What Photography Can Teach the Social Web

Another addition to this seemingly growing series of how other industries can help the social web grow up, this one takes a walk with photography. I have quite a few friends who are photographers whether by profession or hobby many traits and habits extend pass their disposition. I began looking at how we can take the basics and learn how to interact with the social web more effectively.

If there’s one thing photography has taught us it is that equipment does not define the photographer or the work that they will produce. If you’re a fan of photography you also understand that the seemingly subject of the photo is sometimes not the focal point at all. Sometimes photography is about inciting an emotion over idolizing the subject.

Photography caught my attention by the sheer ability to tell a story in a singular frame, it’s something that often can’t be attained through video. It was this aspect of photography that always excited me, even as a young child I would crank through rolls of film hoping to find that one perfect photo that would tell my story. It was more difficult than I had thought it would be. I knew that photography was about telling stories, that felt innate and pushed me towards understanding photography.

Understanding the balance of the settings on your camera is important but composition can separate the novice from the expert. Composition is how you set up your photo, choosing where the subject is in the frame, how close or far away they are, the visual weight of the frame, negative space, etc. Even if you don’t understand all of this simply know that this is where the story comes together.

As I began to look at all of this information more intently it’s easy to see that the story is the most important aspect of photography. Whether you have a $5 disposable camera or a $7500 professional camera a great story can be communicated through both. Obviously knowing how to use the tools you have is important but understanding great storytelling is more important.

This vein of thinking began prompting many other questions that I think we should all consider.

Are we telling stories at all?

People don’t need to hear product pitches, they need a story how your product will change their life.

Are we exploring new ways to tell our stories?

Like photographers we have to experiment and explore our world to avoid stagnation.

Should we find new subjects to tell the story?

The story of your business should be the same, help people solve their problems or make them happy but sometimes the subjects need to change. Maybe your current subject (person not topic) isn’t working or needs to update themselves.

What is our businesses primary story?

This is a tough one to tackle, if you sell software or widgets or a service how do you tell a story that excites people. I read this book by Debra Fine that simplifies why people buy, first, to solve a problem, second, to make themselves happy. I feel that even with these oversimplified options it makes it easier to figure out your story. If your product makes people happy then tell a story how someone was not happy without your product but then found your product and it changed them. Just like with any story we are addicted to transformation. When one experiences difficulties and can overcome them through an object or help from others that is something we want to know about. This may sound all too fundamental and elementary but if we all understood storytelling we wouldn’t need any more business because we would have all the business we need. If you look at every great leader, thinker, inventor, and innovator you’ll notice a strong common thread. They are addicted to the idea of change through the power of storytelling.

Want more business?

Tell better stories.

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