The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice: Episode 8: Storytelling

Welcome to the final episode of “The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice”: Storytelling

Wow! Today’s the final episode of our 8-Part series about artistic voice in Photography. We’ve been all about turning what might seem like an ephemeral concept – into practical application. My fondest hope is that it’s the beginning of a great conversation – one that’ll last a lifetime!

For once, I’m not going to preamble… I’m just going to say… tell the GOOD story. The best one you can. And remember that your images and words exist in resonance – and can affect everything around them for the better. If you so choose.

Series Recap

Hey, it’s Karen Hutton. And welcome back to The Everyday Genius of Your Artistic Voice. And today is Part 8, the final episode: Storytelling.

For this series, we’ve covered alot of territory. We talked about what we mean (for the sake of THIS conversation, anyway by artistic voice, some thoughts on the inner game – and how to prepare yourself to step out to photograph, being as present and focused as possible. We explored the importance of asking yourself “Why?” and maintaining a “kindergarten mind”. Then we had a chat about how choosing the right cameras and lenses for YOUR vision can help you more easily create emotion in your art. And art is, after all – a means of conveying emotion and feeling. It’s a language!

Lauri Novak and I shared our personal thoughts and tips about how your artistic voice can be an incredible guide for moving into the professional photographer space with your soul intact, should that be something you’re interested in exploring. Then… post-processing. I shared 3 photos and their accompanying thought process and the tools I used to create them. Hopefully that got your imagination going!

Now… we’re going to wrap up this 8-part series with the topic of Storytelling.
Photography is, after all – a means of storytelling. Sharing yourself, your life, your point of view, your dreams. It’s the story of you.

As with each of the areas we’ve explored, I’m considering the notion of Storytelling from a particular perspective, since everyone has their own take on this one.

3 Kinds Of Stories

So. story. Certainly, there’s a visual component. I mean, we ARE talking about a visual arts in this series. But you see, in the broader sense, storytelling also means Words. See I passionately believe that words have power. They can heal, they can wound – and they ALWAYS evoke. We should all choose them – and your story – as powerfully and wisely as you can. Here’s why:

Story, Image and Words all tie right into your signature. And if you recall, by Signature, I mean your stance, your point of view, your own “spark of divine fire”. Story, image and words are three of the most powerful tools used in storytelling.

Now. The way I see it, there are 3 kinds of stories:

  1. Stories that give
  2. Stories that take
  3. Stories that report just the facts, ma’am.

What the heck do I mean by that? Well…

Boats on a Peachy Morning

Stores that give

The stories our ancestors passed down about how to live, how to farm, how to care for one another, how to know truth from lies – are all stories that give, because they’re trying to make life better or easier somehow. Stories of inspiration, told to give the listener new ideas about what’s possible are another kind of giving story. They build the listener/viewer up. Over the ages, great stories that last are the ones that impart some wisdom, some truth, some kind of inspired idea. Something that is meant to elevate others. Stories of how I overcame something – and so can you.

Great stories impart some wisdom, some truth, some kind of inspired idea. And those are the ones that tend to last over time. Stories that give are meant to elevate others. They’re stories of how I overcame something and so can you. These are stories that give because they are told to empower others; to give something to raise them up.

These are stories that give, because they are told to empower others.

Stories that take

Well, examples of these often start on the inside. For instance, stories you tell yourself about how stupid you are, how uninspired you are, what a crappy photographer you are, or how fat, how ugly, how dumb that thing was that you said – and how you can never get it right. You can never have a great relationship. You never make enough money you certainly can’t take a day off; those kinds of stories. You know them, because they tear you down in some way and you feel worse after hearing them.

Examples of these would start with the stories you tell yourself about how stupid you are. How fat, how ugly, how dumb that thing was you said. How you can never get it right, have a great relationship, take a day off, make enough money. They tear you down in some way… you feel worse after hearing them.

