STORYTELLING is a CRAFT...you have to have a PASSION for capturing, telling, and sharing stories. This blog is dedicated to that craft. What is your story? We are listening.

I was up late reading and stumbled across this article about a photoessay by Photographer Nancy Borowick sharing her story…both of her parents fighting cancer. No…this is not a story of one of her parents fighting cancer and the other standing along side as a support system. BOTH of her parents have cancer and BOTH are fighting cancer simultaneously.

Here photo essay…wow!!! You should check it out! –> CLICK HERE

As I lay here…I am speaking to myself. We can write great copy, create beautiful ads, strategize great campaigns…but these images are powerful…more powerful than what *we* can create by *trying* to tell someone else’s story.

How about finding the way to create a “platform” that gives those the latitude to express freely…openly…like this daughter…Nancy Borowick.

Thinking a bit…will be pondering this more…stories of texture create deep connectivity.

*Image from Nancy Borowick’s website.

Many wonder if storytelling is alive and well during primetime television especially with news organizations. I have been a huge fan of 60 minutes for years. One of the main reasons…their ability to tell a wonderful story combining so many story-lines into one final piece.

This story was not only shot well, written well, produced well…but it crosses so many cultural divides bringing something so tangible to our hearts.

Can you pick out the tremendous moments only revealed through the interview process…then carefully delivered at the right moment? I have watched this story numerous times not on Sunday evenings during 60 Minutes but also online.

The producers were able to break down language barriers, capture lots of moments, and weave this story together in a fashion that makes you forget…that is is close to 14 minutes long.

One of my favorites…”Joy in the Congo”!

So my friend Dr. V has tackled a question I  think many of us are trying to figure out: What is content?

He shares his thoughts (original blog post):

“Content is retrievable information that can be consumed. It’s stuff that can be heard, seen, shared, curated and commented upon.

Content is a human creation, something translated from the realm of the mind into some tangible form. This could be an idea shaped into a piece of writing or a scene uniquely captured as an image or video. The subjective process of translation is how the view of the mind’s eye becomes content.

Content is important because it positions us in an information world. It’s our real estate on the information landscape. Increasingly, our content defines us.”

So here is what I think is Good Content:

Creates the connected theater – how can we create an interactive experience so audience forgets they are watching and listening…yet feeling.

Creates a connected voice – how can we identify with each other…speak the same language.

Provides texture – we see/hear it, we understand the mission and it is repeatable/shareable message, making the hairs on the back of our necks stand-up.

The shift has happened and a brave new world is opening for the way I capture and tell stories. For years, I have been trying to find a new way that combines my love for digital images and motion into one platform for digital photojournalism.

I have always tried to purchase cameras that match the workflow where I was trained; ENG or electronic news gathering. The equipment I always purchased matched the tools in the television news realm of ENG. Remember, I used to be a television new photojournalist. Television news cameras, audio, and lighting workflows was one of efficiency regardless of the situation.

The cameras had to be versatile, able to deal with all the elements of capturing images including weather, and also effective under expeditious deadlines. The last camera I was using while in television news was a Sony HDCAM camera along with a Sony BetaCam SX camera. Both cameras were rugged, captured great images, and had quick workflows.

As I transitioned into my personal business life, I purchase cameras that matched similar workflows. The last camera I purchased before my newest set-up was a Sony HVR-Z7U. I have always used a Sony camera for video dating back to 1991 using Sony BVV-5 BetaCam SP with a Fujinon Lens. But, I always carried a Canon EOS camera for still photography. Also…the Z7U captured to tape and Compact Flash simultaneously for a back-up.

I AM OFFICIALLY GIVING UP VIDEO TAPE! YAY! 

You may be thinking…you should have done that a few years ago. But all ENG television news photojournalists are trained to ALWAYS have a back-up. The Z7U provided a back-up just incase the Compact Flash had a corrupt file. It has happened to me twice.

But now the technology is so much better along with advanced media from SD cards and Compact Flash cards. An now it is time to get with the program.

The Big Switch
Now…I have combined my passion for great storytelling, great production, great image acquisition, and a great workflow into one set-up. I am now using a two-camera set-up leveraging three interchangeable lenses between both cameras (Canon EOS C100 and 5D mkiii).

Canon EOS C100 – Great video camera with great sensor that provides versatile workflow for documentary style photojournalism. This camera is video first with ENG style technology to support the workflow I am accustomed to leveraging. With two XLR audio inputs with adjustable inputs, ND filter wheel, zebras, and ergonomics that fit the photojournalist on the go.

