As a photojournalist, telling stories is what my job is. There are always 2 sides to a medal and, as a staff photographer I get to show our side of it. The medias can take care of the other side.
Photo of the medals awarded to Lt.-Col. David Currie during the Second World War including the Victoria Cross. Photo by Serge Gouin
With a minimum of information, a time, place and a contact name, I need to be able to show up at any location with the appropriate gear, and document any event in a way that will go along the lines of what my client is hoping.
There is rarely only one client since, many department can benefit from these images. If I do it right, I can supply images for the event manager (most likely to promote the event the next year), the social media team, the recruiting team, our image bank and even the participants themselves.
Understanding your audience, the impact you are hoping to get is crucial. Learning to please most of it is something I need to deal with on a daily basis. Experience is the key and feedback is the most precious thing you can ever get.
Telling a story is not hard for me. That being said, the challenge is always there. What if the light is not as nice as you expected? What if only 10 people showed up to this rally? What do you do if it rains? …
You just need to find the right angle. Our angle. Our side of the medal.
If you wish to read about the medal’s story, click here
Following a VIP in Ma’Sum Ghar, Afghanistan, in 2010. Photo by a friend.
I bet the picture with me and a camera de-fused that violent image you initially had in your head. That is the power of images.
It is my job as a photojournalist to tell stories. My story is simple. My assignments as a photographer take me anywhere and everywhere, therefore allowing to share what I experience along the way. I also have other passions like trail running, martial arts and traveling. On my blog, I want to portray myself as an accessible person who likes to share his adventures and challenges, that’s why I write in first person. I try my best to remain positive and prefer experience to opinions.
Covering the RCMP Sunset ceremonies in Ottawa, 2015. Photo by Rick Millette.
Luckily photography is a medium that is easy to share. They tell a story or show something in a way that is a lot easier than having to explain it; hence the cliché quote: “A picture is worth a thousand words”.
My intent is not to teach nor speak about the science behind photography, or at least not really in depth. There are plenty of people that do that very well in YouTube already. I try to keep it simple, and just give a bit more details about the photographs. I tell my story, very much like a journal, or a conversation I would have with my friends. It also serves the purpose of building credibility to the people who might be interested in hiring me down the road, allowing them to get to know me better before they make that first contact.
Would you allow me to shoot you now?
Documenting the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, France. Photo by my boss.
Have you ever wondered why your story isn’t getting much attention? Why it is not gaining popularity, then perhaps you are doing something not right!
In this competitive world of digital age, it is easy for your story to get lost in clutter. Storytelling is an art and if done corrective, it can be very effective in gaining interest and popularity.
This week’s lesson was a bit of an eye opener. The main point from this week’s reading was philosophy of inverted triangle i.e. putting important information first so that you can grab reader’s attention as quickly as possible vs. potentially losing them. It is best to layout your story before writing in the most clear and concise way by ensuring that the story has clear beginning, middle and end. It is always a great idea to consider what kind of experience you want your audience to have.
While writing your content, the part that we all are aware and seldom forget or overlook is grammar, spelling and punctuation. When we get into mode of writing, we forget these elements which from a reader’s perspective looks unprofessional. It is always a good idea to get your story proofread by someone else as I believe fresh pair of eyes are always better to catch errors.
Use of active vs. passive voice is also an integral part of telling your story. Using a passive voice is one of the most common mistakes in writing. The story only gets lots of attention and interest when you can ask questions to your readers and when they can relate to the story.
To summarize, take away from this week’s reading is to begin writing with the end in the mind with deciding what kind of experience you want your audience to have and how to engage with them.
Storytelling is a universal language. Humans use stories to connect, regardless of the medium. The “language” we use is critical to our understanding of the world around us. We all have the power to mold and shape our ideas to drive action and deepen understanding.
As I develop my own storytelling voice, the following five approaches from this week’s lesson resonated with me.
Define your purpose. Answer questions such as: Why am I telling this story?, Who am I writing for?, What response do I want? What action do I want them to take? Why should they care?, What value can I offer? or How can I inspire or motivate them to take action? Thoughtful answers to these questions can help you tap into your audience’s emotions and make is easier to write.
Use the appropriate structure. There’s a lot of competition online. You only have only a few short seconds to get your audience’s attention. Put your main ideas front and centre, followed by more details. Your audience will decide whether they want to engage deeper into your content.
Elicit action. Use active language to engage your audience. Sentences written in active voice are easier to understand, clearer and more concise.
Check your work. Have you ever been immersed in a good book or article then visually tripped over a misspelled word or grammatical error? Your experience can quickly become soured and colour the author in a bad light. Take the time to double check your work for spelling, punctuation, grammar and style errors to avoid damaging your credibility. This GrammarGirl podcast offers some great tips for proofreading.
Practice. Learn and grow from your writing experience. Review your work over time to see what’s working and what’s not. Ask more questions. Is your audience finding value in your content? How can you approach things differently? Keep creating content.