These can also be stories that are told out in the world either by you or other people to dramatize bad or difficult things for the purpose – whether this is conscious or unconscious – of gaining supporters or validation for a “less-than” point of view. You know that saying misery loves company? Yeah. That’s based on stories that take. And I’m not judging here. But what stories that take really speak volumes about is how dimly the speaker, the storyteller, views themselves and life and the possibilities contained therein.

When someone tells you stories like this, it can feel like they’re ensnaring you, sliming you. You might suddenly feel tired, a little depressed… and just not as good as you did before hearing said story.

These kinds of stories disempower you, because they’re all based upon a perspective of powerlessness – and they make you feel lousy.

One of my best teachers and mentors in the personal development field had a very simple and powerful thing to say about these kinds of stories. She said: “If you it makes you feel bad, it’s a lie.” Pure and simple. It’s taken me YEARS of personal discovery and personal work… but I’ve finally learned she was right.

Stories that give are based on a certain universal understanding that we are all sourced from love, light and beauty.
Stories that take are based upon a warped sense that life will fail us every time.

Stories that report the facts 

These are more like reports, devoid of emotion. And there is a place in the world for them! Like… the DMV accident report, the home inspection, an obituary. They all tell a story… but with only facts. And like I say, there is definitely a place for these kinds of stories… but art probably isn’t one of them.

Stories that give and stories that take contain emotion. Emotion moves. Emotion conveys. People connect through a resonance of feeling. Personally, I like aiming to feel good… but the point is, there aren’t many neutural stories that stand the test of time, unless it’s in someone’s file folder.

“Signature” involves Feeling

When someone asks me “What is your signature”… the first thing that crosses my mind is that Signature and feeling go together, because Signature contains a point of view, is like a ray of who you are, is your own spark of divine fire.
So signature is emotional. And it contains a point of view.

To illustrate this, to make it a little bit easier to think about – in the transcription for this episode, I’ve added a video that I made back in 2012 for a project I called “LIL Galleries”. LIL stood for Life is Light, which is one of my personal signatures. If I were to say what my tagline is overall that would be it. This video tells my story. The one that informs my every day, regardless of the challenges. It’s represents my basic believe, my basic signature that overlays everything.

Because you see, I believe that Light Prevails.

The Impact of YOUR Story

So you see, when I talk to you about storytelling, I’m asking you to consider what kinds of stories you’re telling yourself, the people and the world around you. These stories – and their images and words carry forth your signature. They have impact. They have power. They affect everyone who sees and hears them, whether you OR them realize it or not. You are that powerful.

Your artistic voice is way more than your photographic style. It’s your signature, your mark, your resonance. It contains your feeling, your thoughts, your perspective on yourself and life, it contains your “Why?”.

You can’t help any of this. It’s simply how we are hardwired.
What I’m asking you to consider, though, is to become more conscious of this powerful construct of yours – and to find ways to use it intentionally. Hopefully, to create more light and beauty in the world, because god knows we need that.

But to be a voice of something greater. Your own spark of divine fire and exponential creative energy it contains.
Becoming conscious… focused… knowing – and acting upon – what you love… carefully speaking from the highest truth you can. To empower yourself – and others.

That is the gift we need right now.
The one that only YOU can offer.
And that right there, is your most artistic voice.

Summing up

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series! I hope it has sparked your imagination and inspired you to go out and try things you never have before – and to speak clearly in your own voice.

I don’t want much. Just that. 😀

Anyway, thank you for being a part of all this. As always, I love your comments! Let me know your thoughts, your ideas, your real life stories, questions, any topics you want to explore.  I read them all! I try to comment on them all as well.

Until next time, get out there and photograph with your heart, your soul and your entire artistic voice!

See ya! Bye!


Just catching up? Here are ALL of the episodes in this series:

Episode 1: Introduction
Episode 2: Preparation
Episode 3: Appearance
Episode 4: Cameras & Gear
Episode 5: Art & Business
Episode 6: Art & Business
Episode 7: Post-Processing
Episode 8: Storytelling

Extra: Q&A


Got ideas, comments, requests? Lemme hear them in the comments below!

As always… thanks for listening (and watching!)