When I started the Hero Shot & Story project, the intention was to piece together a few words to accompany a personal photo that would not normally be taken in a business context. A couple of hundred words, not an essay, just a thought bubble to give added dimension to the photograph. Something nice, interesting at best.
As it progressed, it took a turn into richer, deeper, darker woods. I say darker not because it’s murky or treacherous, but because it’s harder to see at first. It tends to be the material that rarely sees the light of day. For some reason it fascinates me to go there. I can’t look away.
After I’d done about half a dozen or so, I noticed that something the participant, my muse, holds pretty dear, that actually, they really value, was often the very thing that was being skipped over, or taken for granted in some way. A sense of avoidance there, like ‘oh, yes, I do care a lot about that if I really think about it, but who cares to know about that?’. Or, ‘yes, that situation really influenced me to change my direction, now I come to think of it’.
My finding is that to get to this very core ‘thing’, whatever that may be, does not present as a linear, obvious path. It’s not a complete and perfect picture. It is not a well written story with a neat beginning, middle and end, perfectly edited and ready to publish as a blog post. Not at all.
It’s quite the opposite. Where they start is a total unknown to us both. Sometimes they are total strangers. We sit down with some sort of beverage, engage in chitty chat. And then all of a sudden, they say something that at first glance is an interesting comment, but at second glance is a gateway into that deeper place.
It’s like following crumbs, first I see one, then another, and to be given the next crumb I have to follow my intuition to know what to ask for so I can tease that out.
I’ll invariably say, ‘hang on! I think we just started’. And then the typing begins. What also kicks in is a keen listening and waiting. They’ll say something, and then I’ll say ‘tell me more about that’. And then they’ll say something more. We take our time and go at a slower pace than conversation normally takes. Like slowly peeling layers of onion away, one by one, I lead them in.
It’s a completely unknown process every time. I have absolutely no idea what they will tell me. It’s a game in feel. What feels right to ask next? Where’s the feeling in what they are saying? Where does this want to go next?
And then another turn where suddenly it feels like ‘we’ve got it’. We’ve got all the pieces of the puzzle. And they sit back and go, yeah, I never really thought about this before. And I’ll say, what’s the insight you’re getting? And then we’ll have a little piece of gold that can be shared to the reader as a final #lesson.
It feels like art because it unravels right in front of us. It’s magical and a mystery. The mystery continues in the edit later. Everything’s there, but it doesn’t quite make sense because it’s not yet a clear picture. In the conversation we gather the pieces together, then later I spend a few hours putting the puzzle together to form the written piece, the story.
It’s an unknown territory that we embark on together. They reach a destination, knowing a little more than when we sat down at the beginning, about something that really matters to them, more than they ever realised before.
Creator and curator of Humans. In business Hero Shot & Story project.