I am comforted by the learnings in this week’s lesson. In my experience working as a graphic designer, I tell stories on behalf of my clients. I use many of the approaches we’ve discussed, only using different elements.
Writing online is relatively new to me. I am a private person and need to learn the best way to share my stories with others. This is my challenge.
“You know you have a world of knowledge to pass on – but you have no idea how to wrap it into an exciting package your readers will love.” says Alex Limberg of SmartBlogger. His post also beautifully illustrates the power of storytelling.
Do you have any stories about your first experience publishing content online? I’d love to hear from you.
After analyzing my skillset from beginning to end in this course, it became glaringly obvious that there were some gaps in my abilities to effectively convey a story to an audience. Using my newfound knowledge, I am able to quickly identify my target audience and implement an appropriate communication style that will reach them in the right way. To elaborate, using demographics and psychographics, I can make assumptions about those I am communicating to and will tweak my strategy of conveying message based on my findings.
Why is storytelling crucial to creating great Digital content?
Whether it be in person, online and numerous other mechanisms of storytelling, you are always trying to sell people on an idea and have to implement the right strategy in order to get them interested. When approaching a story in person, there are many factors that differ compared to digital content. You can see peoples reaction, make judgement based on these findings, and therefore create your story based on what works. With digital content, you are making an assumption about those who you are telling a story to and have much less to work with. Often with digital content you must be overly cautious of the things you say in order to not offend any group you are trying to reach. For example, when creating great digital content that on the political spectrum, it is much to do prior research and analysis to determine if your target audience leans more left or right. Through this research, you can then tailor a story that will appeal to the group you are reaching and do not risk offending as many people. The creation of great content takes lots of trial and error but is certainly possible with the right amount of effort.
How will your content be guided by story?
Content is guided by story no matter what approach you take. Think about companies who are selling a product and provide a backstory or use a tag such as “Established in 1942.” These are all part of telling the story in order to intrigue consumers into buying something you are selling. Whether it is a social media outlet, a business, a Facebook group, or any sort of digital platform, you ability to succeed and stand out from others depends on your ability to tell a story effectively. Look at Twitter as an example. Everyone has the same amount of characters per tweet to convey a message and get people interested in what they are selling. However, we can see that some people are able to thrive on this platform while others have issues with the restrictive threshold of words. I always despise the posts with 10+ “tweets”, assuming that I will ever take the time to read through all of them to understand a message they’re putting forward. I believe the restrictive nature of Twitter is one of the best aspects of the platform given it forces people to tell their story in a a very brief manner. Those who thrive are always the ones who grab their target audience’s attention quickly and get to their point immediately.
What kind of stories do you want to tell?
After rambling on about people who do not tell stories quickly enough, I realized that I am already over the word count, so I will keep this brief. The types of stories I will tell depend entirely on the audience at hand and the message I am trying to convey. One of the most crucial parts of thriving online is adaptability and I believe that this is a skill we are always working on. Hopefully with more practice I am able to pinpoint my skillsets with online storytelling and will learn to cut down on unnecessary words. For now, I am simply trying to learn more about myself and tell my stories thus far on experiences I’ve had over my short lifetime. This course has been fantastic for self-introspection and I believe I learned a lot about who I am as a storyteller throughout it.
The key to excellent storytelling is clear and concise language. Authors construct straightforward sentences with active voice and use the inverted pyramid scheme to grab the reader’s attention. They also consider the interaction they want to have with their audience and how they will engage their readers.
As stated in this week’s readings the attention span of the average reader is waning. This leads to more inspectional reading with skimming, and superficial reading becoming more common. Brian Clark describes the four methods for reading and understanding text as elementary, inspectional, analytuval, and syntopical.
Grammar and spelling play a major role in making sure a blog, or social media post is considered professional and worth reading. Common grammar mistakes should be avoided and rereading and editing everything is key. It is also important to consider what action you want your audience to take and make that action as easy as possible. Creating sharable links is very important. One of the websites I like to use to create links is bitly which creates smaller and more manageable links for websites like Twitter.
The other major take away from this week’s lesson is not to “bury the lead”. In other words make sure that the opening paragraph of a blog or article has the most important information with details and context in the following paragraphs.
Storytelling is one of the key pieces of the pie to creating successful digital communication. Your storytelling must engage and draw your desired audience to want more. It is a major building block for starting a relationship with the targeted audience and also to gain more followers to spread your story throughout the social media world.
There are many factors to consider when storytelling. Demographics play a very important role whether it be gender, age, income or even personal interest. One key element is to match your type of transaction to your potential client. There are three basic classes, starting with B2C which is your business directly to the regular everyday consumer on the street. The other classes are B2B meaning business to another business along with B2G business to government. You must research continuously for your target audience in order to keep updated with changes.
When composing a story you must make your audience want to read more and to provide enthusiasm in order for them to ask questions, making them feel a part of your writing. Listening is another major component and is a necessity in order to have a story line that flows naturally along with the style and message you want to relay. Stories can be used for many purposes whether it be marketing your business or product to a personal story about what you did on your last vacation.
