Since the production of still and moving images has become child's play, the belief that quality is a matter of taste has become even stronger. And as long as personal taste can legitimize just about anything perceptual, it will be difficult to eradicate this fatal fallacy.
A buzzword often has the task of filling old wine into new bottles or to draw more attention to slow sellers with more attractive labels. Well, this also applies to visual storytelling – at least when it comes to the laws of perceptual psychology. Because those who have already internalized it will continue to achieve a high hit rate in their assessments, even though it can hardly justify intuitively made judgments without an analytical tool. But if there is such a tool at hand, it is possible to explain internally and externally well which quality features good photos, drawings, graphics and moving images must have.
Since the foundation for successful visual storytelling starts with accepting beliefs, let’s take a look at the most important ones:
- Perception happens behind the scenes and is the result of complex processes that are usually not accessible to the conscious mind, because even the amount of data from a single image is so large that evolution has automated its processing.
- How the human brain transforms stimuli from the outside world into conscious sensory experiences follows established rules, because obeying timeless and global rules saves energy and is a competitive advantage.
- Unconsciously, we also bring acquired knowledge into the process of perception because knowledge-based processing accelerates the categorization of objects.
- A picture is good if the viewer understands it quickly, when it arouses interest and is compatible with previous worlds of experience, because ethical moral evaluations take place later and on a different level.
Tips for practical implementation
With high-quality photos and videos proven to have a big impact, it pays off to increase the budget for visual content. Even on social media platforms, it has been proven that the qualitatively better picture always wins.
When choosing photographers, filmmakers, graphic designers and agencies, it is perfectly fine for visual story producers to analyze their own work. If this is done via a non-communicating system and the visual codes are not included, then no order should be placed.
Anything missing from an image that we expect to be there also tells a story. It just has to match what we see. Storytelling is also the art of omission. How do I make the viewer an accomplice to my strategy? What missing pieces of the puzzle can I leave to the viewer’s imagination?
Even the frame of an image influences its perception and interpretation. Therefore, it is worth paying attention to a suitable framing, as it can influence the direction of individual associations or the interest of the target audience.
Keep in mind that any revival of personal taste will endanger the visual storytelling project, as one of evolution's recipes for success is "change only when necessary". However, doing without monitoring altogether is not advisable.
The integration of tracking codes is not a panacea, but it can legitimize the use of the selected checklist or lead to meaningful improvements. Read Werner T. Fuchs current book Crashkurs Storytelling for more insights.
By Daniela La Marca