Visual Storytelling in Photography

What is visual storytelling? Visual storytelling has never been more popular. Let me explain why visual storytelling is more important than ever nowadays. In this blog article I will go through some of the storytelling techniques you can use to improve your photography drastically. I’ll also show you some of my own photos as visual examples and ideas of how to incorporate visual storytelling into your photography.

Art, regardless of the field, is about telling a story. And in the media-saturated world that we currently live in, the people and brands whose stories are being heard the most are those who know how to tell it best (Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple — we’re looking at you).

That being said, in order to capture your audience’s attention and get them to — in social media terms — *stop scrolling,* it’s vital that you master the skill of visual storytelling. And, before you freak out, just trust me when I say that it’s a lot easier than you think! Check out these FOUR strategies for making simple yet game-changing improvements to your photos.

Visual Storytelling in photography

1. Introduce your hero element

Like a Marvel movie and its hero, a painting with its subject, or a table with its centerpiece — all good art has a main character. With photography, it’s no different!

That’s why my first piece of advice is to make sure it’s crystal clear to the viewer what the main object is.

For example, when you picture a Coke ad, you probably think of a bunch of friends hanging out on a back deck or a sandy beach with an ice-cold bottle of soda in their hands. Sure, there are lots of “characters” bopping around, but the way the ad is shot, it’s always clear who the real hero is: the American classic Coke that we all know.

In still life or food photography we can apply the same tactics. Let’ say you’re styling a flatlay scene with a cake for instance, then you need to make sure that the cake really is the hero of the scene (and don’t include other cakes that compete for the attention). The cake should be in the spotlight, and everything else should be there to back up the scene and provide the atmosphere. Compare the two images below to see what I mean.

Visual Storytelling in Photography

2. Give the viewer a context

Ask yourself this: What does every good story have? Background information, details, and action!

At the end of the day, the viewer needs to be able to understand what’s going on in the photo before they can decide whether or not they relate to the story that’s being told within it.

This means that it’s vital to provide them with context. If you’re photographing a scrumptious wedding cake, for example, you could tell the story of the cake being made by including small details like flour, a rolling pin, a knife covered in frosting as if it’s just been used…you get the picture! (Wait–I kinda like that pun!).

Here are two photos where I added a few of the ingredients to the photo. Can you see how this gives the viewer a context and it makes the photo more interesting to look at!

3. Include a human element

What do humans relate to most? Other humans, of course!

You can form a connection between your photo and the audience by including a human element in your photo. Something as simple as a hand on the rolling pin or an arm reaching for the first slice (to use the cake example again) works wonders at helping people visualize being present on the scene themselves.

Visual Storytelling include humane elements

4. Use your frames wisely

We don’t always get the chance to share multiple photos at once, but when we do, we diversify.

Include photos that show your product from multiple perspectives. In this way your audience doesn’t get bored and continue on their endless scroll session. We’re talking wide angles, close-ups, flat lays…all of it!

You could even choose to be a little ~cinematic~ and portray a process from start to finish.

From the same photo session you can take photos from different angles and different part of the process, like I hav done here:

Visual Storytelling Telling a Story

Whatever you do, choose wisely! In the world of social media, your audience’s attention is the most valuable commodity there is.

Well, there we are with FOUR simple and easy strategies to level up your visual storytelling game!

You’ll find more tips and tricks on how to create scroll-stopping content on my Photography and Styling Masterclass here.

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