09.03.2017

Jumpstarting your visual storytelling strategy

written by:
Kristen Kellogg

09.03.2017

Jumpstarting your visual storytelling strategy

Whether you’re a budding photographer, filmmaker, Instagrammer or brand looking to grow your audience, there are many ways to strategize a plan of action that will lead you to create work that really connects with others. Here are five tips that have helped me to become the visual storyteller I am today.

FOUNDATION TO IN THE FIELD

First things first! What are you naturally drawn to? Is it a monochromatic scene or really vibrant colors? Maybe you’re drawn to many different things? Figure out what you are curious about, and then, quite literally, get out into the field and try all of them.

Image shot on Madeira Island in Portugal

Go into fields and forests and into real life settings to practice. You can read books, watch videos, and take classes all day long (which I also recommend), but practicing with your actual camera is ultimately the best way to perfect your skill set. Try new camera settings, ask a friend to be your subject for the day, and try things your afraid of failing at. This is how you will find out what you really enjoy shooting and what you want your subject to be.

Image shot on Madeira Island in Portugal

You may learn you really love indoor studio photography, staging a set, creating obscure scenes with brightly colored backdrops., or perhaps you’ll take to the streets and learn that you really enjoy shooting on the fly. And maybe you’ll actually like both. The great thing about photography is that you can do literally anything you want. It is art. And you are the artist leading the viewer along the in your story.

CREATE IMAGERY THAT RESONATES

Whatever you are producing, the ultimate goal is to somehow have your visual story connect with others, right?

Image shot in Valais, Switzerland

I always use the rule of thumb when creating content that whatever I am producing should do one or more of the following things: inspire, educate and/or provoke thought. If I’m in a new destination, I am looking to create an image that will make people want to drop whatever they’re doing and hop on a plane to explore. The image I shared below of the father and son in Dominica tells a story looking through their eyes. When sharing on social platforms, I can supplement this with an educational factor telling people their story in a  few words. In this case, I hope for people to connect with the image in a way that brings them to connect and talk to more locals when they travel to foreign places.

Image shot on Anguilla

LOOK FOR A NEW PERSPECTIVE

While you’re learning, it’s great to emulate and practice styles of others, but your ultimate goal should be developing a style of your own. A style that when someone looks at a series of images, a single image, or even a film, they know that is you.

Image Shot in Maui, Hawaii

Image Shot on Anguilla Island

MIX AND MATCH YOUR MEDIA

Whether for work or play, many social platforms, like Instagram for example, allow you to share both photography and film. And with film being weighted more heavily on popular channels like Facebook, if you’re looking to grow an audience, you should know how to do a little of both. Whether that means creating a simple boomerang on your iPhone, or a stop-motion, gif file with the Manfrotto Twistgrip and PIXI Mini Tripod, or even a full film with your DSLR, you should think about weaving both film and photography into your visual storytelling strategy.

Image shot on Nantucket Island

Image shot on Anguilla

A great example of this is using Instagram stories to share. I’ll often share a single image of a hotel on my Instagram feed and ask people to check out my Instagram stories for a tour of the property. It is here where I mix film clips throughout the hotel and stills giving my audience a behind the scenes, almost live, look at a place. They’ll feel like they’e there with you.

FINDING A MENTOR

It’s always great to have someone older and wiser than yourself to turn to when you have a question. In terms of filmmaking, I wouldn’t have gone so far if it weren’t for my mentor being there to answer questions I had along the way. When you do eventually feel like you’re at a point where you’ve mastered your craft, make sure you find a way to pay it forward and pass on the knowledge to someone else and give back.

Image Shot in the Isaan Region of Thailand

If you found this article useful, find for me @BorderFreeTravels on Instagram for more visual tips and travel inspiration.

Kristen Kellogg

USA

Exploring rugged to refined, filmmaker and digital storyteller Kristen Kellogg travels the world creating content for brands and destinations through her creative agency, Border Free Travels. Kristen recently produced work for Rosetta Stone and Thailand Tourism, and she has been featured in a variety of outlets such as Yahoo, Daily Mail, Refinery29, Huffington Post, AFAR, and MSN among others. She loves inspiring others through her lens always looking to discover the next off-the-beaten-path destination to share on her blog. Adventure with Kristen everyday on instagram here.

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