The Art of Storytelling: why we all love stories

What storytelling is really about, and why we all love stories? Once the story is told and appreciated, primarily for their beauty or emotional power, storytelling becomes art.

Storytelling has become a buzz word in recent years

And it is not surprising, cause more than a trend, storytelling is the response to the natural human need of telling stories, and pass them down from generation to generation.

As soon as humans figured out how to turn words into narratives, regardless of the method we choose, we all seek to freeze and share our most valuable memories. Our stories.

To tell a story is an art

When someone expresses using creative skill and imagination to tell a story, despite all technique -by definition- is creating art. So, we can recognize storytelling as "the art of telling stories."

Using universal language, stories keep us engaged! Once you are hooked by a good story, always want to know more about it. Stories help us to acknowledge more about any particular topic, and sometimes can even give us meaning or purpose. We all cherish those stories that make it easier for us to understand simple concepts, evoke us certain feelings, or catapult unique emotions. After all, as J.K. Rowling -Harry Potter's author- stated: "The stories we love best do live in us forever."

Compelling and credible stories use the narrative of the circumstances that happen to provoke a deep understanding of the conditions of living beings

Notice I am pointing to living beings in general because stories are not only about people. A good story can be about a message in a bottle that travels from Alaska to Argentina. It could also be about how the level of the sea grown in the last years because of global warming. But ultimately, it is the living beings the link that unites all the pieces, to shape and give meaning to the story itself. It is the narrative that leads us through the emotion, connection, empathy, desire, ambition, conflict, or whatever feeling we would experience about a story.

The Art of Telling Unscripted Stories

The Art of Telling Unscripted Stories

In a TED talk about how we all use photos to tell our stories, the photo director for National Geographic David Griffin stated:

"A memory is when all elements come together to define not just the event, but our emotional connection to it."

Obviously, David knows the power of photography to connect us to our world, and I agree entirely. The fabulous (or even bad) memories will always be in our hearts.

From a very young age, the passion for photography woke up in me,

I was amazed at all the details that I could observe, remember, or even imagine, just by seeing a photograph. Now I can recognize that since then, I understood that the most beautiful, exhaustive, and accurate way to tell a story is through a visual narrative.

I live exploring and shaping the style that best suits me to express myself. But it was until I dived in wedding photography, that I realized of this cold fact. While you are busy shooting the usual wedding shots, there is an immensity of beautiful moments and peculiar details that are happening around. So, it was a natural process for me to evolve from traditional wedding photography to want to tell genuinely real wedding stories: storytelling wedding photography. In my quest for artistic inspiration, I faithfully embraced that a good photograph can help the narrative or be the narrative.

That's how I discovered my true vocation as an Honest Visual Storyteller!

When I am holding my camera, I have a blast focusing my attention in real, unscripted moments. Seeking the most attractively visual effect. But most of all, keeping in mind that the core of my coverage is in the story itself. Without the motivation or purpose of a story, an event, or circumstance, there is no sense of storytelling. A visually beautiful photograph without a story to tell becomes merely an exercise for the storyteller. If I see a beautiful light coming from some clouds and I want to take a picture of it, the story could be significant for me but not for other viewers. It can be appreciated as a beautiful image, but it stops there. It isn't substantial because the story will depend on the perspective and imagination of each viewer, without any tangible guidance from the storyteller.

Picture it for a second on your mind. If I have to choose between two options, for example, a beautiful sunset or a newlywed's genuine moment with their parents. Which picture you think I'm going to take? Obviously, the right one for the narrative. And, if I'm quick and smart enough, once I already have the image I want, I will try to go to the next level, and include the story of the people with the sunset, in the same picture. Therefore, when I'm shooting photographs for my storytelling, the story must come first.

A good wedding story can't be told with just a few must-have photos or the routine wedding shots. It needs what it needs, and it's the task of the storyteller to make the right constant decision to tell the story in the best way possible. It requires skills, experience, vision, but the real keywords are consistency and authenticity.

