Visual Storytelling: The Basics

Today I welcome Amanda Padgett of Everyday Elements Online. I’ve had to pleasure to meet her in person twice and I tell you, she knows her stuff when it comes to photography. But not just how to technically use a camera. She’s brilliant at showing others how to use images as a way to tell stories. This is the first of her three-part series on Visual Storytelling.

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” ~ Lewis Hine

Are Pictures Really That Important?

Definitely! Most bloggers already know this, but let me share a few purposes photographs serve and why they are crucial for most blogs.

  • Relevant, meaningful images will foster an emotional connection to your content and you.
  • Photos will increases reader engagement on your blog and other social networks, and aid your blog being found if images are appropriately titled and tagged for search engine optimization.
  • The types of pictures you share of your subjects, family, etc, helps build your blog or personal brand.

You know that adding pictures to your posts is important, but then the question is what kind of pictures to include?

“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” ~ Walt Disney

Visual Storytelling

Don’t make the mistake of assuming just any image will do. If your image has no meaning or message to it, then your viewers will not get anything from them either and you might as well have not bothered.

The next time you go to take pictures for use in a blog post, try approaching it in much the same way you do when writing blog posts, short stories, essays, etc.

  • Decide the story you want to tell with the pictures
  • Write the rough draft (get the pictures)
  • Edit and create the final draft

Go through the process with the mind of a writer, and your images will have a much greater impact and engagement with your readers than they ever have before.

“The soul never thinks without a mental image.” ~ Aristotle

Deciding What Story to Tell

Regardless of what niche your blog belongs to, your images can tell a story. Share a picture of your family eating that wonderful recipe you made and shared. Show the craft your child made while you worked on the craft for your blog. Think about what images you can capture that would help your blog readers relate to you.

The next time you go to capture one or more images for a blog post, think about the following things and your images will likely resonate more with viewers.

  • Purpose – make sure the photos you share have a message or story to tell.
  • Simplify – keep things simple; don’t clutter the message with a picture that is too busy or trying to accomplish too many things.
  • Create characters – let viewers get to know your subjects or you.

Many times the story we really want to convey does not require an image that is blatant and spells it out for our readers. For example, when my niece was critically injured in a car accident, the image of her in the PICU would be have been too harsh. Instead, I was able to share two images that told the story for me – one of her little hand with tubes all around it, and another of the many machines she was hooked up to.

To Be Continued…

In the next two posts I will talk about “writing the rough draft,” which is getting the pictures, and “editing and final draft,” which is editing the images to share on your blog.

I want to acknowledge Rachel Devine of Sesame Ellis, who co-wrote the presentation The Power of Visual Storytelling with me, which she and I gave at the Blographer Event put on by Adormama in New York City early August. Much of what I am sharing in this series comes from our presentation. Check out Rachel’s blog when you can, because she certainly will inspire you!

About Amanda: Amanda Padgett is a veteran homeschooler who began blogging in 2008 to keep family updated with her dad’s fight with brain cancer. After his death in 2009 she took up photography as a hobby for therapy and quickly became immersed in it. Now she shares her passion for photography and editing at her blog Everyday Elements.

NOTE: I had to close comments on this post since spammers really seem to love it. :) 

Comments

  1. says

    What a great article! I needed to be reminded that if I really want to engage my readers, using appropriate pictures will help establish that all-important emotion connection.Thank you

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  1. [...] to the final post in the Visual Storytelling series. To recap, in the first post I shared why images are important in blogging and how to approaching the image creation like a writer approaches writing a story can be [...]