Every photographer says that they just want to tell a story. It didn’t occur to me until last week that this is a big problem. Are we all just telling stories? If that is the case then we’re all selling something pretty similar, no?
OK, we’ve got to figure this out because if we’re all just telling stories then we don’t have anything distinct to sell. So if that’s what we’re going to do we’ve got to find some way of providing distinction to what our stories look like. What kind of story do you tell? What parts of the story do you leave out? What perspective do you tell the story from? What format does the story take? How does it unfold? And most importantly how does the client understand what your version of a story is like?
The way you tell a story ought to be distinct and discernable compared to how someone else tells a story. Let me make an argument as to why you ought to explicitly say something about your method of storytelling instead of just letting (hoping?) that the work itself does the job.
Think about filmmakers. Take one script and pick any 4 directors. Speilberg, Tarantino, Fincher, Burton, whoever you like – each one is going to tell that story differently. Each one is going to have a different tone. Each one is going to hit different emotions. Each movie is going to feel different, even in the subject matter is the same.
Filmmakers have an opportunity to build a filmography and reputation. There are interviews on Letterman and special features on the home release and critical analyses that tell you what the tone is like. There is a script and a musical score that does some of the heavy lifting. Everyone knows what those filmmakers do and how it is going to feel to watch one of their movies.
We creative entrepreneurs rarely have that reach. We don’t have that sort of cultural relevance. We don’t get reviewed and interviewed. The type of story we tell isn’t well-established and preceding us in the market. So be willing to make some statements about it, because the client isn’t going to live with us, they are going to look for us when they need us. We’ve got to be willing to do the heavy lifting for them.
Hardly any successful artist actually leaves the work itself to do all the communication, why should you?