Looking out onto a protected swath of Amazon rainforest from Brazil’s Kendjam Mountain, I asked Bepeketi, my Kayapó guide, to define sustainability. Bepeketi couldn’t, because the Kayapó don’t have a word for this term. They've never needed one; they don’t know what it means to not live sustainably.
I use visual storytelling to begin a dialogue like the one I had with Bepeketi. If one of my images can act as a conversation starter, then it’s done its job. If a series of my images or films serve to advance a conservation agenda, they have a greater purpose, beyond the frame.
Increasingly, photographers and filmmakers want to use visual storytelling to propel their own projects and causes forward. In my upcoming workshop, I'll demonstrate how to do just that.
At People, Planet, and Protected Spaces: A Visual Storytelling Workshop, we’ll do a deep dive into how visual storytelling can be used as a tool to share a message I believe is of the utmost importance: that we’re not separate from nature. We’ll talk about pre-visualizing a story before you even set foot in the field, and we’ll dissect the ingredients that make a story compelling. Visual storytelling uses a series of photos to tell a narrative about a place, character, or cause that people can connect with in a way that leads to action. And we need more storytellers to tell these stories. My workshop aims to address that.
I’ll also discuss tricks and tips to help you create a one-of-a-kind image, and together we’ll think about how best to get your work in front of the appropriate audiences.
Whether you’re an entry-level photographer or an avid Instagrammer, a committed enthusiast or a professional communicator, this visual storytelling workshop experience is designed to help you tell more effective stories with your imagery, but perhaps more significantly, it’s intended to spur community dialogue. I hope to see you there.
More about Neil Ever Osborne, workshop lead:
From swimming with grizzly bears in the Pacific Northwest, to dropping a $6 million robotic submersible down onto the Gulf of St. Lawrence seafloor, to chatting with Inuit in the Canadian Arctic wind at -50℃, Neil Ever Osborne is constantly pushing the limits of his craft to create visually impactful conservation campaigns that express the important link between people and planet.
Along the way, he's experienced misadventures, happy accidents, and moments of profound connection — with elders in Ecuador’s fragile rainforests, cod-kissing fishermen on the East coast of Canada, a farmer who lives with penguins in his backyard. In their voices, Osborne reflects, “We understand a little bit more about how this crazy world works, and how inherently connected we are to the living planet.”
Osborne’s work is deeply rooted in a documentary approach that bears witness to humanity’s ecological footprint. All the while, he uses visual storytelling to start a dialogue around an idea he believes is of the utmost importance to the future of planet Earth: we’re not separate from nature, but very much a part of it.