Visual Storytelling is simply the art of conveying a narrative primarily through images - photos, illustrations and video. Whilst we will incorporate writing into each of our weekly projects, the main impact of what we create will be visual.

This week I am going to ask you to produce a visual storytelling project that tells us something about you. And by doing so we will learn and practice some basic principals of photography.


Capture 4 images that tell us something about you, your family, your home and your work.

Think about what each of these 4 words means to you. 

Below are some visual references and some thoughts about them - this should help you think of some ideas for your series of images. You can ask people to help you - especially when you are appearing in the photograph - but make sure you are taking full responsibility for the way each image is created. The one main rule this week is: do not do the first thing that comes into your head - do not take a simple selfie, or line your family members up and click! Think first, be creative and experiment. There is no way you can get this wrong - just relax and enjoy the creative process.


If your smartphone or digital camera also allows you to film video clips, I would also like to ask you do the following:

Once you have taken a photograph that you are happy with, I would like you to film the exact same scene for 10 seconds - to create a living and breathing version of the same image. So, if possible, you will also have 4 x 10-second clips for the theme of you, your family, your home and your work.

>> Please only take video in 'Landscape/Horizontal' mode NOT 'Portrait/Vertical' mode and please make sure each of your video clips is not longer than 10 seconds as you will need to keep the files at a reasonable size to upload them



Here is a portrait of a man sitting by a window. The light coming through the window illuminates his face beautifully. The darkness around the man draws my eye towards him. The man is sat in a relaxed manner, he is looking out of the window at something we can not see, this creates a little mystery - what is he thinking about? 

The point I am making here is that this simple image makes me think about many different things. This is part of what makes a great photograph. So when you are taking a picture that represents you - ask yourself - What might it say about me? 


This is a picture I took of a married couple in Uttarakhand. The woman is fixing some fabric around her husband's prosthetic legs. What does this image say about family?

To me, this image is about love, commitment, sacrifice, trust - one image can tell you many things about the people or elements pictured in the frame. 

What will your image on the subject of family say to people who don't know anything about you?  

This image is a creative example of saying something about home - it tells us that the person lives in an urban area, it might be saying that there is a sense of claustrophobia [surrounded on all sides by four walls], the birds in the sky/ in the distance might suggest that the person dreams of getting away, or desires more natural surroundings. Someone else might see something completely different in this image - but a good photograph will give someone the opportunity to make their own interpretations. Make sure your photograph on the subject of home has elements to it that will make people think.

This is an image I took of a lady working at one of Goonj's processing centers. I like that the focus is on the fabric and the lady's hands. This image was taken from a low-angle, a low-angle is often used to convey strength and power - in this case, the cloth is presented from a perspective that gives it strength and power. The way the lady's hands grip the cloth symbolizes how important the cloth is to her - and, when presented in the context of Goonj, on their website for example - this image will illustrate the relationship between people and cloth - that they are connected, a concept at the heart of the Goonj community.

When you are taking a picture that tells us something about the work you do - what will that image say?




Chase the natural light! We will talk about lighting in more depth in future weeks but for now, start thinking about lighting - if you are taking pictures inside use the light coming through windows and doors to illuminate the focal point [the most important part] of your photograph. When inside and outside - think about the way your environment looks at different times of the day - the light in the morning, afternoon and evening are all very different. In photography, the golden hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the Sun is higher in the sky. The period of time shortly before sunrise and shortly after sunset is called the "magic hour". This soft light can bring a dose of magic to your images.



We will explore composition in much greater depth in the coming weeks but for week 1 a great place to start is with the classic photography technique of the 'Rule of Thirds'. The 'Rule of Thirds' is a good starting point to produce images that are more appealing to our eyes. Imagine your image divided into nine segments [as in the image above] if you place the subject of your image along one of these vertical or horizontal lines - it will create a more compelling image than if you simply place the focus of your image in the center of your frame. So when you take your pictures try composing your image with this in mind. 



Wonderful things will happen when you allow yourself to experiment and find your own ways of being creative.  Trying out new ways of telling stories is the only way that you will discover your own style. At this early stage, you should have an open mind and try many different creative approaches. I will be giving feedback each week and together we will discover new and exciting ways to tell the story of Goonj and the people who make up its community.  


Once you have experimented with the subjects of you, your family, your home and your work choose your strongest image for each of those 4 subjects, then I would like you to write 2-3 sentences to go along with each image. Your words shouldn't be describing what we can already see in the image, they should say something that adds to the story. 


Please change the file name of each of your images to feature your name and the title of each image.

For example, if I was taking part in this weeks project I would label my files:





Please then type your 4 captions + your contact info [your full name, what kind of role you play at Goonj, where in India you are based and your email address] into a text file that is labeled with your name and the week number of the project [i.e. alan_compton_week1.doc] You can download an example of this text file here: download text file

Once you have all your files ready please upload your content here:

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