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Episode #122

Which of these 4 Categories of Photos Are You Focused On Making?


UPDATED: May 26, 2023
ORIGINALLY AIRED ON December 9, 2022


What category of images are you primarily creating, and is that in alignment with the photographer you aspire to be?


Four categories of photos on the journey to visual storytelling

In conservation photography, our big aim is to make really compelling images that ALSO create awareness, understanding, and action around environmental issues.

This means we need to think deeply about the types of images we're focused on creating.

There are four main categories of images.

Each category grows in impact as you add in storytelling elements, whether that's the composition and moments captured in individual photos, or building portfolios of images to create full visual stories.

In this episode, I review each of the 4 categories, and where you can focus energy depending on your aspirations and goals in conservation visual storytelling.


Episode 122: Which of these 4 Categories of Photos Are You Focused On Making?

Shownotes: ConservationVisuals.com/122

(Digitally transcribed, please forgive any typos)

Jaymi Heimbuch:
[00:00:00] Hey there, and welcome to today's quick tip episode. So what category of images are you really working on creating, and is that in alignment with who you wanna be or how you envision yourself as an impactful conservation visual story? That's what I really wanna dig into in this episode. There are four categories of images that I typically see nature photographers working toward creating, and depending on which category of images you're zeroed in on, that may be helping you toward being a conservation visual storyteller.

[00:00:37] Or it might be slightly out of alignment with that. And so I wanna dig into what these four categories of images are, and you can decide if they're helping you meet your goal, or maybe you want to focus on a different category. So the first category of images are.

[00:00:53] Bird on a stick. Images. So these are images that don't have a whole lot of [00:01:00] storytelling to them, and they work well as just standalone one off images. These tend to be the beautiful portraits of wildlife or the beautiful landscapes that are maybe a print that you would wanna hang on a wall, but beyond.

[00:01:15] They're not moving the needle in much of a way. There's not a whole lot of story or purpose behind them. They're really pretty to look at, but they pretty much just stay there. This category is really about kind of getting likes, likes on social media.

[00:01:29] They are the heart emojis for whatever platform you might be sharing them on. They might get comments or they might get that attention. They might sell some prints, but beyond that, not a whole lot happens with these image. The next category are the prize winners. So this is when you start to build more storytelling, more impact into your images.

[00:01:53] They're still standalone images, but they have a higher level of that storytelling element that we [00:02:00] really love as humans. So these are the ones that show interesting behaviors or surprising moments or have some level of complexity to them that draws us in. So beyond being a beautiful portrait, they draw us to maybe ask a few more questions or be more interested.

[00:02:18] These are the ones that typically win the prize at Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Big Picture. These other big competitions, they're the images that earn the claps. They're the prize winner. A third category of images are the conversation starters, so this is where you start to move a little bit past the standalone single shots and into collections of images that are maybe more toward photo essays or there's a theme around them that as you show a couple or a few of these images that have a theme to them, people are curious.

[00:02:54] They start conversations with the audience that you put them in front of. These are the photos that earn [00:03:00] clicks. So, so far we've covered the bird on a stick photos, those single standalone shots that are beautiful to look at. They earn the likes. That's about as far as they go. Then we have the prize winners. These are those standalone shots that have a bit more of that story, that kind of compelling. That draws us in and they earn the collapse.

[00:03:23] And then we have the conversation starters. These are the collections of a few images, some portfolios that are maybe leaning more toward being photo essays. They really draw people in and start conversations through what the images together are starting to talk about.

[00:03:40] They earn the clicks. People wanna click to find out more about what's going on with these images. Now the fourth category of images are the change makers. These are the types of images that really impactful conservation visual storytellers focus in on. You take the best [00:04:00] of those prize winners, those images that have storytelling elements that draw us in, that make us curious, that give us that wow factor, and they are placed in a group of images, a portfolio of images that builds conversation.

[00:04:15] These storytelling images are working together as a portfolio to build a conversation, to draw people in, to get them active and curious and engaged in asking questions. And when you have that, that magical combo, that is when you create action and impact with your images.

[00:04:35] Now there is no wrong category of imagery to be working in, and we all work in different categories based on where we are in our journey as photographers. Every single one of us starts out with creating bird on a stick shots. We just wanna get those beautiful tax sharp shots that we can share with friends and family.

[00:04:55] From there, though, you typically are working towards something more, [00:05:00] and as an impactful conservation visual storyteller. Ultimate goal really is to work toward those change makers. So today I would love for you to think about what category of images are you creating right now, and which category would you like to move toward?

[00:05:19] Again, there's no wrong place to be inside of this, and there's no wrong answer for where to move toward. We all go in steps and phases and have different goals and desires, but if you're someone who really wants to make an impact with your images, if you are drawn to the idea, Your images are more than pretty pictures hanging on a wall that they actually have an impact.

[00:05:42] They cause people to have an aha moment. They cause behavior change. They have an impact for species and places that you care about. Then I really encourage you to think about how is it that you would like to move toward those changemaker photos? [00:06:00] Those storytelling images that work together as a cohesive unit to tell the story of something, to build the conversation, to draw in a community around something, because the visual impact of them together is so significant and if that's where you wanna go, then I encourage you to check out the show notes of this episode, because I'm gonna go ahead and link to some episodes from this podcast that I think can directly help you in that journey. Episodes that have some specific information and action items in them that can help you move the needle on moving from one.

[00:06:35] Quadrant to the next. So be sure and check out the show notes to this episode to find those other episodes that you can then download and listen to whenever it fits into your schedule. No matter what. I would love for you to take a little bit of time today to think about these categories of images that we tend to shoot in. Think about where you are, what category are you really focused on right now, and is [00:07:00] that in alignment with where you wanna be as a photographer in the near future or the distant future? Is the category of images that you tend to focus on right now working for you with where you wanna go with your photography. It is awesome if it isn't.

[00:07:18] Consider where you wanna head next and then head into the show notes. Grab those episodes, listen to a few, see if you can decide where you might want to make a shift and move toward another category of images that builds your skill sets and gets you moving to where you wanna be as a conservation photographer.

[00:07:37] Conservation visual storyteller. Okay, I hope that this was a helpful quick tip episode and I will talk to you again next.


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