Canon EOS 5D mkiii – Great HDLSR that puts digital photography first forcing seasoned photojournalists to think about each image, each shot. I now think more about lighting and depth of field inside the context of each image. Now I also think about f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, and composition for each shot. But with the integration of seamless video recording that matches the C100 workflow and has impacted how I use the C100.

Lenses:
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
- Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

For years I was carrying two cameras for two separate functions. One camera meant for capturing images and the other camera to capture video and sound. Now both cameras have interchangeable purposes and allow me to capture stories as they happen from all angles.

This package allows me to focus not only on the quality of the story but also the quality of the image acquisition. This is lots of fun!

*Here is a great blog post by Dave Wallace, why he sold his Red Scarlet for a Canon EOS C100.  

In 2012 I was struck, hit upside the head, and right in the chest with the news of a friend who had been murdered. I had worked along side her to help create an event called Ecoplosion. She worked for Clemson University in the Master of Real Estate Development Program and was a crucial part of putting together a big economic development event in Greenville, SC. Her name is Marge Putnam.

I was struck in the head and in the chest. It knocked the breathe out of me to learn that this beautiful woman, mother, grandmother, community leader was killed by her husband who then killed himself.

I was struck in the head to learn the statistics. South Carolina ranks as the #1 state in the nation for women killed by men; 1 in 5 female college students are sexually assaulted; 1 in 4 women are the victims of domestic violence; and over 50% of middle and high-school girls experience sexual harassment in school.

WHY? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

Historically, the movement to end violence against women has been led by women. Why are men not a part of the solution? We are a part of the problem yet not willing to step-up and become an active voice, and active part of this advocacy to tackle the problem of domestic violence.

It starts with men teaching men. We see a beautiful woman walking sidewalk, and we give them the “up and down” look. We hear a sexist remark in the locker room or a joke that is degrading towards women at the water cooler, and we laugh rather than challenging it. We notice a buddy acting controlling towards his wife or girlfriend, and we say nothing. We teach our sons to “man- up” and “be a man” rather than showing their true emotions. We grow up with this “man code” engrained in our ethic, and our sons learn this from their fathers.

Why are we doing this? We are real men with real hearts and we can create a movement to stop this cycle. We are business men, faith leaders, coaches, teachers, real men with the wherewithal to stand up and say no more!

Today, advocates are now working to engage men as allies in the effort to promote a healthy view of masculinity and to work towards ending all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls.

April 24th – A Call To Men
On Thursday, April 24, we are calling all men to attend a community breakfast at ANMED Women’s & Children’s Hospital in the Peggy Dean Room from 8:00am-9:30am entitled, “A Call To Men: Equipping Men to End Violence Against Women and Girls.”

Keynote speaker, Tony Porter, co-director of a national organization called A CALL TO MEN, will discuss how men can be engaged in the movement to end violence against women.

Tony is recognized nationally and internationally for his expertise in organizing and educating men in the effort to create a healthier understanding of masculinity and to equip men as allies in the movement to end violence against women. He is dedicated to strengthening community accountability to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls.

Will Merritt of WCCP 104.9 radio will also be there to share his thoughts. Join Us! This is a FREE event for all men of Anderson. Join us, bring a friend and help us fill the Peggy Dean Room room at ANMED Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

Reserve your seat today!  Registration is open now at www.acalltomenanderson.com.

In today’s high stakes game of business and fundraising, this blog post from the Wharton Business School was completely inspiring and revealing.

I want to spend a few minutes sharing a few key points that truly resonated with me. Most importantly, this article Wharton blog post reinforces the notion that leadership not only must support digital initiatives as business strategy, but they must be deeply a part of the conversation.

The most important paragraph:

“Business model risk is today’s biggest strategic risk, and companies without boards that are digitally savvy could find themselves starved of investor capital, according to this opinion piece written by Deloitte & Touche partners William J. Ribaudo and Henry Ristuccia; Barry Libert, CEO of OpenMatters, and his associate Megan Beck Fenley.”

So here are a few more interesting points to consider:

“The digital revolution is particularly amazing when you consider its rapidity and pervasiveness.
1) Fewer than 10% of S&P 500 companies have integrated digital into their business model.
2)  Only nine companies in the S&P 500 are “highly digital.”
3) The United States faces a gap of 1.5 million leaders who are savvy enough to take advantage of big data.”

“The most effective organizations are adapting their business models to serve today’s empowered and digitally connected customers — and investors are rewarding their efforts.”

