We are all natural storytellers. It’s essential to being human. Now with the innovations of photography and technology, we have the ability to share our stories with anyone instantly. In today’s world and in the tomorrow we are already creating, photography isn’t just everyone’s communication tool, it’s everyone’s creative outlet. It’s our key to getting back to being the natural storytellers we already are.
Photography is a reflection of our realities, our individual experiences. Every creative aspect of visual storytelling is a perfect metaphor of that same creative aspect of life. Perspective, Depth of Field, Motion, Leading Lines, Patterns, Color, LIGHT… I could go on… but you get the idea. What draws us to the art of creating photography is inherently what draws us into the art of creating an interesting story, that is an interesting experience in life itself.
This is why we all love to take photos. This is what drives the natural storyteller in all of us.
Let me ask you some things.
What experiences give us that urge to pick up a camera?
What moments give us the desire to stop time?
What experience do we want to recall time and again?
The ones that matter to us of course!
The ones that we put meaning towards. That is the ones that we feel are most interesting to our lives. This is how we create interesting visual stories. We start by creating interesting real-life stories to capture. So to create the most interesting eye-catching visual story we have to get back to that feeling that draw us into our experiences in the first place.
That urge to pick up the camera was not a thought first, it was a feeling first. If we want to create the most interesting image, we must let the story (our lives) unfold before us. We must follow those feelings that first arise when we get the urge to create our story.
Think about a time when you enjoyed taking a photo. What was the experience you were having? What scene did you see that made you want to pick up the camera? What feeling did this experience give you?
That feeling was evoked from within. You didn’t think it up. There were no thoughts involved prior to knowing that feeling. You simply became aware of a feeling and you got the urge to capture the experience that made that feeling come to life.
The Awareness Muscle
If we want to create the most interesting image, we don’t start with lighting, or our subject, we have to back up and start with our actual awareness of the scene. Building awareness allows us to follow those natural feelings with confidence, it allows our curiosity to lead us to what we find most interesting about the scene.
Why is this so important? Because from awareness comes more understanding of ourselves in the world. From awareness comes infinite possibilities we were blind to before. From awareness comes clarity of what truly interests us, what we are personally drawn towards at this moment. Awareness is everything. It is the start and end to every moment, every idea, every choice, every story we create. This is as true in visual storytelling as it is in life itself.
When we build our awareness muscle we begin to build a better foundation for our stories to come to life. It gives us the ability to compose and capture our story the way we want the viewer to feel, the way we truly felt when we experienced it.
So, how do we build our awareness muscle? We can start building this essential muscle by simply considering the reality of our actual body in the present moment. Sounds silly, I know. But let me ask you this another question. Why is this such a silly notion? Because we haven’t strengthened our awareness muscles yet!
Building Full Body Awareness
To clarify, I am talking about full body awareness, not just what your mind is aware of. I’m not telling you to just think about things around you. The mind is inside the brain, which is a part of the body. Therefore, we must learn to incorporate all of our body awareness, to really begin to “see” what makes our experiences interesting. Building our full body awareness is the first step to building an understanding of anything. We cannot understand something before first having a thought about it and we cannot have a thought about something before first becoming aware of it.
Full awareness starts in the present moment before thoughts can intervene. If our mind steps in and takes over, from those thoughts we usually over think what “should be” our story of that experience. From those thoughts we think through (usually over think) what we think is our understanding or our story of that experience. We’ve missed the mark of what’s unique and interesting to us because we ’re only in our minds, not in our full bodies. We weren’t being fully aware of ourselves in the present moment.
Instead, by building full body awareness first, our story can come to life organically by following the feelings that are real and interesting to us, by discovering the story we really want to share.
That’s the magic of photography. In an instant, an image has the power to connect us to a story, a story that feels real to us, one that we never knew just a second before. In that second, that image can alter our perspective on anything. That’s the power of visual storytelling and it starts with the power of self-awareness.
The beauty of this simple truth is that your mind and your body already know this! Our bodies already give us so many incredible clues to its self-awareness. Self-awareness is as natural to humanity as storytelling.
We just have to take time to slow down and reconnect to build a better relationship with our mind and body awareness to make our stories more interesting. Not just behind the camera, but in every single moment of life. The easiest way to start building awareness is by simply allowing your feelings to come forth and pay attention to them in the moment. Let these feelings give you clues, clues to what you’re curious about, clues to what’s interesting to you.
Now that we have that power to share our stories instantly, let’s discover a deeper level of self-awareness so we can share our stories with more purpose, more passion, and more truth.
Raise your awareness and share your uniqueness with the world.