Know your audience

Look carefully at these first two photographs. What is similar and what is different?

[NIKON D5, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8, ISO 7200, ƒ/7.1, 1/250]

They are the same church on the same day. The difference is the church has two types of worship services.

8:45 a.m. Contemporary Service 8:45 a.m. Dunwoody United Methodist Church [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 2000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]

The very first photo is from the 8:45 a.m. Contemporary Worship Service and the second is from the 11:05 a.m. Traditional Worship Service. They went to great lengths to make transforming of their large sanctuary from a traditional church to a contemporary space. They have fabric that covers all the walls to keep the Rock Style band music from bouncing around too much in the space to allowing the traditional Choir to reverberate during the traditional service.

11:05 a.m. Traditional Service Dunwoody United Methodist Church [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]

The senior pastor speaks at both services.

Senior Pastor Dan Brown, Contemporary Service Dunwoody United Methodist Church [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 5600, ƒ/5.6, 1/100]

There is a little difference in the two other than just his dress code.

Senior Pastor Dan Brown, Traditional Service Dunwoody United Methodist Church [NIKON D5, 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 4000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250]

Just six years ago the church added a contemporary service that met in their gym. It is now the best attended service and needed more space. This is why they converted their largest space to accommodate the group.

Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church

One of the largest churches in America, North Point Community Church, is nearby. Many churches lost members to this church because of the style of worship and sermons.

When Andy Stanley started the church in November of 1995 they intentionally created a new format and wanted to be different than all the churches in the area. Andy said, “Atlanta does not need another church. What Atlanta does need is a safe environment where the unchurched can come and hear the life-changing truth that Jesus Christ cares for them and died for their sins.” So began North Point Community Church.

Andy understood the audience better than most at the time for Atlanta in 1995.

WHY CHURCHES ARE DYING AND DECLINING FASTER TODAY

Slow response to change as change accelerates all around us. Many churches are incredibly slow to change. For most of our American history, the pace of cultural and technological change was sufficiently paced for churches to lag only five to ten years. Now churches are lagging 20 and 30 years as the pace of change increases dramatically. To many attendees and members, the church thus seems increasingly irrelevant. To be clear, I am speaking about issues of style, methodology, and awareness, not changing doctrine or biblical truths. A church guest I recently interviewed said it clearly: “I stuck with my parents’ church as long as I could. But when we had a big blow up over projection screens in the worship center, I had enough. I wanted to go to a church where matters of minutia were not issues to fight over.”

Thom Rainer

I believe that the church isn’t the only organization that has to do a better job of understanding their audience. Journalism has suffered a great deal because they have lost touch with their audience.

Like the churches that are growing the content should not change, but rather the issues of style, methodology and awareness needs to change.

Today communicators need to do a better of getting to know their audience. While you must master the subject to communicate it, just as importantly you must put as much attention to the understanding of the audience.

One of the largest problems most people have with anything they create is they think people will just discover them. Well the smart ones know you have to advertise and appeal to the needs of that audience to engage them.

I know that some of the most successful organizations are those who have created a fictitious family/customer. This family represents the median of the bell curve of that community.

I have listened to writers and editors arguing over why Sam and Sally [fictitious couple] would be interested in a story.

If you cannot tell me why a story you are working on is necessary for those in your audience to see, then the odds of anyone reading it are not good.

You have to tell people how this information can impact their lives. Surprisingly I have been shocked when people show me their work in journalism and I ask why they did a story that they cannot tell me why the audience needs to know about it.

If you know your audience as well as you know your subject you will not have to worry about a Plan “B”.

Meet Storyteller Hannah Bohrer

I walked over to Hannah Bohrer and asked her about her story. The night before she had met her subject of the story Marlen Talledo.

Marlen and Hannah at the premier showing of the videos. [Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, ISO 3200, ƒ/6.3, 1/60]

Hannah was really moved by Marlen’s story. You can see when Marlen showed up for the event we had for the community to see the videos we had been working on our last night in Lima that Hannah was excited to see Marlen.

When we were working with Hannah on the story she was passionate about the content and all that she had learned about Marlen’s story.

Hannah talks with Pat Davison about her story. [Canon EOS 7D, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, ISO 3200, ƒ/4, 1/60]

One of the hardest things each of the students struggled with and through was the cutting their videos down in time.

Andrea Carhuachîn helped translate Hannah’s video. Andrea lives in Peru and is in college studying communications and joined our workshop for the week as a translator. [Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, ISO 1600, ƒ/4.5, 1/60]

There were a few criteria for which we made our decisions. First the missionaries picked people whose lives were changed by a particular ministry. We did stories on the seminary, a radio station and the prenatal center.

