Capturing moments: The art of visual storytelling

Post by
Andrea Quintanilla
Capturing moments: The art of visual storytelling

Have you ever come across an image that moved you? A collection of pixels that froze a moment so powerful it stirred your emotions, thoughts, and possibly even shaped your ideas? If you close your eyes for a second and reflect on that picture, can you identify what sets it apart from the billions of photos you've seen throughout your life?

If I were to take a guess, I'd bet that encapsulated within that frame are more than simply subjects or products. I'd wager that the specific composition tells a silent yet impactful story that can only be felt, comprehended, and narrated visually.

V-J Day In Times Square, Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1945
Boston Marathon, Trask, 1967

Visual storytelling is the art of conveying messages, emotions, and narratives in a manner that resonates profoundly with an audience, establishing a lasting connection with them through a visual medium.

As photographers, videographers, and stop-motion artists, we are continually given the opportunity to craft our own stories and share them with the world.

Creator Marco captures a fun moment among friends featuring the enjoyment of Mike’s Hard Seltzer beverages. Source: @creativelysquared

By incorporating narratives into the content we produce, we enable viewers to immerse themselves in a specific place, time, and action. We invite our audience to recall key moments from their lives, allowing them to enhance the storyline of the presented content through the use of their imagination. This results in an emotional response and connection on their part.

Dominating the art of visual storytelling is essential for every creator who wishes to add meaning and value to their work, that is why we've put together a list of 4 tips that will help you enhance your visual stories.

1. Know your character

In every compelling story, there is a protagonist; the same is true for visual narratives.  Before diving into content creation, ponder who the central character of your narrative is. Whether you are capturing a product or a person, envision them as if they were living, breathing entities, and define every aspect of their personality type.

Let's say we are going to create content for Pedigree Kibbles. Before planning our shoot, here is some key information about the brand.

Personality: Fun, loving, energetic, promoter of healthy & happy pets.

Likes: Creating special moments between pets & pet owners.

Dislikes: Unhappy, unhealthy dogs.

Goals: Provide nutritious, complete, and balanced meals.

Hangs out with: Dogs of all ages and breeds + dog owners.

Now that we have the information above, we can start thinking about the narratives that would naturally go with our protagonist and would make sense to capture when creating the content.

Top tip: If you are having trouble defining the traits above, make sure to ask more questions and get more information from the client before you shoot!

Alejandra captures an adorable interaction between the pet and owner to show Pedigree’s brand essence. Source: @creativelysquared
Winda's post-game photo perfectly shows the joy of refueling with a nutritious Pediasure drink. Source: @creativelysquared

2. Create a setting aligned with your character's world

Just as descriptive paragraphs are vital in written stories for readers to envision the setting, the environments we capture in our visuals serve as the stage for our main characters. The visual cues we employ provide insights into their world.

Once you have gotten to know your character, it is important to develop a setting that aligns with your protagonists personality. The chosen setting should facilitate an easy understanding for viewers to delve into and learn more about the character.

A key question to ask yourself when doing this is: How can I showcase my protagonist's personality & key traits in a clear & visual manner?

Taking all the information we have learned about Pedigree Kibbles into consideration, let's create a list of possible settings where we could capture it:

When thinking about the setting, make sure to visualize what props and visual cues can help you transmit your protagonists story in a more effective way. For example: Kibbles Pack, Pet food/water bowl, dog toys, brand colors, etc.

Remember that the combination of the correct setting + visual cues will help your audience understand and relate to your narrative in an easier way.

Lola captures an adorable kitchen moment between pet and owner at mealtime featuring Pedigree. Source: @creativelysquared
Ashley shows everyday cleaning scenarios featuring a Dettol product in the living room. Source: @creativelysquared

3. Convey a clear message

A story without a message or intent is incomplete. Before shooting, make sure you identify the message you want to get across to your viewers. In other words, define the storyline you want to narrate.

There are many messages we could try to communicate when shooting images for Pedigree Kibbles. Some of them could be: the product's benefits, the key ingredients, promoting a healthy lifestyle, or outdoor exploration; but let’s say that for this shoot we want our viewers to see that Pedigree Kibbles make it easy for the owners to bond with their pet.

In order to convey this message, it is essential to build upon the chosen scenario and use the correct lighting, staging, composition, talents, emotions, and expressions to communicate it best. All of these elements used in our shoot should revolve around our central message.

For instance, if we know we want to show strong bonds, we need to make sure that the dog and owner featured are able to transmit that in the images. If we know that we want our audience to perceive that Pedigree Kibbles facilitates that bonding, it would probably be a good idea to include the Kibbles in the images.

Alejandra's photo shows the loving bond between pet and owner at mealtime, perfectly embodying Pedigree's commitment to nurturing this special relationship. Source: @creativelysquared
Huggies' brand personality shines through in tender moments shared between mother and child, as captured by Elizabeth. Source: @creativelysquared


4. Capture your story

Once you've defined your protagonist’s personality, created a world that matches their interests, and defined the story you are going to transmit, it is time to start creating!

Play around with different angles, frames, props, and poses until you achieve the desired shots. Don't be afraid to experiment and test different ideas while you do.

Remember that behind every great story, there are plenty of drafts the audience never gets to see.

Tiger Beer’s fun, carefree brand personality shows in Jitz's photos capturing the enjoyment of its beverages. Source: @creativelysquared


Combining these 4 tips will empower you to create narratives filled with emotion, impactfulness, and connection. It will allow you to master the art of visual storytelling resulting in powerful content that transcends.

Got any more tips for creators looking to up their visual narrative game? Join our free creative community and share with us some helpful tips!

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