© Joerg Colberg

Joerg Colberg on Conscientious: How to tell a story with pictures

The start:

If I wanted to tell a story with pictures, just with pictures, how would I go about that? I could probably give you one photograph (see above) and tell you that’s my story………


The middle (well somewhere between the start and the end to be less precise):

…………If a beginning and an end are absent, telling the story will be much different than having one where there is a beginning and an end. In the latter case, the main problem is to figure out how to get from the former to the latter. There are lots of possibilities here as well, with some cases more obvious than others. A strictly temporal or spatial evolution often is fairly simple to organize: You “move” from point 1 in time to point 2, or from point A in space (some location) to point B (some other location).

Storytelling involves taking the reader or viewer by the hand and to lead her or him through the story. It’s important to realize that when somebody decides to become a reader or viewer, they are giving you something: They are willing to have you tell them where to go, what to do, at least to some extent. This is why the beginning is so important. A viewer1 brings the willingness to enter a world, but whatever that world might be its rules have to be consistent. The rules might not make perfect sense compared with the viewer’s normal world, but if they are consistent (and if the viewer is willing to follow you down the road) the story can unfold…………

The end (not quite):

 ……Some stories can be told more easily than others. But even the simplest stories can be told in ways that diminish what could be had. As a matter of fact, the seemingly simplest stories are usually hardest to tell……

(to be continued)

1 For reasons of simplicity, I’m just going to use “viewer” from now on since ultimately, I’m interested in visual storytelling.




John MacPherson was born and lives in the Scottish Highlands. He trained as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards, before completing an apprenticeship as a carpenter, and then qualified as a Social Worker in Disability Services. Along the way he has cooked on canal barges, trained as an Alpine Ski Leader & worked as an Instructor for Skiers with disabilities, been a canoe instructor, and tutor of night classes in carpentry, stained glass design and manufacture, and archery. He has travelled extensively on various continents, undertaking solo trips by bicycle, or motorcycle. He has had narrow escapes from an ambush by terrorists, been hit by lightning, caught in an erupting volcano, trapped in a mobile home by a tornado, kidnapped by a dog's hairdresser, rammed by a basking shark and was once bitten by a wild otter. He has combined all this with professional photography, which he has practised for over 35 years. He teaches photography and acts as a photography guide & tutor in the UK and abroad. His biggest challenge is keeping his 27 year old Land Rover 110 on the road. He loves telling and hearing stories.

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