Visual storytellling

!! To be further developed alongside my work for the Visual Research module focusing on visual narrative and storytelling for international development agencies.

visual narrative (also visual storytelling) is a story told primarily through the use of visual media. Different media have their own particular story-telling characteristics and requirements in the ways in which basic principles of visual dynamics are used to create meaning.

Single image narratives

Visual narratives can be single image narratives where one photograph or illustration tells a story through the visual dynamics of elements in a frame. Placing something at the front or top of an image will create a different meaning from placing something at the back or bottom.

Key examples are:

  • cartoons like those of William Hogarth
  • photographs of Martin Parr and Stephen Shore

Multiple images

Narratives may also involve multiple images in juxtaposition and/or sequence as in:

  • collage
  • image narrative galleries and portfolios
  • comics and graphic books

The Photobook
Photobooks offer a tactile one-to-one viewing experience for the reader were they control the place and time. Photographer/designer can give detailed narrative guidance through the images by linear sequencing and juxtaposition in page layout. At the same time, the reader is freer to override this design and establish their own viewing experience.

Photobook Design and Publishing
Photobook Inspiration

  • slide-shows and narrative screen or on-line presentations
  • video, animations and slide-shows.
  • on-line interactive experiences
  • This involves a consideration of:

In addition to consideration of the visual dynamics of each image these also involve:

  • which images are chosen and what they stand for
  • where they’re placed in relation to each other to create hierarchy and/or contrast/contradiction

Visual images can be accompanied by text, music, voice and other audio.

Meaning, symbols and semiotics

Visual story-telling requires an understanding of the process of visual communication:

  • how images are coded with meaning/s – and how these are affected by the particular skills and views of the storyteller.
  • how viewers might then decode these images – how those meanings are read.
  • ‘noise’ affecting the relationship between the two – whether it should be eliminated or accommodated. The type of ‘noise’ will vary depending on who is looking at the work, where they are, and their cultural standpoint.

Presentations and slideshows

Sequencing of still images.

An on-line audio-visual piece can be a piece of art in itself – with images carefully sequenced and timed as a narrative with complementary sound effects and/or narration and/or music as part of the art. It can also be  part of the promotional  ‘presence’ of the work – to coincide with an exhibition or publication, or to help raise interest in funding for a future project.

Time-based audio-visual presentations

Animation

Video