“I’d really like to get into the visual storytelling medium, but have no experience. Only moxie. Any advice?” @Jared_84
My friend Jared tweeted this question to me the other day. I promised him a blog post for a response and have spent all week trying to come up with a post that will be useful for him, but also for others who desire to dive into the world of visual storytelling. So here are 5 tips for those who want to get better.
1. Don’t stress about the equipment.
It’s easy to feel inadequate about your abilities when you see creators with their RED cameras and 5D’s along with their $15k worth of glass. The truth is, these are just tools. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that statement or have had someone tell me that, but it’s honestly true. Take a look at Apple’s latest marketing commercials. They are all shot with i-devices. Not DSLRs, and not $100k equipment, but a $200 iPhone 5s. Equipment can take you to new levels, but for beginners it’s best to remember to use what you’ve got to tell the story you want to tell. Learning to do this will make you a better storyteller when you have access to those fancy tools.
2. Invest time to read and stalk.
I spend at least an hour every day reading blogs and books, watching videos, and stalking people that inspire me. Honestly, there has been many times where I have wondered why I went to college, because I have learned so much on my own. There are a few sites that I have found extremely useful in my journey: CreativeLive, Skillshare, Lynda, and Treehouse. They all offer free trials or free content as well as paid content. But there are also many blogs that I consistently follow such as: Fstoppers, NoFilmSchool, ChaseJarvis, and JasmineStarBlog. Every day, I try to take away something new – and a lot of times it’s just something small, like something that changes my workflow slightly but it also completely changes my life.
3. Accept criticism but keep moving.
This is something that is still very difficult for me. Sometimes, it’s hard to put everything you have into a project and be very proud of it, only to receive harsh criticism. It’s important to keep moving. Criticism will only make you better. Sure, there are haters, that will always criticize you no matter how good you are; in fact, I think it gets worse the better you get. But do listen. It will make you better, you will learn new things, and you will tell a better story.
4. Google is your best friend.
I’m still terrified every time that I meet with a client that I won’t know how to solve their problem. Will I be creative enough to create a design their brand needs? Will I be able to figure out a way to tell their story creatively but maintain authenticity? Luckily, I’ve learned that I’m not an expert in all fields and have created a team that can solve problems, but that’s pretty normal in this industry. Before I had a team to turn to, I would Google everything. I remember when I first got my DSLR and I was exploring the video function. I had no idea what frame rate meant and how it could be used later in editing. I Googled it and found a video that explained all of it to me. Don’t be afraid to not know the answer; it’s literally a click away.
5. Be active.
I never thought I would write that statement. In the last 5 months I’ve been working out consistently 3-4 days a week. How does this relate to storytelling? No one tells you about the hours you’ll spend behind a computer, editing, researching, learning, and organizing. It’s very easy during these hours to not actually be creative and to just go through the motions. Leaving your workstation and going for a run or going to the gym clears your mind and opens it for new ideas and thoughts.