All of a sudden I was wandering the streets of Hong Kong, trying to keep up with my cousin who knew the city all too well. She’d lived there for three years and wanted to show me the best the city had to offer.
We walked fast. Too fast.
I turned the corner and the color red consumed me.
The floor fell out from under me and it began to move. I felt like I was in a dream, being taken into another dimension. A ghost appeared, arriving too soon to lead the way. When I get there, I will have to choose my own path.
I realize in this moment of waiting, I am already seeing the best the city has to offer. The rush of wandering has stopped my mind for a moment of clarity, but it has not stopped my experience. It was these city walls and the people that seemed to move through them that made this city so great.
I realized, the color red consumed me everywhere in this city, not just now in this tunnel. I’d never seen it so much in one place before.
In fashion, faces, architecture, design, it even showed up in food more than normal.
Adding Meaning To Our Stories
Red was layering the city, with its energy of strength, power, and passion, and intense, emotional energy. In a city so ancient and rich in culture, yet so young in tradition, this is a symbol to the powerful harmony that exists amongst the chaos in a country so divided. I didn’t understand this before immersing myself within these city walls.
Before this color red consumed me, I only saw a foreign place. I wasn’t aware of all real truths pouring out of this city. I wasn’t aware until the color red continued to take me over, pumping my blood, filling me with energy, my mind unconscious to the changes happening within my body.
When did it hit me? When did I become conscious to the real story I was capturing. Right here, when we turned this corner. All of a sudden, I was completely aware of this intense feeling, and I had to capture it.
How Does A Visual Story Emerge?
When we pick up a camera, often we don’t even realize or take time to think about the exact “thing” we witnessed that made us want to grab a shot. There are certain aspects of experiences that simply stop you in your tracks. Our level of awareness changes and often we aren’t conscious of it. We simply let it take us over. Like a dog who’s found a scent trail.
This happens quite often when we experience a change in light and a change in color. We might not realize it because our minds and our eyes automatically interpret these qualities of life for us, subconsciously. But light and color are two aspects of life that make everything else possible, they make us feel, and feelings are what make us attach stories and meaning to life.
Feelings and emotions add depth to our experiences and color can do the same thing in visual storytelling. These qualities show us what to focus on, they help us attach emotion and feelings to our stories and they give us a sense of belonging to our space in this world.
Photography has a beautiful way of showing us how to understand this. When we capture light and color in unusual ways, we can being to see all aspects of life differently.
Take travel for instance. When traveling, that “thing” that makes us want to pick up a camera can seem quite obvious at first. We shoot because we are experiencing something new and we want to hold on to that new experience. Traveling gives us this heightened sense of awareness that nothing else in this world can give us. When we travel, we immediately become more aware because we are in a new space. Our comfort level goes out the window and we become more aware of ourselves, tiny, inside this world around us.
When we travel with less specific plans and more room for spontaneous adventures or simply wandering around, we can be even more in tune with how and why we are inspired to capture a moment.
What makes is this so important? It gives us a broader perspective of EVERYTHING. Every sight, sound, smell, taste, movement, everything. It brings us into a new dimension. It gives you a chance to see things you didn’t see before. It gives you magical opportunities to capture a more powerful visual story.
The Power Of Light And Color
Light and color are incredibly powerful and we can not live without them. Neither can photography. They two aspects of visual storytelling that truly connect a viewer to a story. We can use the power of light and color in visual storytelling to captivate a viewer because color and light are instant triggers to our feelings and emotions. When we see the light and how color affects us, we can reflect that in the moments we capture.
We can emphasize what we what the view to focus on and how we want to make them feel by using the colors and light around us and understanding how they make us feel.
The rest of my story in Hong Kong will unfold as the images below begin to trigger feelings and emotions in you and me.
For now I am happy to be reminded that the most important first step in creating a great visual story is awareness. Light and color help us become more aware. When we follow light and become aware of color and how it makes us feel, we can begin to see life through a new lens.
Photo Tip: The next time you pick up the camera, pay attention to feeling that arises in the moment that excites you. Pay attention to the light and the color. Ask yourself, how do I feel right now?