Visual storytelling

When I was a child, most people only made photos on birthdays, holidays or vacations. Now, it’s common for people to use their phones to make photos every day as well as short videos — and to share them with the world. There’s no question that visual communication is becoming an increasingly important skill. Yet it is not yet taught much. What can we learn from each other about using photos and videos to share news of interest beyond our circle of friends and family?
Please comment if you would like to share some experiences with visual storytelling and maybe a few tips.


About emiliaaskari

Journalist, teacher, news game designer. Promoting digital literacy and content creation in the public interest.

6 Responses to “Visual storytelling”

  1. Here’s a quick link to the “Candids” portion of my photography portfolio.

    It’s definitely different photographing people when they know you’re taking the picture and when you’re not. That part is all about courage — can you just be sneaky, aim your camera, and snap a picture of an elderly couple or some college students. If you act like you know what you’re doing, people will assume you do. I usually don’t go up to people and say “Can I take your picture? Act natural.” People can’t — they’re too camera-shy.

    A few general rules of photo (all rules can be broken of course):
    1) If it’s a picture of a person or animal, the eyes should be in focus
    2) Rule of Thirds
    3) Don’t cut off limbs
    4) Human interest can really drive a photo (i.e. a picture of a person in a field is more interesting than a picture of a field).
    5) Take a picture more than once! Chances are you won’t get everyone not-blinking all in one shot, so take a bunch and look at them when you get home.


    I would not consider myself a professional photographer by any means, but for the past few years I have worked with as the on site media correspondent for an international philanthropic organization, Hands of Hope. In my experience, good photography necessitates an artistic eye, a steady hand, and a little luck. I have included a link to some of the photos I have taken of our projects in Zambia above. The images are used for publicity and fundraising for ongoing projects.


    Here is a link to a story I helped with this summer while I was interning with the weather department at WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids.

    I was able to tag along while this story was being created, and it was extremely interesting to see the huge amount of effort that goes into making a short, two minute news feature. There was so much thought put into every camera angle and what was in the background of every shot. At one point we got creative, and threw a go-pro both into Lake Michigan and into a storm drain. Capturing pictures and videos that will tell a story is an art that’s difficult to master.

    I didn’t personally appear in this news feature, but I was able to practice my broadcasting skills. It was nerve-wracking to go in front of the camera and try to recite facts and information that I had just learned minutes before, but the biggest take-away I had was that it should be a conversation. I was told that I should look at the camera as if it was my friend and share what I knew about algal blooms with confidence, and that made all the difference.

  4. These are a couple videos from SHEI Magazine photo shoots I worked on last year. I am the fashion editor of SHEI, so I choose and style the models, makeup, clothing, and location. Working on photo shoots can be super stressful but also a ton of fun. They’re a huge group effort, and we usually have between 5 and 15 people at any given shoot. I think advance planning makes all the difference on the day of the shoot, because trying to get so many people moving toward a common goal is hard if everyone has a different vision of how they want it to turn out. We plan shots and come up with inspiration boards so that everything runs smoothly the day of!

  5. I’m yet to create an online portfolio for my images, and didn’t want to re-upload them to Facebook so here are some that I felt were fitting for this class. Try viewing on your Instagram app, fits the size of your phone better.

    1st image…
    This one was from my collection of fisheye images that I took on my iPhone. I felt like this one captured the best themes about a UofMichigan football gameday.The person being photographed is obviously happy (took her a while to feel comfortable because my lens was an inch or less away from her face).Then the warped background of the photo grab some pregame scenes, back of jerseys, people hanging out, dirty ground, rickety staircase and more. If interested in seeing similar images to this one, you can view them here:

    2nd image…
    This is Sam Herring, lead singer of Future Islands ( I captured this photo of him at Pitchfork Music Festival this past summer. It’s all about timing, for concert photography I have noticed that knowing the songs really help. You can expect when the emotion will come and when it’s the right time to be ready to shoot.

    3rd image…
    This was a cool one too. It’s actually in a Arts at Michigan photo contest, if you want to vote for it! Here’s the link 😀 ( The theme was “Light”. Lighting is a huge part of grabbing a good photo! These guys opened up for Chance The Rapper this summer in Chicago. They are his dancers and I caught them when they were emerging from the smoke. I kept on clicking, which is something that you want to do in fast paced environments to ensure that you grab a good photo.

    4th image…
    Color image! I thought this one made out to be a good sports photo. It captured the weather. Stormy summertime in Ann Arbor. For photos that include an array of colors, I usually keep it, maybe add some HDR effect and saturate it just a little bit. I think editing like that is fine, as long as you don’t put anything fake into an image that you want taken seriously.

    To conclude, my goal in all photos that I take of people is to capture a part of their personality that you may not see on an everyday basis. And knowing when to alter the image too is good, none of these were originally taken in Black & White but I think work better with that color scheme. Also, make sure your background isn’t distracting. Make a clear focus point, and if there are things in the background, make sure they’re relevant and appropriately situated. Rule of Thirds is a rule I follow big time too. Like Rachel said, take tons of photos! At least some will turn out nice….


    Attached is my flickr page. I have been a self-taught photographer that picked up photography out a desire to document my life in a more asthetic manner. One thing that picking up the camera has taught me is that we are all capable of taking great photos but like everything else one must work hard and believe in a growth. Listed below are some tips for photography and feel free to contact me with any specific questions about more specific shots.

    1. Take your time, don’t point and shoot. Point, look through the lens, dabble in different frames and then shoot. Look for a frame that is the most intriguing and captures the moment.
    2. Make sure it is focused! If your unexperienced at manual focus, just use autofocus.
    3. Get over the awkward and pull some confidence out. Some of my best shots have been when I decided to be confident especially when photographing someone else. It makes them more comfortable if you are sure of what you want, communicating to them what/where you want them is great, people like directions. It’s your shot so take control and fluff up your esteem.

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