This is what storytelling for me is about:

Enjoy the fantastic experience first, embrace it, and understanding what is happening around. It's going behind the obvious or the instant, reading all aspect details of a single moment, yet involving it in the whole story.

This image is a beautiful sample of storytelling. Despite the supposed simple appearance of this photograph, we can all appreciate its many details and information:

It's a candid moment that goes beyond a snapshot.

There are 15 people in this image, and each one of them is showing their own personal signature, body language, and vibe. It was shot on a wedding cocktail hour, a moment for family and friends to hang out, relax, and just be themselves.

This is the kind of unscripted scene that allows us to appreciate their personalities, how they dress up, and what they were doing at that exact moment. And what is more remarkable than having a great document like this? That is an image that will last over time. Unexpected, unscripted, real.

Storytelling can freeze the decisive moment, the exact moment where something important is happening.

Like in this picture:

Honest Visual Storytelling

It's an easy-to-read scene where the groom, according to his Jewish tradition, is breaking the glass, symbolizing the absolute finality of the marital covenant. But what I adore of this wedding scene, are the looks of the people involved.

Some of the most influential people for the newlyweds (best man, maid of honor, and the rest of the bridal party) are intensively looking at the breaking glass ritual or directly at the groom's face. Everyone is highly connected to the bride and groom's moment, smiling and feeling good about it. They love them, and in this picture, you can appreciate their authentic happiness and curiosity. The cherry of the cake is the wedding minister preparing himself to tell them, the mighty-word Mazel Tov, which means congratulations in Jewish. Awesome.

This image is different from the others above. It's less obvious, more artistic, but still exhaustive. There isn't any crucial-decisive moment, faces are not visible as in the other two pictures. Which is great because it is another but important puzzle-piece of the overall story.

This wedding was held at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel in Cabo San Lucas known for its iconic contemporary minimalist architecture. It was about one hour before the sunset, and the light was gorgeous. All wedding guests were waiting for the beginning of the ceremony, drinking a refreshing cocktail, and finding the best spots to enjoy the breathtaking landscape view of Los Cabos bay. The groom's silhouette is placed at the center of my photograph, with this tiny gesture of moving to the ceremony area. Despite the pleasant atmosphere of this scene, it's a dynamic photograph, it focuses on a moment of transition. With the use of an "imposing" exposure, right colors and transition-mood, and those striking shadows, my idea was to freeze this kind of transition-mood in a more artistic and visual vibe.

What does that mean?

I will try to explain it methodically, by using the insights, feelings, and vibes I felt right before I took the picture. This is what was really happening in my mind:

  • This light is fantastic!. If I expose for the highlights, I can fully appreciate the colors of this beautiful late-afternoon, and all people will appear as stunning silhouettes.
  • I want to catch the guys drinking on the left, possibly framing them into the white of the clouds, to be able to appreciate it and read it better.
  • I want to catch the groom in the middle of the scene.
  • If the guy on the right keeps talking and stays where he is, I can play with his shadow on the floor. Actually, I can get two things done at once. The shinning of the light on the floor at the right-bottom is so distracting. So, if I fill this space with the shadow, it will help twice.

Once all that happened in my mind, and I was ready to click, I quickly added two more aims to my shot. I waited a little more of the expected time to get as many distinct silhouettes as possible. I mean, clean shapes with as much space around their bodies as possible. And at last, I composed with a straight horizon and straight perspective lines made by the fantastic building structure.

As a result, it's without a doubt, a unique photo; there are so many details and decisions that are making this exact moment be challenging to replicate. But we don't need to reproduce anything. We need to feel real, authentic, and to be faithful to who we are. So why fake it? Why pretend or stage it? It is beautiful as it is, and it's real.

Well, this is pretty much the way I shape my storytelling. A series of honest and authentic moments happening in a particular time, with specific light, a visual and captivating composition, and finally a personal interpretation.

Remember, if you love to fly with your mind, to imagine and dream, you are free to do it with a photograph. As John Lennon replied: "Reality leaves a lot to the imagination."

Di Lusso

Happy stories to all of you! D.

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