Saturday, March 14, 2015

Transitioning From Photographer to Storyteller

photo courtesy of Knolan Benfield, Jr.

One of my earliest memories with our family is my grandfather, whom I called Daddy “B”, with his slide projector sharing his latest trip with all the family. The photo above is with my Daddy “B”, Nana “B”, my mother, sister and me wearing an indian hat watching a slideshow.

Once I started shooting myself I also got a slide projector and would have similar shows in our home.

In my second job with the International Mission Board I helped missionaries know how to construct a slideshow so that it told a story. I also was producing slideshows to music. This was in the late 1980’s.

Here is one I produced showing Don Rutledge’s coverage of Russia:

I was taught how to shoot “Photo Stories.” Here is what I was taught to capture:
  1. Opener: Sets the scene for the story
  2. Decisive moment: The one moment that can by itself tell the story
  3. Details: Besides being like visual candy to the story, help often with transitions--especially in multimedia packages
  4. Sequences: give a little variety to a situation
  5. High overall shot: Gives a good perspective to how the elements all fit together
  6. Closer: Besides the classic shot of the cowboy riding off into the sunset there are other visual ways to help bring the story to a close
  7. Portraits: These photos are great for introducing the characters of the story

I was always working with a writer who captured the story as text and together our packages were produced in magazines or newspapers.

Looking back I would say I was getting elements of the story and really not responsible for the complete package.

In 2006 I bought a digital audio recorder, which changed my career trajectory. I produced my first package that I was responsible for all the parts to help tell a story. My friend Susan Shaw had started a business combining her art with love of farm animals.

Here is that first effort of mine to capture a story in 2006:

I was learning the craft of the storyline. Up until this point I was focusing on capturing the HOW? and WHAT? of the story and now I am laser focused on the WHY?.

One of my favorite stories where I could see some of the changes taking place was my first coverage of the Daddy Daughter Date Night at Chick-fil-A. Here is this story package I did in 2008:

Today I am producing on somewhat regular basis small two to three minute packages that are small stories.

Here is one of the latest stories I did recently for Honduras Outreach Inc.:

Here is what they have as their mission statement on their website:
HOI is a Christ-centered short-term mission organization working alongside people of developing countries who desire to implement sustainable development partnerships. We organize mission trips to Honduras and Nicaragua. 
HOI’s vision is to create life-changing relationships between the people of developing countries and North Americans, while promoting community directed and integrated spiritual, physical, educational and economic development of men, women and children in the developing world through the promotion of dignity, mutual cooperation and self-sufficiency.
My goal with the package was to help communicate the emotions and the heart of HOI.

This process has taken me more than thirty years to learn. Twenty of those years were learning how to produce compelling photo stories and the last ten have been executive producing storytelling packages.

I want to invite you to go with me to Romania to learn how to do this in just two weeks. We still have some slots open. Here is the link to that workshop

If that doesn’t work for your calendar give me a call and let’s plan a personal workshop or group one for you.

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