I have a question for you.
Have you ever been affected in some way by a story?
Have you ever been sucked into a photograph so strongly and felt the emotions of what was being portrayed, and resonated with the ‘why’ or the purpose and reason behind it?
Stories in photography are so powerful, we are able to give viewers a way to connect to our feelings and lead them on a journey.
The emotions we want to evoke in others connect them with the story we want to tell.
Those emotions, those feelings may prompt viewers to act or behave differently because of the way their emotions have responded to the story that they told themselves about the photograph.
We have been using storytelling to teach and share since the beginning of human existence and it will never change because storytelling gives us the power to evoke strong emotions.
Stories are what compel people to take action for reasons bigger than they otherwise would have felt.
But what is the science behind storytelling? Why do our minds connect so well to stories?
Let me explain.
Stories Are All About Emotion
Stories connect and engage through emotion.
It’s all about evoking emotion, that’s where the best stories are told.
Great stories in photography can create empathy with your viewers.
To go a bit deeper and a little nerdy, the scientific reason behind this is from the lovely neurochemical oxytocin.
Stories with emotional content will consistently cause oxytocin explosions within our own minds and your viewers.
This means that our brains automatically react to things like empathy, sympathy, compassion, care, and connection.
We resonate emotionally to the story.
Connecting with your audience on an emotional level through photography:
Gives motivation and compels them to want to know more.
Results in better understanding of the key message because the viewer can imagine themselves in the same situation.
Enables them to better recall of your content.
Can motivate your viewer to make a change or take action.
Stories that can successfully create tension make people come to share the emotions of the characters in them.
This is the strongest and most reliable foundation for empathy, and it’s what gets people to connect with you.
Empathy is hearing, seeing, recognising and understanding the emotion behind what someone is saying or showing.
Empathy gets people to ‘opt-in’ .
Empathy is an important commodity in photography and content creation whether you’re pitching an idea to a client or sharing on social media.
Photography is one of the most effective ways to share stories.
A photo can evoke both positive and negative emotions within your viewers and really lets them see and connect themselves through the eyes of you, who you are and the scenes you’re creating with your photos.
Stories Frame Your Worldview
The next way on how to tell stories with photography is to use stories to frame your worldview.
Stories create a frame of reference for your viewers about your worldview.
Using stories to share a concept or idea creates an emotional connection with your viewers.
You may even use a storyline as the base for a photo series or photobook and weave in the frames of your worldview you want to share.
The concepts or ideas can literally be shared within any of your stories, with your viewers as the main character of the story, needing to react to what you want to happen in your story in order to motivate them to make change or action.
In The End
That’s how you tell stories with photography.
Stories suck us all in whether we like it or not.
We can’t deny it.
We can’t stop it.
We can only hold on and enjoy all the stories we expose ourselves to every single day.
Stories connect you and your photography with your viewers and audience.
It’s not just an image your sharing, it’s a story, it’s a feeling, it’s an emotion.
So before you go out and take your next gallery of photos, take a moment and think about the story you want to share with your viewers.
Ask yourself, how to you want them to think and feel about themselves, the world, their city, friends, humanity, the environment.
Ask yourself, what do you want your viewers to do, what actions do you want them to take after indulging themselves in the story they have just told themselves about the photograph you’ve shared.
Once you ask yourself and answer all these questions you’ll find that you look through the viewfinder a little differently.
It’s not about depth of field, it’s about depth of feeling!
If you would like to read more articles to learn and grow your photography skills then click here.