Be a Story

March 10th, 2010 by

Be a Story

Conversations with Taylor Davidson resulted in the earlier post ‘be a hub‘. I promised that the conversation would continue. Now close to the eve of Taylor’s two appearances at SXSW-Photoshelter’s Austin Photo Seminar about “Creating Context for your Content”  and the  SXSW Core Conversation “Everyone is a professional photographer”, another powerful message from Davidson about the stories we tell and the ones that we live-as writers, photographers and communicators.

How can photographers move their story-telling skills into a broader context?  And why is this important?  Taylor responds, “Telling good stories is a necessity for photographers. But creating a story creates much richer interactions.  It’s these broader interactions that are the biggest artistic and business opportunities today because the economics of creating context have changed (i.e. cheaper to connect, create communities, empower niches), making rich experiences and interactions more available, possible, and powerful than ever before.”  As Taylor’s friend, Michael Bonifer, co-Founder of GameChangers posted, “Story is more powerful as a verb than as a noun”.

Taylor uses Jeremy Cowart’s Help-Portrait project  as an example of a photographer creating and being part of a story.  Cowart’s project, altruistic in concept, has nevertheless put him in contact with many, many people. Each connection creates the possibility of a secondary story by connecting with others who want to be part of the story. This creates a shared experience that spreads organically, touching many people. Connections create interest and trust…two essentials to success.

Here is my favorite story about a story that a photographer and an architect created. Photographer Gregory Holm and architect Mathew Radune envisioned Ice House Detroit to illustrate the frozen Detroit housing market.  After securing funding from, they  encased one of the thousands of Detroit’s abandoned houses in ice. The resulting story was told in outlets as diverse as Dwell , Village Voice, BBC, NPR, New York Times, German Public Televison, Time and the Huffington Post. People all over the world connected to the story. Taylor points out that this type of collaboration not only helps solve a problem, build trust and gain name recognition, but it helps create business opportunities.

Taylor helped me sum up his overall message: Being a story is alive and three dimensional… it brings a story teller into a story rather than the common voyeuristic position of recording and seeing it, one step removed from the story by the lens of a camera. The work connects interactions between people and ideas that in turn connect the work to the story (my words).

The Ice House Detroit project was funded via Kickstarter.