What Makes A Photo Tell A Story?

"Yonkeros" - Jaime Permuth

What Makes A Photo Tells A Story?

What Makes A Photo Tells A Story? 366 219 Shlomi Ron

In this episode, I chat with Jaime Permuth, an award-winning photographer and professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

With the tremendous growth in photo sharing – globally, people share 95 million photos on Instagram every day! – I am often asked how can you tell a story in a single photo? I have already shared my thoughts about the subject in my article “5 Easy Ways to Create Narrative Images.”  But for this episode, I decided to consult with an expert.

With video, it’s much easier as it’s, in essence, a sequence of images where you can tell a complete story with different characters and scenes. But what you do when you need to compress an entire story into a single scene? I discussed with Jaime about his storytelling approach, the key narrative elements he uses. Jaime also presented a few photos and discussed their backstories and the visual storytelling technique the photographer used.

What you will learn:

  • What was the journey that led you to be involved in photography?
  • What are the key elements that constitute a visual grammar of a photo?
  • How can you use these visual grammar elements to tell a compelling story in a single photo?
  • How do you create an emotional connection between a photo and the audience?
  • Photo examples and the visual storytelling techniques photographers, including Jaime, use
  • And much more

Watch the full video recording of this interview:

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A bit about Jaime.

He is an award-winner photographer based in New York City. Jaime is known for his long-form documentary work and his photographs have been shown nationally and internationally, including NYC venues such as The Museum of Modern Art, The Queens Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Museum of the City of New York, The Jewish Museum, El Museo del Barrio, and The Brooklyn Museum of Art. He is also a Faculty Member at the School of Visual Arts, where I teach in the Master in Digital Photography and also at the New York Film Academy’s Conservatory Program in Photography.

It was a fascinating discussion you’ll learn a ton from. I really enjoyed discovering the stories behind the photos Jaime shared. You realize that unlike video where the visual storyteller serves you an explicit sequence of events, photos require the audience to infer from what they see in a single frame, and use the invisible parts to complete the story in their minds.

What the photographer chooses not to show in a frame is even more important than what she chooses to show.

In this light, unlocking the story behind a photo, is, in essence, an interactive mental experience where the eye of the viewer plays the role of a video camera, looking around, capturing meaningful key details in the photo, and then creating a narrative sequence of visible and invisible elements that finally build a story.

Shlomi Ron

Shlomi Ron is the CEO of the Visual Storytelling Institute (VSI), the primary think tank for helping brands rise above the communication noise through visual storytelling consulting, training, production, and thought leadership. A digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience working both on the agency and brand sides for Fortune 100/500 brands such as Nokia, IBM, and American Express. Along his journey, he was nursing his side passion for visual media with interests in classic Italian cinema (cafePellicola.com) and video art (BukySchwartz.com). Thought leader and speaker at key marketing conferences. He is also the host of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast. Shlomi's new book: Total Acuity: Tales with Marketing Morals To Help You Create Richer, Visual Brand Stories. His favorite quote: "A story is nothing but a mirror. The magic happens the moment your brand story mirrors your customer’s personal story." Outside work, he is a nascent bread baker, The Moth fan, and longtime fedora wearer likely to jive with his classic Italian cinema interest.

All stories by: Shlomi Ron
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