Let You Tell Me a Story


Let You Tell Me a Story

If you or your company had an important story to share, would you know how to tell it?

We are constantly told that “every individual can make a difference” and we know it’s true — either through your work in a corporate ecosystem or creative industry or beyond, you and all the people around you, have the capacity and opportunity to make someone else’s life better.

But we forget.

We get busy.

We start thinking that “we don’t have time” to make a difference or any of the other excuses we tell ourselves to make our hearts & souls feel better.

But deep down, we know the reality, and every so often we see a photo, or a billboard, or some Super Bowl commercial on facebook HITS us and reminds us that there is a bigger world out there. We see stories.

Storytelling is a way to keep reminding ourselves and those around us what’s important. What is the direction we want the world to go in. What world do we want to live in now, and leave behind for our children.

The stories we share have the power to positively change behaviour.

But what would happen if it wasn’t just the Super Bowl ads we shared with each other, but our own stories? Why doesn’t everyone share stories of their work, their impact, their journey to make the world a better place?

If individuals and companies truly believe they are doing their small bit to make the world a better place, then why doesn’t EVERY corporate leader and professional hone in their skills as a creative storyteller to show it?

Jacqui Hocking Storyhunting in Timor-Leste

The Power of Storytelling

Storytelling is a method of communication that aims to arouse emotional and strong reactions, in an attempt to convey a message and convince an audience. Whether it’s through fictional, authentic or traditional methods — the process of how you tell your story is up to you.

Some organisations such as National Geographic Society, have been ‘inspiring people to care about the planet’ since 1888 through great stories. One of the largest non-profit organisations and #1 brand on Instagram, National Geographic strongly believes in the power of scientific exploration and storytelling :

‘To Illuminate, to Teach and to Change the World.’

Florida Manatee. Credit : Brian Skerry

Thanks to its stories and photos, Nat Geo explorer Enric Sala has inspired leaders from 9 countries to protect their oceans. Brian Skerry too, his photo pictured above, is an award-winning Nat Geo underwater photographer sharing powerful stories to create change.

Brian came to Singapore early this year as part of NatGeo LIVE, and shared how Manatees as a species have been extensively hunted by humans in the past. Everyday many get injured and die from boat collisions. Brian’s photo series showing them in their natural habitats and their injuries have raised the awareness of people in the state of Florida in the United States and have managed to successfully stem the number of deaths per year.

Here is another example of photos taken by Brian Skerry — a series to show the intelligence of dolphins.

Credit: Brian Skerry

But I’m never going to be a National Geographic Photographer… why share my story?

Well, thanks to new technology, we’ve all got the opportunity & tools to become great storytellers. With smartphones & social media, we’re able to capture highlights of our lives and take our audience on our life journey with ease.

Not everyone can become a National Geographic explorer, but we are all capable of creating positive movements. If we just knew how to start! That was the inspiration for our team to run a free photography workshop to give people the empowerment to get started.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens

We invited everyone to one of Singapore’s recently crowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Singapore Botanic Gardens, to a restaurant called Food For Thought — a social enterprise that’s about transforming community spaces & bringing people together to enjoy “Good Food for a Good Cause.”

More than 30 guests attended coming from various backgrounds: corporates, non-profit organisations & entrepreneurs. None of them were professional photographers but all know that storytelling was a skill they needed going into the future .

Some came with expensive technology (such as the Sony A7s or Canon 5D markIII) while others came with their iPhones. Indeed, we did not want the workshop to be technical, but we wanted to show how people how they could become great storytellers with simple devices. Especially when we live in an era where documentary filmmakers can chose to shoot their films with their iPhones!

Laurel Chor, an inspiring young National Geographic explorer, came as a special guest, and shared her hints and tips about photography as well as her background, work and projects.

Growing up in Hong-Kong, one of the most populated cities, she never thought she never thought she could have access to nature. But after some outdoor exploration, she realised how her city was fascinating and diverse in terms of fauna and flora. She then got a Nat Geo grant to start an initiative called ‘Hong Kong Explorers Initiative’ in order to encourage people to explore more the city.

After one of her photography trips in Africa, she also became ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute Hong Kong — a non profit organisation dedicated to wildlife research, education and conservation.

Credit photo: Laurel Chor

Next up was our Creative Director, Jacqui Hocking, who delivered the workshop from technical skill to storytelling perspectives.

For instance, she first explained the basic technical settings each photographer should care about when it comes to “light & exposure” but then shared more about the importance of story:

“Authenticity & empowerment wins over Poverty Porn any day!”

When it comes to photography in a developing area, she encourages us to keep our minds open. Perhaps there is a quality & way of life more valuable in a seemingly impoverished town than we will never know? She mentioned a beautiful project called ‘So I Asked Him To Smile’ that shows us the power perspective has on the audience.

Jacqui delivering the photography workshop in front of our guests at the Botanic Garden

After the workshop, everyone was asked to go out to take some pictures in the garden.. and EXPLORE!

There is truly only one way to learn — and that way, is to DO! So for the last segment, we asked the participants to spend 1hr taking some photographs. We would come and assist them if they had any questions. The enthusiasm was that high that people greatly extended their stay in nature!

Some photos taken by our participants during our outdoor session

Outdoor photography session with our participants

Storytelling is about sharing — so finally, our participants all came back inside in order to share their photos individually to talk about what they took, posting their photos on social media using the tag: #sgexplorers to share with the group.

Credit photo: Corentin Billiet, Manager Trusted Family

Credit photo: Dorothy Ng, Community Manager Forum for the Future

At the end of the day, it’s about #Inspiration.

By organising storytelling workshops, we hope to encourage people around the world and also in Singapore to spread strong environmental and social messages. We hope to encourage them to take ownership of their own cities in order to care about the planet. Perhaps even plant a few seeds for the next generation of National Geographic Society storytellers.

The objective is to create a call for action. Let’s spread content that will positively influence people to EXPLORE & care more.

It’s always very surprising to see how Singapore overflows with beautiful outdoor activities — such as Botanic Garden; Mac Ritchie Reservoir Park;Sentosa island and many others — but very few people in Singapore explore them.

Therefore and for those living or even just visiting Singapore, we ask you to get out there and explore — and share your story to influence others!!

Share it through your own social media tags, or use the one we did like#sgexplorers to connect with like-minded people. Feel free to drop us a note if you’re interested to find out about the next workshop, or if you’d like to share your experience!

So that next time, I hope that YOU can tell me a story.

Article written by Paula Miquelis — Project Manager Gone Adventurin’.

Ashwin Subramaniam
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