Photography and Storytelling: When a Thousand Words Isn’t Enough

  • Categories:

    Creative, Photography, Work

  • Date:

    May 3, 2019

Photography and Storytelling: When a Thousand Words Isn’t Enough

Creative Photography Work

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if a thousand words isn’t enough?

That’s the case for Palmetto Bluff, a planned community, resort and nature preserve deep in the heart of the South Carolina Lowcountry. To say it’s difficult to convey the magic of the Bluff without physically taking people there is an understatement. But that’s what our Creative team set out to do as we developed new photography and video for this extraordinary setting.

More than showcasing the beauty of the landscape or the luxury of the resort and village, we wanted to convey a true sense of place and the personal connection people have with that place. That meant capturing and channeling our own experience of the Bluff into a moving story for an audience who has never been there. 

At Palmetto Bluff, you can live, stay or play in the midst of 20,000 acres of preserved Lowcountry land. Picture it now: you pass through the front gates onto a 5-mile stretch lined by gas lamps — the only human touch in otherwise unencumbered nature. This drive alone causes more than a few to fall in love at first sight.

A lot of Lowcountry advertising includes sweeping landscape photos that are beautiful but relatively nondescript. Yes, they’re inviting, but they could be from anywhere in this region.

Here’s the thing: if everyone is saying the same thing, you have to change the conversation. So, rather than simply build a library of gorgeous visual assets featuring salt marshes, tidal creeks, forest walks and village streets, we sought to create a treasure trove of photo and video assets that truly showcased the uniqueness of THIS place and the people who love it. 

Do you want to tell a rich, layered story through photography? These four elements helped us plan and execute a shoot that sets the Palmetto Bluff experience apart:

1. Define the audience psychographic. Just as with depicting the landscape, we knew generic representations of life at Palmetto Bluff would never do: no typical shots of hammocks, golf or tables covered with elegant white linens would entice our highly particular audience. We started by surveying the residential community to see what really makes them tick, what they’re excited about and what draws them to this land. They’re not boating on any pontoon, but a 1957 Hinckley classic yacht. They’re not taking haphazard smartphone photos, but intentionally framed photos on real cameras. They’re not just enjoying dinner on the patio, but traditional Lowcountry oyster roasts paired with exceptional wines. With these insights, we sought to infuse our visuals with authentic details our audience would appreciate.

2. Define a mood. Again and again as we considered how to convey what makes Palmetto Bluff special, we returned to the intersection of rugged and refined. Dinner is outside, but it’s served on solid wood platters alongside a fine bourbon in a vintage glass. The colors are deep and rich, whether cast in bright daylight or moody twilight. From the finest details to wide shots against natural backdrops, our photography digs into this vibe.    

3. Capture scenarios instead of shots. Capturing a moment is entirely different from staging a shot. To portray the authentic essence of Palmetto Bluff, we shot actual events and activities — a fishing excursion, a sunset dinner party, a photography hike, a relaxing walk — and captured the shots organically as the moments unfolded. 

4. Come at it from all angles. Over our weeklong shoot, it was essential to maximize the skill sets of Wray Ward’s team and get the most out of every moment. While one photographer captured a tight shot, another shot wide. We shot still photos and motion, on a level plane and above from our drone. As a result, we not only came away with hundreds of options that will satisfy Palmetto Bluff’s marketing needs for a long time, but with imagery that will work cohesively across all media. For instance, an image clicked on in a banner ad will lead seamlessly to a video of the same scene on the Palmetto Bluff website, allowing a story to beautifully unfold.

By getting to know our audience intimately, creating a mood that defines Palmetto Bluff, capturing authentic images and crafting a bank of imagery that plays together across channels, we’ve made sure our assets bring the Bluff vividly to life. And there’s no better way to bring prospective residents to this extraordinary place.

What are some other examples of creative assignments with challenging subjects? How did you pull them off? Let us know on Twitter @wrayward by using the hashtag #makepictures.

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