Getting Creative With Your Storytelling When the World Is on Pause

This is the perfect time to find a new outlet for whatever your imaginations come up with

different comic book panels that show people doing things like holding a giant megaphone and looking at their cellphone
People are still in need of storytelling and creativity, even during a pandemic. Getty Images

The world we know looks different, so it follows that the way we visualize our new realities must also shift. There’s an incredible opportunity for creative contributors to capture the elements of life today on behalf of businesses and brands around the globe, big and small.

Even though it may feel like everything has been put on pause, we know that the need to share stories hasn’t. In fact, it may be more important than ever. But before you take up creative arms, here are a few things to consider.

First off, let me say this: You and your talent are valued, and to whatever extent it feels right, know you’re encouraged you to express yourself creatively. But please do so safely. Don’t jeopardize your own health or the health of your loved ones for the sake of the content you’re creating. If you’re creating COVID-19 specific content, arm yourself with facts and pay attention to the details.

Now that we’ve covered safety, here’s my chief ask: Embrace your creativity.

Creativity may, in fact, be the best tool we collectively have in our toolbox to help us grapple with these uncertain times. It’s what often powers our problem solving and enables us to pivot or reframe.

Even though it may feel like everything has been put on pause, we know that the need to share stories hasn’t.

Mind over matter

Limited resources can be viewed as constraints or, as many of our photographers have already demonstrated, they can fuel creativity. You don’t need human subjects to capture human moments. Ordinary objects can demonstrate concepts like togetherness, connection, family, security, relaxation and peace of mind. In fact, our own recent customer research revealed that many brands desire and struggle to find realistic non-people imagery that conveys these concepts. Consider how you can visualize small and simple stories in our daily lives through domestic still life. How can you communicate stories about the lives that exist around those items, even if their owners aren’t there? How can you show love and togetherness through objects or cuisine?

Do your best to stay inspired by tapping into your surroundings, even if they only stretch as far as your front door. Spend time capturing the reality of daily life, including those nearest to you. But rather than trying to create the perfect lighting or leverage the latest camera tech, consider this the perfect opportunity to pare down and capture authentic vignettes of life during the COVID-19 era, the little yet important stories.

Embrace your unique setup

Many of us are in overdrive, nesting and looking after our homes during this period of isolation. This looks different for each household. How is this depicted in yours? This means working from home and homeschooling, but also basic household chores and activities like meal prep and laundry.

Young people of all ages are accessing education at home, from toddlers crafting to teenagers studying for virtual exams. But what does this look like in your world? It’s video conferencing with classmates and teachers but it’s also learning without technology, working alongside siblings and getting support from adults.

Create your own space

As our access to the outdoors is limited, utilize whatever outdoor space to which you have access. Look for opportunities to shoot the same spaces from a variety of vantage points and consider how you can capture the increasingly rare and poignant moments when we can connect with nature through gardening, exercising ourselves and our pets or simply relaxing outside. What is your own connection with nature, which likely feels even more important now that it’s restricted?

Consider future changes

This is also a time to think about the future and anticipate what will need to be visualized. Not surprisingly terms like “coronavirus,” “COVID-19” and “pandemic” are dominating our search right now. But terms like “social distancing” and “self-isolation” are also trending and are likely to endure even as lockdowns are lifted. These have only recently joined our vernacular and therefore don’t have a clear visual approach yet, which begs the question of how you can visualize them in creative and original ways.

One particular change of today is likely to endure: The reality of us working from home more consistently. The many challenges of remote life are perhaps some of the biggest social stories to result from the current crisis, and as such, the way we visualize them must necessarily evolve, from working at home with family around to working at different times of the day (and night) to working in kitchens, bedrooms and on sofas to almost certainly working without business attire.

Use this time to challenge yourself and your approach and style. This is a rare opportunity to try something new or learn a new skill. You’re more than likely already out of your comfort zone, so embrace that in terms of your style, too.


Paul Foster is the senior director of creative content for iStock by Getty Images.
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