Why Tell a Story Instead of Taking a Picture?

Why Tell a Story Instead of Taking a Picture?

“Sadly, at some point children will begin to lose their fantasy thinking. They begin to figure out there really is no Santa Claus or that cartoon characters are not real. This is the beginning of logical thinking. School will begin to teach them more conventional rules, such as math and grammar. Even so, the brain still likes to have fun …” – Reynold Chan, M.D.

My ongoing professional evolution is from communicator to storyteller. An image remains in my head with me sitting in a freshman critique contemplating a picture of an empty chair sitting by a lake shore. My Professor asked me, “What questions does this photo inspire in you?” While I’m still unsure exactly what he was after, I do recall rewinding my 18 year old memory of lakeside and empty chair experiences.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” – Dr. Seuss

Don’t you add photos after the story is written? Don’t book covers illustrate the book? Somewhat opposed to my early convention, that lake shore photo was my personal fairy-tale catalyst. This was my earliest realization that stories are told in every way imaginable. My lakeside narrative would not exist but for the photo in freshman critique, yet the photographer was oblivious to my tale.

The idea that the most powerful photographs create unanswered questions is somewhat counter intuitive. They launch what is familiar and relateable then add another element; a mystery element that forces you to search your experiences for unavailable pat answers simultaneously refusing to release the original connection.

Powerful images don’t deliver complete information; without the void you’d reject your imagination. It’s the same balancing act that is found in great storytelling. Void replacement propels the story forward.

In this video is Story teller Jay O’Callahan. Listen to him tell of the Moon Landing and try to imagine getting all that information another way: perhaps a Powerpoint presentation with all the bells, whistles and completed bullet points? Hardly. O’Callahan’s story gives us frames for our imagination. We feel it as part of our human condition; imagining the guts it took to leap from the lunar module. I don’t know about you but it never occurred to me that Armstrong’s leap moment was death defying.

The contexts of unanswered questions offer suggestions, and suggestions are valuable when the story is strong. Suggest too much and the questions are answered, not enough and the value is lost leaving context with no clout.

In the Masthead photo: Jay performing “Pouring the Sun” at Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, NY – Photo by Randy Krautsack

Imagination, Photography, Story Telling, Video, Writing

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