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Visual storytelling methods

Site: OpenLearn Create
Course: Grassroots Visual Storytelling
Book: Visual storytelling methods
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Wednesday, 17 July 2024, 10:23 AM

1. Introduction

There are many different methods to visual storytelling, depending on the meaning you want to convey, the resources you have available and the emotions you want to evoke. There are many different ways to tell a story and different methods you can use. Stories can be highly narrativized, similar to a Disney movie where characters, morals and messages are clearly defined. Inversely, they can have low narrative appeal. Similar to an abstract painting, there is no clearly defined intent, message or character. Audiences become participants and imbue the story with their own understandings.

The easiest way to create a digital story is to simply take and share some visual imagery with an associated text or commentary. For example, this photostory, created for a simple exercise by Nieves Gomez, one of the participants in our first course, tells a clear story about growing and sharing your harvest with the sheep.

Photostory showing the growing of carrots and then feeding them to sheep

To create a more sophisticated story, you can weave the imagery together into captivating, entertaining adventures. These could include villains, victims and heroes. Such characters need not be people; they can be plants, animals and even supposedly inanimate objects.

2. The ‘wave storyline’

Another technique to create more complex and structured stories is the ‘wave storyline’. You first start by tracking down the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘when’. As you approach the crest of the wave, you start addressing the problems and quid-pro-quos. In other words, the interesting, splashy and explosive part of your story. Then you slowly decrease the intensity of your story and maybe begin to offer some insights of where the story is going to go next i.e. a new wave.

Illustration of the 'wave storyline' showing a watercolour painting of a wave with annotations for the different steps

The ‘wave storyline’ offers you a chance to visualise the structure and rhythm of your story. Once you have a story in mind, try to map it onto the wave!

The aim is to encourage creativity and playfulness, so that the process of documenting and sharing your or your communities’ challenges and solutions is fun for both you as the creator and the eventual viewers. Maybe you’ve already seen some of the videos produced by our first project cohort in your gardens, but you will experience how powerful it is to see videos or images of places and situations that you are familiar with from your community food growing initiative and how this can help to engage others.