“This initial assessment may reveal a critical gap in the board’s knowledge and experience with regard to digital strategies and disruption. If so, we believe there are three ways to fill the gap: educate, seek advice or recruit:
1) Educate the board (or individual board members) about digital technologies and digital disruption.
2) Seek advice from an advisory board or outside experts.
3) Consider recruiting a director with digital expertise.”

***The information in this post came from Wharton’s School of Business Blog 

It has surrounded me…from the very beginning, I have always had a camera in my hand. The picture above is the first picture I ever captured…how ironic it is my first selfie.

Yes, it is a picture of me the summer after the 6th grade. I was attending the Summer Classes of SC Governor School for the Arts. One thing we learned…how to build a camera out of a small box of Quaker Oats. Yes, I built the camera that took this picture using a Quaker Oats box…a simple pin-hole camera.

We also learned how to develop the negative, create a positive, then mount the image for display. It all started in the 6th grade and all the thanks goes to my 6th grade art teacher Mrs. Posten. She wrote the recommendation for me to spend my summer at the Governors School for the Arts.

Here I am…still using cameras to tell stories!  Damn I am having a good time!

Everyone wants to be a thought leader…every organization wants own their content verticals…but what are you really owning.

Why are “we” trying to own the content verticals that the populous hopes to conquer. Thought leaders, whether individuals or brands, want to be heard, want to connect, want people to join the conversation. But why try to own that popular conversation?

Why not attack unwanted, uncharted, distressed content verticals that no one has tackled?

I think about Warren Buffett’s business philosophy…he takes “un-wanted” verticals and leverages this opportunity by investing thought leadership and capital.

Why not use enterprise level analytics tools to ask research questions:

1) What content vertices match our initiatives?
2) Where is the conversation?
3) If the popular conversation has aggregated to one content conversation; what other content vertices are left to consider?

Why not tackle content vertical that is uncharted and become the thought leader in this space? Take ownership of the conversation that has yet to emerge, invest resources, and scale that conversation.

Then, as you take ownership of this content vertical *and* as you scale the community engagement, why not leverage that opportunity with marketing initiatives.

Bottom-line –> We have the opportunity to build our own perception, our own conversation, our own communities!

Love this quote from Gary V:

“I am only interested in one thing…the thing that binds us all together…always and forever our job is to tell our story…”

“The way you make real money…the way you make real impact…the way things get changed is by great storytelling…it has always been that way and it will always be that way…because i do not know if you guys heard and we are f&cking human beings and that is what we like.”

I AGREE…AMEN…

In that same thought…love this from the Brains on Fire blog post from 2009

“The fanstastic thing is that there are fundamental principals of being a human that will never change. One of which is that we are social beings. And we crave interaction. More so face-to-face than online. I really believe that is something that will never change. Because the technology might advance, but us being humans won’t.”

ONCE AGAIN…AMEN…

Telling great stories are like pealing back an onion…one layer at a time. A great story is one that connects those layers bringing texture to the experience…raising the hairs on the back of your neck.

How can we help you find great stories? Let us know!

Anyone have any thoughts? Hmm…so I have been thinking about this for a bit! What is the DNA of a “good” storyteller?

Hmm…well my first thought: they create great content. Yeah…so what is great content and how can we equate great content with a great storyteller?

In the world of digital communications…how do we create content that is sticky and feels connected.

I read a great little blog post by Holly Potter and it has me thinking just a bit…here is an excerpt:

“More and more we’re hearing that “content is king,” “content is the new social currency,” and “content is the center of communications.” What is content? To us, it’s a great story, a memorable message or a shared experience. We want to help craft these stories in an authentic and compelling way, and we want to share them with the world. The only difference with telling brand stories today versus five or even two years ago is that these stories can now be multidimensional­ with, images, videos, animation, infographics and editorial. Change in the media medium is inevitable and attention spans may be depleting, but the value of good storytelling stays the same.”

We can write for SEO, we can create beautiful graphics, we can do all the things that make budgets look good…

BUT…inspiring people to write and share passionately is HARD. So here is the question…how do we inspire people to tell their story and what does that look like, feel like, sound like?

Here is my response to Holly:

To tell great stories, create great content, empower a great community, can we then begin leveraging that community in this “marketing” arena? This is what brings “value” to the storytelling initiative in the digital space…the great blend between storytelling and marketing. The fun part is finding/balancing the ethical tension between community building and marketing.

So who are the really good storytellers in this digital arena? Those who know how to create great content, yet market that content to generate a marketable result?

*BTW…I “stole” the image above from Holly’s blog and altered it a bit. :)

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