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Visual Storytelling 101

Lesson 7 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

Visual Storytelling 101

Lesson 7 from: Adventure Photography Pro

Alex Strohl

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Lesson Info

7. Visual Storytelling 101

This episode sets about to give adventure photographers stronger foundations to visual storytelling so they can elevate the way they tell stories.


Class Trailer



Workshop Intro






Gear - My Camera Bags


Mastering Camera Settings


Blue Hour, A How-To


Photos That Move Us


Visual Storytelling 101


Endurance In A World Of Sprinting


Keeping Your Ideas Fresh


Building Your Story Arc


Shooting More: Action Plan


Conveying Emotions


In the Field


The Assignment: Himalaya Pre-Pro


In the Field: The Himalaya Defender Shoot


The Assignment: Canon Pre-Pro


In the Field: Canon USA Shoot




Keywords & Organizing Images


Commercial Grading


Masking & Radial Filters


Perspective Correction


HDR (Hand-Held)


Black & White Edits


Before & Afters


Moody Grading


IG Export Settings


Web Export Settings


Clone Stamping & Patch Tools


Grading in Lightroom


Hand-Held Panoramas


Radial Filters Pt 2


Delivering Files to Clients


Archiving & Organizing Images


My Favorite Software




Let's Talk Business


Building A Desirable Portfolio


How to Contact Clients


Prospecting: Finding Brands That Fit You


Getting Clients To See Our Value


Paid to Travel the World


The Art of Making Moodboards & Treatments


Keys To A Fulfilling Career


Three Things You Need To Know Before Pitching


Finding Your Value Proposition


Media Kit: A Walk Through


How I Built My Audience


Social Media Landscape


Module Recap


Bonus - Everything To Know About Filters


Do You Need Lens Filters?


Filters in The Field


Bonus - Find Your Path


Find Your Path


Bonus - How To Print Your Work


Why Print or Sell Photos


Preparing Photos for Print


Reviewing Major U.S Printers


Lesson Info

Visual Storytelling 101

According to the British science museum, humans have been able to talk for about a hundred thousand years. So when we invented speech, we invented one of the most powerful ways to pass on knowledge and stories. Stories rule the world. Since the beginning of the days, we've been acquiring knowledge through stories. And this is a fundamental part of the human experience. Since then, we've developed other forms of storytelling like drawing, painting, music, theater, filmmaking and photography. You know, it's having access to a camera to share your view of the world is an immense privilege that wasn't even imaginable to most people, even a hundred years ago. Photography to me is one of the most powerful ways of storytelling. We've all heard the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, that's true. You can affect what the connected world thinks about something with just one picture nowadays. Just think about that. (camera shutter clicks) (camera shutter clicks) (camera shutter ...

clicks) (camera shutter clicks) (camera shutter clicks) (camera shutter clicks) So how do I tell stories with photos? Before I start any film or photo set, I have these sheet. It's like a series of reminders. This is it. Number one, challenge assumptions. Number two, have unique perspective. Number three, tell a story. And number four, maybe the most important one is I ask myself, what do I want... What do I want my audience to feel? And number five, what aspects of being a human do I touch on in this piece, in this film or in these photos? Let's start with the fundamental rules of storytelling. It's a vast topic and let's start with the foundations. Stories follow structures, right? You've heard of it. Beginning, middle, and an end. That's how Shakespeare wrote. Stories are about transformation. And to use Hollywood screenwriter Blake Schneider's metaphor. It's like your audience is getting into a train with you, right? And they're not going back. There's like, they start here, and they end there, and there's no way back. From when they start to where they end, There's a transformation. Something's changed profoundly. Stories need characters. So who's our main character? You gotta pick that. Stories illicit emotions. Like again, what do we want the audience to feel? And what is that feel? You gotta define that. Stories have a target audience. That's more of a marketing thing, but who is the target of your story? You gotta define it. Like who is this piece of content you're making this film or these photos? Who is it for? And then stories have a goal. You gotta define it. What does this story do? Right? You know who it's for? And then what does it do? Does it leave people inspired? Or sad or...? Just define that. Now that we've gone through the rules, the most important power is just to get started. So just start pining ideas down on a notebook or an Evernote. Go shoot these ideas, refine them, and then come back to the rules. The first stories you put are not gonna be all time, but you gotta keep going because repetition really matters when it comes to any scale. So how do I come up with my stories? I'm gonna walk you through the techniques I've developed to come up with stories that I feel passionate about. Because my goal is always to come up with ideas that are so important to me that I cannot not make them happen. They're so important. And obviously that's the goal most of the time but you don't always get there and that's fine. But as at least start with this goal of like, this is something so important, I have to make it happen. Okay. Number one, reading novels and biographies. I read a lot of them. And I've learned a lot about story structures and the way that ideas are put forth through novels, and specifically biographies as well. You know, when you're asleep or you're doing some exercise or some task, you've just finished this novel and then your mind is digesting these ideas you've had. And when you least expect it, it's like, boom. This idea comes back. Right? So that's why I always cultivate the idea of reading because it doesn't seem like I'm learning a ton about how to do something, but it's more of a subconscious process. So I encourage you to keep reading these novels, biographies because when your mind's asleep, it's processing it. And then it's gonna come back to you. Magazines. This one is a bit more tactical. But whenever we do workshops here, like in person workshops, I always leave a stack of my favorite magazines on a table. And when we have breaks, students start to browse them. And I often see them taking, you know, photos of their phone of like a certain spread about a place they're like, oh man, I've never seen this place. Or I never heard about this story. Like, I see them taking notes, and that there's like a direct way to come up with ideas like that. Just by seeing other ideas, and so sourcing quality information. My sources of quality information are these magazines, my favorite ones. So Sidetrack Magazine, less others, French magazine Adventure Journal, Power Magazine, National Geographic of course. Just every day on my afternoon coffee break, I just open one of them randomly and spend 15 minutes just looking at things. And I always find myself like, you know, Googling some things or adding places to my Google maps list or to my research sheets. Because it's just a... It's like a direct injection of information that I, to me is really important. So pick magazines for the things you like. For example, for me, I'm really into stories about human power adventures. You know, when people go somewhere with a goal and it doesn't have to be this huge, crazy goal. Like, we're not trying to change the world all the time. But just going somewhere and getting there by themselves with their bodies. I think that's fascinating. And magazines like Side Track, for example, fuel that fire. Just try to subscribe to a few magazines for the next year. Maybe pick three or four, you know, spend 50, $60 on them. I guarantee you, you'll be just much more inspired. Number two, be honest. And that's really important because I think our generation has become so distrusting of all the things. Advertising, you know, the news, politicians. We are in a stage where we're not sure who's saying the truth, right? And because the climate, this climate of not trusting people is so widespread, we generally default to this person is not being honest with me, right? When we're facing with this decision, we generally have this negative bias like this person is lying. So the biggest thing you can do for your audience is to be honest and tell the truth because they'll value you so much more. Never lose that from sight because wonderful bond, that trust that connects you to the audience is completely lost. Just be yourself. It's just so much easier. Number three, put story over scale. Some of you might not agree with this, but let me make my point. Camera scales, for example, they can be acquired over a few hundred hours of shooting. And especially if you couple it with like technical workshops online. It's not rocket science. It just takes knowing the rules and practice. The other industry is becoming so saturated nowadays, that it's becoming harder to stand out, right? So I wanna encourage you to hone your voice because somebody can replace you at editing or shooting, but nobody can replace you at your ideas, at coming up with what you think is interesting. So please invest in that voice. Because... You know, the stories you tell will become your legacy. It's not the camera you use or the edit you have. It's just your ideas and why you shoot these ideas. That's all that matters.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

