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Frequently Asked (and Answered) Questions

What is visual storytelling?FAQ
A thematically related group of images (rendered as photographs, videos or graphics), often combined with text, interviews and narration, that communicate a personal experience, idea or concept. Visual stories are often told from a point of view that leads the audience to a particular conclusion or action.

What are the advantages of visual over verbal storytelling?
In reality, good visual stories also contain good verbal content. But visual stories typically project more meaning and emotional force than those told using words alone. The result is a more powerful, more persuasive and longer lasting engagement with the audience.

How can visual storytelling help my organization?
NPOs and foundations have long used stories to describe the work they do and to reinforce the importance of their missions. Those stories are usually told using the written word and published in formats such as donor solicitations, web copy, annual reports and newsletters.

But today’s digital on-demand world offers NPOs an opportunity to produce cost-effective stories that include visual dimensions. As a result, NPO stories can have greater impact because:

Why can’t we just use stock photos?
In many circumstances, stock images work fine so long as they add value to the stories. But stock images can fall short in a couple of ways. First, because they are generic, they don’t tell the story of your own organization, clients, staff members and volunteers. Second, stock images can be perceived as less authentic than custom images. And that can have a negative effect on your audience.

My staff takes photos at our events, why do I need your services?
More than a collection of images, a good visual story relies on a narrative arc with a beginning, middle and end. It is also constructed with a specific audience in mind. And it requires well-framed images that are edited, sequenced and presented in a compelling way.

I offer services that include planning and producing visual stories that can be integrated into marketing campaigns. In addition, I offer workshops that can help your staff plan and take better photographs, manage those images, and select images as the basis for visual stories.

How can my organization use visual storytelling?
Visual stories can be incorporated into a variety of formats such as books, reports, e-Newsletters, websites, videos, slideshows, photo essays, presentations and media kits. I can also build campaigns around stories for purposes of fundraising, event promotion, awareness building and issue advocacy.

The nature of our agency’s services requires that we protect the privacy and safety of our clients. Can visual storytelling still be useful?
There are several techniques that can be used to ensure client anonymity. For example, photographing from behind so that faces are unrecognizable, focusing on staff members, or using former clients as a way to demonstrate agency outcomes. Other visual formats, such as illustrations or infographics, can also be used in place of client images. I’ll be happy to discuss your specific requirements.

Are model releases necessary?
It largely depends on how the images are used and the nature of the relationship between your organziation and the subjects in the photographs. We’ll discuss the options based on your needs.