If you think about all of your favorite movies, what was it about those movies that made them your favorite? Sure there are visuals, and sound effects, and things designed to keep your attention – but those things don’t make a good movie, they just enhance it. How about your favorite fiction book? Why was it your favorite book? There are no visuals or sound effects. The reason these are your favorites is that they all gave you an emotional reaction throughout the entire duration you spent consuming them. They had a compelling story that sucked you in. The story brought you on a journey that gave you a feeling of excitement, nostalgia, beauty, sadness, or a combination of all kinds of emotions.
Storytelling has become kind of a cliche in the business world over the last few years, but the truth is – it does often matter when it comes to your business. When people look at your logo, or think about your business – you want them to experience a positive emotional reaction of some sort.
Let’s do a quick experiment:
What is the FIRST emotional reaction that comes to mind when I say “Apple”?
What is the FIRST emotional reaction that comes to mind when I say “Microsoft”?
Chances are, you associated a more positive emotional response to the brand you use (or WANT to be using). But guess what… they both do the exact.same.thing!
The reason I have taken nearly a minute of your time (if you are a slow reader like me) explaining all of this stuff up to this point is to drive home the fact that I truly understand branding at a fundamental level, and I think that the photographer that you use should understand this as well. If they don’t understand this or are not actively thinking about it on YOUR behalf, they are just another person with a camera who knows how to take pretty pictures. Their lack of understanding will not help you with your brand.
With all of that out of the way, let’s talk about how you can tell stories with photos. First thing, you need to know what sort of emotions or thoughts you want your potential clients to experience when thinking about your brand. Fun? Whimsy? Airy? Nostalgic? High-energy? Modern? Once you identify this, let your photographer know. If they are good, they will know how to communicate that through the images they make.
Keep in mind that the experience you want people to have should match with your actual brand. If you are quirky, high-energy and have kind of a modern approach to design, you don’t necessarily want to have soft and airy images. That is mismatched.
That said, here is a brief summary of my approach. First of all, it needs to start with my client first. I know that Renae’s style is very graceful, and it is important to show that she can apply this graceful style across many styles of homes. So, how do we show grace through a photo in a modern home with lots of dark, hard edges? We do this with beautiful, soft light, soft textures, and a bit of “real life”. A well placed, slightly crooked chair with a perfectly placed throw which helps to keep things soft. I need to keep these things in mind for every shot.
All of these elements are important to tell a story. In this case, the “story” I wanted to tell about this house is that this seemingly cold, modern home is actually warm, cozy, and pleasant. A place people are abel to relax.
Now, sorytelling doesn’t always have to include people, but it certainly helps. Sometimes, it could just include a simple prop like a blanket, or a book – or even a crooked chair. Sometimes it is simply a matter of composition or lighting. The point is, anyone can take a photo with a camera – not everyone can tell a story with it. In the original final, we actually had models in the shot, but due to privacy concerns – we opted out of using them.
In the example above, you can see the finished product of a shot that is far from where we started. Here are the unedited progression shots that show how we made the final image above.
So, when all is said and done… aren’t we really just throwing some props in the photo and messing around with things until they look cool? Well… yeah, lol. But we are still trying to achieve a very particular feeling.
I hope this sheds a little bit of light on how invested I am in my clients brand. A lot of thought goes into images like this and the process begins well before I have my camera setup.
I would love to talk with you about your brand and to get a better sense of what types of stories we need to communicate in the images we make together.