Visual Stories


A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Henry Green

Henry Green

I try to apply this in my photographic work when selecting what to include or exclude in the frame. If you were to take this into the context of visual storytelling, it could apply in so many areas, especially in selecting the final images for edit. Include what you need and exclude what you don't.

Riffing on the above quote, I found another quote that perfectly applies this concept to storytelling. It's from the late Henry Green, an English author best remembered for the novels Party Going and Loving.

The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.
— Henry Green


Ron Howard

Ron Howard

Photographers are notorious for being all about gear. I know I write a weekly post on the gear and equipment that I use, but out in the internets it can get out of hand. This weeks storytelling insight comes from an interview with Ron Howard in which he spoke briefly about technology and its role in telling stories.

"I love the fact that I can get so much closer to what's in my mind on the screen than I ever could before. And there was always this gap, and that gap is narrowing. [Robert Zemeckis] was quoted as saying 'We can no longer dazzle people, it's back to story. And it has to be character and it has to be story.' I love that."

We can no longer dazzle people, it has to be character and story.


Seth Godin

Seth Godin

You may or may not have heard of Seth Godin. If you've ever tried to learn more about marketing, than you more then likely have stumbled across his very popular blog or read one of his books (there's lots of them). He's an accomplished entrepreneur and always has great insight into people and business. Not surprisingly, he often talks about storytelling with your marketing. There's a lot of material to work with here, so over the next several weeks I'll be posting a weekly storytelling thought from Seth Godin. I hope you like them.

"A great story is true, not because it's factual, but because it's consistent and authentic."

I had several thoughts as I read these words the first time. As it relates to photographic storytelling, I couldn't help but think about post-production and digital manipulation. This is a long time argument in the imaging world, but I think this provides a new angle. Post process and color correct to tell a better story. The images in National Geographic are printed as shot with minor adjustments to levels and contrast while the award winning surf story from the Banff Mountain Festival shot by Chris Burkard has punchy colors and additional post-production work I'm sure. Neither approach is inherently right or wrong, it all comes down to the story your trying to tell and the medium your telling it in.

More next week.


Brain Sturm, PhD

Brain Sturm, PhD

Brian Sturm lectured on Storytelling Theory and Practice in a lecture series for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he is a professor. The entire lecture is worth a watch, but I just wanted to highlight one brief comment from this almost forty-five minute lecture. The comment is this: if you think of random dots, story is what connects those dots. Though his comment almost certainly relates to understanding what a story is, it can also be applied in storytelling technique.

To make this point, the included film (below) from Camp4Collective opens with a seemingly unrelated narration that in the end ties the underlying story together. It’s a brilliant piece of work and you should take fifteen minutes and watch it.

A few sample questions to ask when crafting your story: What dots are you trying to connect? What seemingly unrelated dots could you introduce to help pull the story together? What dots could you introduce to add interest and an outside perspective?

Happy storytelling!

Curiosity from Camp 4 Collective for The North Face