A Note From Alex

Ratings and Reviews


Not What I Was Expecting Let me just start by saying that the workshop was very good. There were lots of things that I learned and many insights I took away. Perhaps the greatest bit of wisdom imparted to me was not anything Alex said but how he approached every subject he talked about. I felt that he was talking to me as a friend, very personal and open book. This was both a blessing and a curse as the course tends to meander around and is not as structured as others I've taken. Alex's passion for the highest quality, and craftsmanship in every aspect of his business, is very evident. From the premiums he charges, to the attention to detail in client deliveries. This is where my review is going to give some hopefully constructive criticisms. For someone so focused on a premium experience I was a surprised to find the course a bit sloppily assembled, and the videography and editing lackluster. This is coming from a videographer and someone with a lot of experience in online training. A few short examples to illustrate my point include: repeating segments of the edit (in some instances the exact same segment), poor framing. Colors changing between cuts, and my biggest pet peeve, not leaving photo examples on for long enough to see them. These are all small things, but they add up, and along with the topics meandering, left me a bit disappointed. I'm curious who you would say this class is aimed towards. Amateurs, mid-level, or experts? The assumption of who you are addressing changes throughout the course. I feel like with a bit of work from an instructional designer, and some editing cleanup, you could help hone this course to be one of the best out there. I feel like I need to do a more in depth review than will fit here, to actually explain this well. Let me know if that would be helpful to you. One other note: When I signed up for a workshop on Adventure Photography, I honestly thought it would be more field focused. The field examples were all shoots for products, and not shoots documenting an adventure. I guess I had just hoped to learn that side of the storytelling process more. Getting into the nitty gritty of being wet, cold, and dirty, and still shooting bangers. The section on filters (going out and building the snow cave) was more what I thought this course was going to be. Anyhow, with all that said, I still found it valuable and worthwhile. To summarize, the course feels a bit unpolished and in some ways unfinished though there is still great value. I've taken Jimmy Chin's Masterclass on adventure photography and it felt very structured and highly polished. I purchased "Adventure Pro" on the "finish in a month" discount. I would have felt ripped off if I had paid full price with the course in its current state. Thanks for reading and I hope my criticisms come as helpful. As I've already mentioned I'd be happy to further elaborate.

Topher Hammond

One of the best photography investments I'm only 1/4 of the way through Alex's course and I feel like I already have a loose plan on how I can move forward in my own career as a photographer. I felt like my work was lacking a specific feeling. The way that Alex articulated ideas on how to convey emotion in your imagery and building that overarching story arc for your own life narrative were super helpful to focus on how to make my work better. Super looking forward to the rest of this course. Thanks Alex and team!

Sergi Mas de xaxars Rosell

Great Workshop I learned quite a lot with this workshop. Because I'm in the industry for 5 years now, there were a few things I already knew. On the other hand, Alex showed me different and more effective ways to improve my business. I like the way he gives the lessons, always in a personal and close way. This is the knowledge I wish I had when I started. Totally worth it!

Student Work