Don’t just tell your story – show it!

Business Photography, Featured blogs, Personal branding guides
Corporate marketing photography with image from a series showing management team in group discussion for charity Action on Addiction

We’re hard wired to connect with visual storytelling.

From the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs to the Bayeux Tapestry, images have been used to share ideas and tell stories for millennia.

And there’s a good reason – it works!

Our brain can process an image in just a few seconds and much quicker than ploughing through reams of text. With visual storytelling you can draw the viewer in, create an emotional connection and immerse them in what you have to say.

But you can’t use any old image. Your visuals need to tell your story and connect with your brand.

So here are eight storytelling tips to help every business owner create visual content that connects with their audience.

Use a story arc

Watch any drama or thriller and you’ll see ‘a story arc’ being used in various forms. It’s a simple structure that can be adapted to almost any story…

  1. To start, the scene is set and you get to know the characters
  2. Followed by the “how and why”where you find out what happened
  3. You’ll be kept guessing while the hero faces a series of challenges
  4. And finally the story builds to a climactic scene delivering clarity and resolution (or not if they’ve decided to create a cliff hanger ahead of series 2), in which case you’re back to step 3!

In Donald Miller’s book, Building A Storybrand, he develops this further and positions the business owner as the guide and the customer as the hero in the story. The villain is our customer’s problem or pain point, that you’re going to help them solve.

So translating this to visual content, everything you show should be positioned on the story arc to help and guide your customer to the solution for their problem.

What’s your story and how could you bring it to life with visual content?

A series of storytelling images showing the opening of Hope House in Bath

Keep it simple

As Donald Miller repeatedly tells us “keep it simple”. If you confuse you’ll lose.

If your visual content is too busy, there’s a good chance the viewer will get confused and they won’t know what to focus on. Simplify your images, remove distracting elements and draw the viewer’s attention to what you want them to see.

Align the visuals with your words

Suppose you’re an artisan food producer and you talk about locally sourced ingredients and a close working relationship with your suppliers that roots you in your community. But on your website the visual content lacks personality and feels mass market. Will anyone believe what say?

If you’re using the power of a story, your audience needs to believe you. Break this rule and there’s a good chance your viewers will we be gone before the end of chapter one!

Make it bespoke

When you share visual content, it’s easy to fall into the trap of following the norm.  Why not take a risk and stamp your personality on your images and stand out from the crowd.

Use posed and candid shots, play around with angles, light and colour and present your own visual style. Avoid the bland and beige stereotyped images and create content that tells your unique story and connects with your brand.

A series of story telling images of Warminster based Number Ten Interiors

Show authentic emotion

If you’ve decided to have professional photography to show the face of your brand, take the time to find a photographer you feel comfortable with. Once you feel relaxed, give yourself permission to show the real you, so you can connect authentically with your audience.

If you feel self-conscious in front of the camera, you could include some task-based images or client interaction shots. Just make sure they’re visually engaging and move the viewer along the story arc.

Reveal a connection or show a contradiction

Playing with contradictions and connections can reveal tension or harmony. Depending on your objectives either may be suitable. Whatever your approach be intentional and draw the viewer into the story.

Capture the mood

What kind of mood do you want to create?  Calming and relaxing, high energy and adrenaline rushed or something different altogether.

There’s no right or wrong here, but it needs to connect with your brand and your copy. In photography we can shift the mood with colour, light and movement. You could choose light pastel colours with a subtle fade, bold primary colours packed with vibrancy and punch or a mysterious dark and heavily shadowed black and white image.

Each will feel very different and will either connect, reinforce or conflict with your message.

What style connects with your personal brand?

and finally…don’t forget the details

Once you’ve planned your content and you’ve captured the wide story telling shots that show your workshop, coaching session or studio, make sure you include the details too.

As you move in closer, you remove distractions and really focus the viewers attention where you want it. Think about how Apple uses visual content and close up photography to focus on the high-end finish of an iPhone. They want that emotional connection where you imagine how it feels to hold and own the very latest iPhone!

I hope I’ve inspired you to take your audience on a visual journey. Is now the time to show more of yourself and bring what you do to life with original visual content?

Interested in learning more?

Get the free guide and I’ll show you 6 ways personal branding photography can help you grow your business.