Storytelling is relaying an experience through a narrative. It is an act of communicating about someone who is doing something told from someone’s perspective – the characters (someone), a plot (something) and a point of view (perspective) are the elements that make up the story. Complex narratives may also include a setting with a conflict and resolution that revolves around the characters, the plot and their points of view.
We tell stories everyday.
Whether oral or visual, storytelling is an essential aspect of all human communication. We tell friends over dinner about a situation that occurred at work, we update our social media status to tell the story of our identity and we capture photos of our travel experiences to punctuate our oral stories. Visual storytelling is specific to the mediums of art, still photography and videography but can also include activities like content curation and publishing.
Our Visual Storytelling Festival (coming up on 26 May 2018) is designed to educate and inspire photographers and publishers with examples of some incredible storytellers like Olympus Visionary Michaela Skovranova, Nikon Influencer and nightscape photographer Dale Sharpe, and experienced educators from the Queensland College of Art. In addition to the technical challenges of working underwater and with some of the worlds largest animals, or shooting the night sky, these photographers have developed techniques to capture the stories of these vast spaces. In Michaela’s images of whales the elements of storytelling turn a technically challenging capture into an underwater experience for the viewer – the whale is the someone, its curiosity about the photographer while in the dark depths of the ocean or its relationship to its baby is the somethingand the photographers size and location set the point of view. The angle of the shot, the colours, scale and movement create these elements of storytelling that draw the viewer into the experience of the photographer.
In the age of social media and viral content, the elements of storytelling help us understand how humans are driven to engage and interact with digital content. The term ‘meme’ is derived from the field of study called ‘memetics’ which analyses the techniques of communication used by humans to replicate concepts. In ancient cultures, information was transferred through paintings on caves, smoke patterns, horn sounds, markings on trees or land, or through verbal language at meetings.
So… is a cave painting a meme?
The study of memetics considers that the earliest form of a ‘meme’ could be the transfer of information such as gossip (the arrangement of a marriage) or education (foods which can or can’t be eaten) between designated communicators of tribal groups. The ‘meme’ is the tool (words, drawing, smoke), but its storytelling elements (character, plot, point of view) create the connection with the content and the desire of the recipient to pass it on. It’s the desire to pass it on that makes the visual content a ‘meme’. Poisonous food is information which is important to share as it is essential to survival and the passing on of gossip meets the human need for connection. As our knowledge of poisonous food has evolved, the internet has become the tool we use to reach a largely unmet human need – connection.
Before the development of shared verbal languages, almost all communication relied on visual signs and symbols to replicate a concept or idea. In 2018, the term meme is popularly applied to a graphic shared via social media with an image and text deeply coded with a someone, a something and the perspective of the storyteller. While a ‘meme’ is now quite specific, usually a photo with text in white Impact font with a black border or drop shadow, the study of memetics can help us understand how individuals connect with all forms of visual content.
The speakers selected for the 2018 Visual Storytelling Festival have taken their craft to the next level and we want our community to benefit from the wealth of knowledge gathered at a single event. Attendees have selected from portrait sessions where we will focus on the characters in a narrative, neighborhood walks where plot will be captured through local landmarks as characters, and inspiring talks where photographers share their methods to capture their point of view.
At CameraPro, you’re the main charactersin a story about a little online business that’s growing into a connected community because once upon a time, a someonewanted to create somethingbecause from their point of view, camera shopping should be better.
Not in Brisbane? Look out for our post event blogs summarizing our Visual Storytelling Festival sessions.
Want to learn more about storytelling and photography?