Picture storytelling - how to tell a story with one photo?

Service Business

Can you tell an interesting story about a brand, product or company with just one image? The well-known saying that a picture expresses more than a thousand words may be an excellent answer. Pictorial storytelling allows you to interest your audience while saving their time. For a photo to become a story, however, it must meet several conditions.

What is pictorial storytelling?

Storytelling - telling a story - has started to be of great importance in marketing. It turned out that people love to hear interesting stories and remember them willingly. They also acquire an emotional attitude towards his characters. Narrative marketing can be about almost anything - brand, product, person, or enterprise. However, sometimes the multitude of words needed to tell a story can be replaced by an image.

Pictorial storytelling can take various forms - infographics, photojournalism, comics or a single photo. In this text, we will focus on the latter form and suggest how to tell a good story in just one photo.

A good story - which is what?

Narrative marketing distinguishes six types of stories that are particularly valuable - because they most clearly affect the recipients. These are:

  • learning story,

  • a story about a vision,

  • a story like "who I am",

  • a story like "why am I here",

  • a story like "I know what you think"

  • a story about values.

It is difficult to accurately translate these types of stories into the language of photography and its specificity.

It may be helpful to specify which types of images (photos) are particularly valuable from a marketing and advertising point of view. Such a combination was created by the classic of advertising John Caples. It also includes six types of photos: product photo, product photo in use, product benefit photo, photo of fulfilled ambition, photo of enlarged detail, and dramatic photo. In addition, the image of the face has a special power to attract customers, especially when the eyes of the presented person are focused on the recipient.

A photo that tells a good story, and effective from a marketing point of view, must therefore use the types presented in both charts.

Pictorial storytelling - features of a good photo

The power of the visual message, in this case a photo, can evoke a lot of emotions in the recipients. If they are positive, the recipient will be more interested in the presented product, brand or person. However, emotions are only one factor influencing the recipient's behavior - the other is the power of the visual message. What makes certain photos more distinct than others? Experts point to four factors:

  • Authenticity - photography must present a certain fragment of reality with all its shades. Pictures cannot be overly idealized - both when it comes to the situations and the people or objects presented in them. Not everything has to be perfect, but it definitely has to be true. Dove ads are a good example here.

  • Diversity - show different people, from different social and professional groups, of different ages. Try not to divide unnecessarily. Thanks to this, various groups of recipients will identify with the characters presented in the picture. Diversity is best seen in the collective scene when the photo shows several people.

  • Presentation of working people - the photos that have been fashionable in recent years emphasize the value of craftsmanship, performing work with reverence, passion and dedication. It is worth presenting the creators and their works at the time of creation as opposed to the progressive techization and digitization of the global community. Working with passion is a signal to the recipient that something unique and outstanding has been created with him in mind.

  • The use of an archetype - it is good when the photo shows an example of the use of one of the classic archetypes, i.e. universal patterns. They can be personified by people or represent objects or animals. 12 archetypes are listed: creator, rebel, ruler, lover, sage, hero, explorer, wizard, guardian, companion, angel, and jester. If your brand builds its image on a specific archetype, try to present it in a photograph.

Create a story that tells about your brand or product and present it in the form of a photo. You know what stories attract your audience, what types of images are beneficial from a marketing point of view, and what are the characteristics of a strong influence on viewers of the photos. Remember that pictorial storytelling can replace words and stays in the memory of your audience much more easily.