Storytelling. It’s a theme that’s pervaded my summer so far.
Whether we’re blogging, taking photos, making videos, creating artwork, or just talking with our friends and families, we’re all telling our stories, all the time.
Over the last few weeks I’ve had some amazing opportunities to get better at telling my stories.
Better storytelling through writing
Earlier this month I attended AdventureCon*, a Texas parenting blogger conference hosted by SeaWorld Texas. The focus of the conference was to help attendees become better bloggers, but it was more than that. Our friends at SeaWorld brought in talented folks to help us become (even) better storytellers.
Jeff Herrington, an expert in corporate communications and writing for the Web, led a workshop with great exercises and tips for better writing. It was a nice break, taking time out of my usually hectic schedule to really work on writing well during Jeff’s session. One of the things he told us really captured the essence of personal blogging (and I’m paraphrasing here):
Personal bloggers have the freedom to talk, walk, and play in a world of emotion. This is what builds an emotional connection in your writing. It gives it authenticity and makes it genuine.
Our stories are emotional whether they’re funny, dramatic, sad, informative, or joyous. Using emotion in our writing connects people to our stories. It helps us continue to build a rapport with our readers.
Better storytelling through video
During AdventureCon I also attended a session on creating better video with SeaWorld’s videographer, Bob Currie, and his wife Salwa Khan, an award-winning multimedia writer, producer, and educator. The highlight of their talk? You guessed it: storytelling. It’s the key to making our videos stand out too.
Their session covered technical tips for shooting video including what to look for when selecting external mics and tripods, improving our interviews, lighting considerations, and software editing suggestions.
But they started the conversation by impressing upon us the importance of having a story in mind when creating videos.
Do your videos tell a story? They should! Otherwise how will viewers understand your viewpoint? Storytelling is what grabs their attention.
What’s your idea? Will your audience be interested in the story you want to tell? What shots will you need to tell your story (make sure to jot down a list before you begin shooting to be sure you have the footage you need to tell your story).
Better storytelling through photography
Last week during a local blogger luncheon hosted by Invisalign*, storytelling was the star of the show again. We did hear a (surprisingly entertaining) presentation about Invisalign, but attendees were also treated to a photography class with the incredibly creative Diane Cu and Todd Porter, the White on Rice Couple.
Diane and Todd are self-taught photographers whose clients include Whole Foods, Williams Sonoma, and The Oprah Winfrey Network.
They mused that while the technical side of photography is important, it’s the ability to use our hearts to communicate a moment that makes photos stand apart.
They asked us to consider what we, as photographers, can do to convey a subject’s story. Learning how to do this, and do it from an authentic place, is more important than any technical skills we learn.
Believe in your story.
Your life journey and what you witness is unique. Capture it. Don’t wait.
Todd and Diane inspired me to take a new look at my own photography. I tend to view photos more as illustrations for my writing but now I’ll approach them as entire stories unto themselves.
I’m not a perfect storyteller. But I want to get better. I want to improve my writing. I want to learn more about videography and photography and how to creatively convey my viewpoint. I want to fine tune the ways in which I communicate.
How do you tell your story? I’d love to see links to your blogs, Flickr, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo creations in the comments!
* Disclosure: I was invited to AdventureCon for Texas parenting bloggers at Aquatica and SeaWorld Texas Jun 8-10. I received complimentary admission to the conference which included free passes for me and my family, all-day dine passes and quick queue passes, and free conference sessions. I did cover my own hotel and other expenses.
I was also invited to attend the Invisalign lunch at the Witte Museum on June 14. I received complimentary childcare, breakfast, lunch, a photography class, and a swag bag.
I was not asked to photograph or share about my experiences at either event. All opinions are my own.