AD/PR → This is a brand collaboration. While I have been compensated my opinions are mine and always true to my experience. ♥ Bee
Visual Storytelling and Pixar
While my Instagram may not show it anyone who knows me in real life will tell you how obsessed I am with Pixar and Disney. Perhaps it’s the fact my mum use to work there, or maybe the fact that when I was growing up and getting impatient or questioning a creative career my mum would pull quotes from Ed Catmull out of her head to motivate me.
She constantly had her head buried in Creativity Inc and still goes around saying Bizz Lightyear is the perfect man.
Her favourite quite was and still is:
“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.” Ed Catmull
The book and the man that wrote it think very differently about ideas and the world of creativity believing that failure Is necessary, that you are not your idea and that you should share things before they are perfect.
I often think the reason we keep going when it gets tough, fail lots, try new things lots and are constantly looking for the next thing is party due to our obsession with Pixar.
It’s so funny how many people ask us to share our creative process and how we get to a final idea and while we share what we can we often laugh that people would think we were crazy if they saw the full process. It’s messy, we often look and feel crazy, fight often, disagree even more and even yesterday she was shouting at me ‘you need to look more broken’.
Yes we are and always have been very odd.
I think when people think of creativity they are often looking for a process and while we do help people with this, creativity is often messy and not pretty at all, let along a process to make sense of.
“Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way.” Ed Catmull
However I think what we would all agree with is that when it comes to telling stories not many do it as well as Pixar. And when it comes to visual storytelling Pixar help us all the time.
So how does Pixar help us create great storytelling pictures.
Pixar’s 6 Rules on Storytelling
Great stories are universal.
A great narrative picture or visual story is universal too meaning it appeals to most people.
Often what we will do here is get an overarching theme for our picture. We just ask ourselves what is this a story about? We then have one word or three words. For example it might be this is a story about loss. This is a story about lunging, about childhood, you get it .
Having a theme for your picture means It will appeal to more people.
Great stories have a clear structure and purpose.
And so does a great visual story. It is clear in it’s purpose and while you might not be able to put it into words you can see it.
Often we scrap a picture because it is trying to say too much or doesn’t say enough.
Having clarity before you create a picture can really help you add more of a storytelling element.
Great stories have a character to root for.
Ok so this one might not apply to all visual stories but it does mine. Since in each photo we know the story we are trying to convey I always feel like I am playing a character. I don’t feel like Bronte I am the character in that story.
To get into character I will often use another Pixar cheat using their story structure.
This structure goes:
Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
Here you briefly decide what the story is so you can create the picture.
This helps with defining the character and deciding on poses etc.:
This is also why I love and always will love taking pictures involving books or TV shows because this is already done for you.
Great stories appeal to our deepest emotions.
I’m shouting this one louder for those at the back. A great visual story in some way taps into an emotion. For me those emotions tend to be deep internal emotions. As an introvert these poses tend to suit me better. For some these emotions will be joy, A great picture has a great emotion.
Great stories are surprising and unexpected.
Great visual stories are too. There is something about them that stops you in your tracks. And it stops you because in some way it resonates with you.
Great stories are simple and focused.
Out of all my pictures the more simple and focused ones always do better. There is a beauty in simplicity in our complex lives I feel we often seek for something clear and focused. This is something we don’t always get right and we are trying with the less is more principle but it isn’t always easy.
As I say in everything around visual storytelling I don’t always get it right I fail much more than I succeed. And in true Pixar form failing is part of the process.
Visual storytelling while not always easy at its essence is simple and I would encourage everyone to give it a go.