it quite a pop. Next, I blurred the edges and gave it a strong vignette. While many photographers recommend delicate vignettes, I favor the burned edge look. It’s possible to get this if you use Nik Silver Efex Pro.
I cropped it into a square and then posted it to Instagram.
Finally, I used a template that I found on Unfold (available on the IOS and Android Stores) and posted it as a story, and as a Snapseed post.
Storytelling is powerful, but you must build the story. I recommend that you have a story in mind when you shoot. What do you want to create?