Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Are your stories or visuals just flat?

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 55-200mm, ISO 3200, ƒ/3.9, 1/70

Do your stories/photos just seem flat to you? I know many times after I have worked so hard on a story/photo I just feel like the results just were not capturing something, but what was I missing?

Now when I cover sports, which is really a short story, where the winning team must overcome obstacles, to win I can see the problem with a flat coverage. The teams just never really put forth the effort that visually showed greatness.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

I have been having wonderful emails sent to me over the past couple weeks about my daughter’s performance as the witch in the musical Into the Woods. Now while I would be proud of her no matter what as her dad, I was really proud of her as an artist.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 9000, ƒ/5.6, 1/400

Some of those emails started to capture the nuance that she was able to deliver in her performance. One person wrote that my daughter was “making the part your own, not a stereotype or a copy of another actor’s work, but an artful blending of jagged, mean, ugly, playful, quirky, needy, and finally, channeling the almighty in condemning flawed mankind to tend the garden alone.  Your character arc was spot on.”

So exactly what is a character arc? It is the transformation or inner journey of a character over the course of the story. While many things may happen to a character in a theater performance, unless those are portrayed in someway on the stage the audience isn’t allowed to experience those changes.

This is what I would like to say is often the missing secret ingredient to a compelling story.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 1250, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000

When I work often with a NGO in telling their story I must interview a person about the before the climax of the story. I am most often telling a success story which means I have missed the opportunity to show this main character struggling.

What I can do and often do is have them tell me about what it was like before. I want them to articulate the struggle they experienced. After hearing this part of the interview I then can go and get b-roll of others also going through this. I should be able to find this because most NGOs are raising funds to help others like their success story.

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 2200, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

The main plot for most of these stories I am doing is that the main character is unable to overcome opposing forces, because they lack the skills, knowledge, resources or friends.

My audience is who I am appealing to be the ones who help with supplying the skills, knowledge, resources and being the friend to help other like this person to overcome their obstacles. It is imperative that I have done a good job of articulating why they cannot do it alone.

The last part of the story is showing the changes in the main subject. Today for example because of the changes they have gone through now their children can go to college and have a better life than the main subject.

The story is often flat because I have done a poor job of capturing the struggle and problems of the main character.

Don’t be the storyteller who only searches for those who take little effort on you to communicate their struggle. This is where you search for only stories that are often cliché. You find a person with major physical deformities to help you capture the struggle so you don’t have to work at it as hard.

Remember, everyone has a story, if we take the time to get to know them!

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