Visual design is constantly in our faces throughout our lives. It can be anything from movie or show, photographs, art pieces, graphics on a website, and posters just to name a few. Thinking about the visual storytelling aspect goes hand in hand with creating the designs. Artists creates these designs in order to inspire, relate, and connect with the audience that ultimately leads to the artist telling a story through that design. If the design is really well done, it can have numerous stories behind it and each person can see a different story being told within the one design. Below are some examples from movies and show as well as some art photography that tells a story. What story do you see being told?
- Hidden Figures – Night School
If you have seen Hidden Figures, then you know that it’s about three African-American women making and changing history within the NASA space program. For this scene in particular, the story that is brought to the front is a black women ignoring the stereotypes and changing how the world perceives women, especially women of color, by going to night school. During this time women didn’t normally get a higher education, and it was also when they were supposed to be integrated throughout society there was still segregation going on.
The clues supporting this story is shown throughout the scene and not just the fact that there are desks and school supplies. For starters, the looks that the white men are giving her are basically saying “why is she here” and “she’s black and doesn’t belong”. Also, she is the only black woman and woman in the room surrounded by white men. However, the two clues that not only makes the scene more powerful, but also adds to the story is her facial expression and body language as well as the camera angle. Her body language and facial expression tells the audience that she doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her being there and that she is ready to learn and soak up as much knowledge as possible in order to make her life better. Then, the fact the camera is positioned lower to the ground, but angled up directly in front of her shows how powerful she feels and how much confidence she has in that moment. Within the principles of visual storytelling I used the principle of revalency: making it personal as I was anaylizing it and finding the story. With everything going on in the world right now, the story found in this visual relates with it all in a way, especially the emotional connection of it all. The audience can emotionally connect with this visual and with the power and confidence she emulates along with the confidence people have right now to stand up a fight for what’s right.
2. Art Photography – Freedom and Transformation
Freedom can be expressed and found in numerous ways, and is different for everyone. Within this photograph the story that I found to be most prominent is that the girl finally has the courage to be free from what has been holding her down for so long and finally get the freedom she has desired for so long. The butterflies in the photo are like all the things that have been holding her down (the negativity) being released like a weight has been lifted. Her body language is also suggesting relief by being arched like it is. The principle of sensory was mainly used for this photo because of the fact that it’s so different than what we normally see that it’s so captivating that people will stop instantly to anaylize it further.
3. Ocean’s 8 – Just Another Day for Thieves
Ocean’s 8 is all about eight women who are thieves in their own way who team up and steal a necklace that’s worth more than $150 million along with others as well at the Met Gala. At the end of the movie the women are riding the subway after a very successful heist back to their everyday lives. To me this scene tells the story of women that look normal just going about their day, but have a mysterious side to them that you don’t want to mess with. Just by their serious facial expressions you can tell they have a side to them unknown to anyone else that is kept hidden from the public or is only known to certain people. Their clothing also suggests mystery because some of the outfits look expensive, so why would they ride the subway if they have the money for a better ride. The principle authenticity is really shown here because it’s not polished or staged, but instead it’s candid and relatable to the attitudes and expressions that are normally seen on subways.
4. Lucifer – Jealousy
The show Lucifer, involves the devil (Lucifer) taking a vacation from hell in Los Angeles and falling in love with a detective, Chloe (sitting on the right side of the couch all alone), after becoming a civilian consultant for the LAPD. Before this scene came to be, Lucifer’s first love, Eve (in the red dress), came back into the picture and decided to tag along on an investigation when they had to interview potential suspects. However, Chloe and Lucifer liked each other, but things got complicated between them and Chloe still felt jealous of Eve and Lucifer. This all comes across in this still from the show. Some of the clues included the distance between Lucifer and Eve and Chloe on the couch as well as the body language of Lucifer and Chloe. Lucifer’s body was facing away from Chloe while Chloe’s body was closed off and away from Lucifer. As I was analyzing the still from the show I looked at its composition as well as it being relatable to other people who are going through a similar situation. The compostion of the still was that it was on an angle with Lucifer and Eve being closer to the camera and Chloe being further away showing the distance and jealousy between them adding to the story behind this shot.