Consistency can make or break a terrific story but always remember, no two people relate exactly to the same story. Some view the glass as half empty while others see it as being half full!
I work in the relocation business which means we can be responsible for industrial, retail business, municipal and provincial organizations along with the everyday person looking to move from one location to another. We are a trusted company that goes that extra mile to make our clients experience worry free. Meanwhile there are some moving companies out there that are looking for that quick dollar and they have no shame on how they acquire it!
One morning late last year I received a phone call at work from Wendy wanting to ask a few more questions about her move that she just booked with our company. I replied to her that this was the first time we had spoken. She asked if my name was Olivia? I replied saying no my name is Cheryl. She then asked for Olivia which I informed her there was no one by that name working here. She then told me that our affiliate company by the name of Red Maple Moving & Storage based out of Mississauga gave her a rate to move her this morning and took her credit card number for deposit. I immediately informed her we do not have any affiliates and to call her credit card company and hopefully any funds would still be in the pending stage.
As soon as I got off the phone with Wendy, I contacted the manager of our main website provider at Site Dudes and let her in on what has happened. Some how our main contact email was hacked though their site. We immediately changed our passwords and Site Dudes set up a sting hoping to catch the culprit. Red Maple Moving & Storage was contacted and asked for their address which was found to be a UPS store located in Mississauga.
I have a friend that is a manager at Toronto Crime Stoppers and I contacted her giving the information that was collected including Wendy’s contact info. She filed a report and found out that Toronto Police are currently investigating the company Red Maple Moving.
Below is a link to Red Maple Moving out of Mississauga, Ontario.
Fortunately Wendy did reach her credit card company in time to remove the pending charges to her credit card. We did book her move, she also came into the office to personally thank me for the quick thinking and action taken. Red Maple Movers are on the police radar and have been charged. My employer was very proud of me on how quickly a disaster was turned into a positive outcome.
When I hear the word “storytelling,” I immediately think of Grampa Simpson spouting off nonsensical ramblings about wearing an onion on his belt during the war. While this is a form of storytelling, it doesn’t translate well to a blog post. In social media, storytelling is all about communicating a message in a concise, meaningful, easy to understand, and familiar way. When using storytelling on social media, there are few important things to keep in mind…
Your writing needs to be clear and concise – You’re not Margaret Atwood. It is important to get to the point in your first few sentences, and be clear about what you want to get across. Make sure your writing is interesting, and always lead with your most important information. Readers will skim titles, and the first few sentences, but will only read on if it is appealing to them
Make sure you check over your writing before posting it; read it out loud if you need to. Spelling and grammatical errors will turn off readers, and lessen your credibility in the subject area. Remember there is always a keyboard warrior out there ready to pounce on your mistakes.
Keep your audience engaged by writing in an active voice, as opposed to a passive voice. Write as it comes naturally to you, and keep your tone positive; readers will respond accordingly.
After you have hooked your audience in with a catchy title, killer opening, and well written copy, you can’t just leave them hanging. Always include a call to action; this is the reason why you have written your piece, and what you want them to do next.
Concise writing has always been difficult for me. It has become more natural for me the more I do it, but I often feel like I am not putting enough in. Do the rest of you share this struggle? How do you keep your word count down, and still get your point across? Share your comments below.
Storytelling is the most basic form of communication. Although we are more advanced from a technological perspective, we are still using storytelling as a primary method of communication.
Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet, primitive people did.
Okay, so maybe primitive people didn’t invent the actual Internet, but they did use cave walls much like how we use the web, as a way to capture information and share it with a larger audience.
In more modern times, the printing press introduced mass distribution and the wide reach that we continue to experience today through tv, movies, books, and of course, the Internet.
Content is rooted in story and the ability to tell a great one.
Bottom line: you need to be a great storyteller. Given the volume of content available, many readers are skimmers. You need to captivate your audience from the get-go with your title. Have you ever read an article that you normally wouldn’t have only because you were grabbed by the title?
Know your audience.
Content should be engaging, inspiring, motivational, and entertaining. To accomplish this you need to know your audience. Who are you writing for? What do you want them to take away from your piece? How do you want them to engage with you?
When you know your audience, your content is more likely to be shared. Always be true to yourself and use your voice—there is only one you, and you are interesting. (See what I did there, I’m being motivational!) You will attract like-minded readers and increase your following organically.
Short and digestible.
Looking back at some of my other blog posts (I’m a book reviewer for various publishers), I quickly realized that the best ones are in fact the shorter ones. These posts chunk the content into small paragraphs which plays right into the skimmer personality, which I think is what most of us are becoming. How many times have you gotten a huge email, only to stop reading early on because it was too wordy and visually overwhelming?
You want engagement and buy-in. By arranging your piece using short paragraphs, someone can quickly and easily read your post and look forward to reading more from your blog.