Telling our own Stories Digitally


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A few entries ago, I wrote about my friend Joe the photographer. I pointed out that how other people express themselves through their actions, their creativity, and what they share in general is how we learn about them. It’s also how we learn about ourselves in how we interpret the world around us. Much of the time when we look at things that are particularly artistic and impactful, we’re a bit taken aback at what we see there. Sometimes that’s because it’s creativity in a much different form than what we are used to. I other cases, it’s because it shows the subject in a stunning fashion.

Joe’s got some pictures of Chattanooga and Atlanta at night that are pretty stunning. Yet most of his other work is quieter and more reflective and that’s what I gravitate to. It’s a little like Seinfeld – a show about nothing. Seinfeld tells stories about the mundane in ridiculous ways with some disregard for reality. It’s still based in reality though. The same with shots of nature.

What digital tools have done lately is put more of us in positions to tell stories about the mundane.i really enjoy updates by friends that show off some of the nothing things of life but in a different way. Tools like Instagram almost dare us not to be creative. Each time we take a picture, we’re telling a story. Even if its a poorly lit shot in a bar, we try to take the person who looks at it out of where they’re at into our lives for a bit. Playing with the picture to make it look different adds to the effect. It’s not just what we’re doing, it’s what we are feeling. Here are some examples.

This first one are a few of the places I’ve traveled this year for business. Shot one is of an old building by the highway in Detroit. It looked desolate, lonely, and devoid of color. I actually stripped more out of it to set it apart some. The concrete barrier was just in the way while I was shooting from the passenger seat in the car, but it makes the building look even further away.

Here are a few sayings I’ve come across. The storyteller image is off the menu in José Andrés’ restaurant in DC. I loved that he was telling stories with food. To Drink / To Know / To Do were separate flyers in a hotel I stayed at. They were put together like that on the desk. I thought the actual order of drinking, deciding on something, then actually going out and doing it may not have been terrific advice!

Lastly, I like goofing off with my family. The first shot here is from the Summer when we went to Six Flags for my son’s birthday. It was a typical hot and humid day that ended in a lighting storm right after we left. Those are the kinds of days that leave you tired from all the fun you’ve had. Here my son was sporting what I called “roller coaster hair.” You can see how it blew back from going over 60 mph and just stuck there. Another shot is of my younger boy who, I swear, has never seen a Bon Jovi video. How on Earth did he rock out like that? Is it in core guy DNA? Were my genetics altered by loud arena rock in the 80’s? Who knows.

While we may gripe about how much time we spend online, the Internet and social media can empower us to tell more about ourselves and connect even better. I doubt I would have taken many of these pictures if it weren’t to use them to tell stories in some fashion. I’ve started seeking out occasions to snap shots that tell my own story and my own outlook on things. We can take moments about nothing, tell stories about them, and create experiences.

Here are some other examples I think are interesting.  Jonathan Harris’s TED talk on The Web as Art shows some very cool visualizations that are well worth checking out. I found this photoblog on Freshly Pressed on WordPress (I think) and was instantly drawn to the author’s graphic style. Definitely have a look. You’l find yourself drawn in and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling watching the stories unfold.

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