5. Captain America: Civil War – Power in Conversation
As someone who is obsessed with movies, of course the next still that tells a story would be from another favorite movie of mine, Captain America: Civil War. The film is all about two of the Avengers disagree on how to manage the team and respond to their bosses to the point where the other Avengers have to choose a side (Iron Man or Captain America) and fight each other.
Even though this scene in particular is easy to understand, just Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Steve Rogers (Captain America) just having a conversation. At a first glance this may be so, however if you look at it closer the image tells another story. That story being that Tony and Steve are having a conversation that looks to be important and secretive, with Tony trying to get Steve to understand his side of things and Steve not giving into anything he is trying to say. By having the camera on the outside of the room shows that what’s going on inside the room or on the other side of the glass is important. After all, isn’t there a saying that important conversations happen behind close doors? Also, their outfits, body language, and facial expressions (even if we can’t see much of Steve’s face), adds a lot to the story. Tony is dressed to the nines, so to speak, sitting up straight looking intensely at Steve, showing that he means business. Steve on the other hand, is casually dressed, leaning back and slouching in the chair, looking annoyed and angry at Tony, showing that he isn’t accepting what he has to say and what he says is the only correct response. After all, the image has the authenticity it needs to tell a story since it’s candid and in no way does it look staged or fake.
6. Remember the Titans – Ignoring the Differences
The movie Remember the Titans, was about a high school football team preparing and wanting the championship win during a time when integration has begun which caused tensions to be at an all time high until they learned to put their differences aside to become more of a family rather than just a team. This still from the movie in particular really showed that story of ignoring the color of their skin and the differences between them to come together as a family to achieve their goal. This is shown by the team cheering behind the coaches and the coaches of different races holding the game ball together in joy. I really looked at the composition of the still because it adds to the story behind it all by having the two happy coaches of different race front and center together. I also looked at the two principles of visual storytelling, sensory and relevancy. The sensory principle is shown by the image not being or looking staged but by being candid and is showing a scenario that many people can feel emotionally connected to whether it’s the feeling of winning a game or with the feeling of putting aside differences to come together as one. With the relevancy principle, the whole aspect of treating each other differently based on race is very prevelant in today’s society unforutnately and many people can relate to it in one way or another.
7. Art Photography – Good vs. Evil
This art photograph is telling the story of good versus evil and good winning in the end. Good and evil can be shown in many different ways. In this photo good is represented by the women in the white dress, with the color white representing pureness, light, and obviously good. While the women in the black dress is representing evil, with the color black representing darkness and obviously evil. Whenever we think of good and evil, we think of good being on the top and evil on the bottom and in religious context of evil being hell (underneath/bottom) and good being heaven (up/on top) which is how it’s set up in the photograph. Then, when we picture winning or seeing the winners they are always higher than those who they beat or shown as being on top. In fact that’s how it’s set up in the picture with good on top and evil on the bottom. The principle of sensory is shown in this image because it’s so different than what we normally see that it inflicts some kind of emotional response that is different for everyone. Also, because it’s so different it captivates people causing them to stop and really look at before moving on and getting some kind of feeling from it.
All in all visual storytelling is becoming more and more powerful as the years progress and as movements begin to rise. As long as designers continue to create we will always see some kind of story in the creations. What stories do you see being told?
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- Hicks, Aimee. “Lucifer – Season 4 – Review: The King of Comebacks.” SpoilerTV, 20 May 2019, http://www.spoilertv.com/2019/05/lucifer-season-4-review-king-of.html.
- “Image Gallery for Captain America: Civil War.” FilmAffinity, http://www.filmaffinity.com/us/movieimage.php?imageId=379859580.
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