Marlen Talledo is the director of Centro Prenatal Vida Nueva [english “New Life Prenatal Center”] and if the content didn’t help tell the story of how the Prenatal center changed her life, we cut that out of the story.

The other thing that was driving our stories was the audience. Why should the audience care and also how can they get involved? You see if the audience was to be a conference where this video would be shown then we kept them in mind. If the audience was churches in the United States that are supporting the ABWE missionaries we would be sure the content would engage them.

One way I help teach this simple, yet very important concept of storytelling, was to ask people to think of communicating something to the mother or dad. Would how they tell the story change depending on which parent they were talking to at the moment.

Most all the videos were made for the United States churches that support ABWE and for the missionaries to use them also with the Peruvian churches that support these ministries.

Hopefully this gives you enough of the context for which Hannah made this video. Please comment below about what you think of the story.

If you want to learn how to have an experience like Hannah in storytelling workshop please consider joining us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

If you have a group that would like to have us come and teach you storytelling then write to me so we can create a special workshop for your organization.

Meet Storyteller Naomi Harward

I met Naomi Harward a couple years ago on our Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Nicaragua. Naomi is one of the quietest people I have ever met.

Naomi working with James Dockery on her project. [Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, ISO 1600, ƒ/4, 1/60]

Naomi said many times that video isn’t something she likes. She prefers writing. We continued to push her out of her comfort zone.

Pat Davison looks at Naomi’s project. [Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, ISO 1600, ƒ/5.6, 1/60]

Each one of the instructors is direct when advising students. We do not beat around the bush. They give their strong opinions because they want the very best story possible for the subject and for the audience.

Naomi is the only workshop participant who did her story in English and then had it translated into Spanish for subtitles.

Listen to Sara Lu tell her story and see how Naomi captured it for you here:

If you want to learn how to have an experience like Naomi in storytelling workshop please consider joining us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storyteller Josiah McConville

First thing I noticed about Josiah is he was taller than me. I learned he was studying film at Liberty University.

Josiah was also pretty quiet. He was a listener.

[Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, , ISO 1600, Ä/5, 1/100]

We sat and talked about his subject for a while. The hardest part in the beginning for Josiah was finding the storyline thread that he wanted to tell. He was asking great questions, but each question was making the story broader and not more focused.

Josiah McConville’s Story Lucho & Rosa Martinez, David Heim – Translator. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 800, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

After he did his first interview I went with Josiah on the second interview. He did a great job. He was able to help the couple focus on how what the seminary had meant to their ministry.

Josiah McConville’s Story Lucho & Rosa Martinez, David Heim – Translator. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 1800, ƒ/7.1, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

One of the difficulties perplexing not just Josiah, but me as well, was getting our heads around the way Lucho and Rosa talked about their ministry. Josiah dug a little deeper by asking follow-up questions like tell me how that felt when you went through that time.

Listen to the story that Josiah captured of Lucho and Rosa Martinez here:

If you want to learn how to have an experience like Josiah in storytelling workshop please consider joining us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storyteller Rose Finley

I first met Rose Finley on our Storytellers Abroad workshop in Nicaragua. Rose is such a joy to be around. While she is quiet she does love to laugh.

Rose talking with missionary. [NIKON D7100, 18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/6.3, 1/60]

If Rose was not working on her project by herself she was listening. She is a person of few words. You can see her listening with not just her ears but her eyes.

Whenever I talked with Rose I always felt I had her full attention.

[NIKON D7100, 18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 1/80]

You can see during her interview how focused she was with the subject. Rose cares deeply about people and making them feel appreciated.

Rose is getting input on her story from ABWE missionary Evelyn Stone. [Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, ISO 1600, ƒ/4.5, 1/60]

Rose is also very independent. I would have to seek her out and ask if I could help. If I didn’t ask I think she would have not wanted to bother me or the other teachers. She did however ask for help in translation from Spanish to English.

Rose works with ABWE missionary and seminary professor Dave Stone on the translation.[NIKON D7100, 18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, ISO 640, ƒ/4, 1/80]

Listen to the story that Rose captured of Carol Banda.

If you want to learn how to do storytelling like Rose please consider joining us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storytellers Marissa Dickey and Jamie Gessner

Both Marissa Dickey and Jamie Gessner are ABWE Career Missionaries serving in Colombia, South America.

When Jeff Raymond and I went on our scouting trip to Lima in October we talked with Evelyn Stone the founder of the prenatal center and ABWE missionary where she mentioned that Maricielo had just had her baby just a couple days before we arrived.

We knew right away that this was a powerful story. In Peru abortions are illegal. However, 80% of all women have had an abortion according to Evelyn Stone the director of the prenatal center.

[L to R] Marissa Dickey, James Dockery and Jamie Gessner go over the edits on Maricielo’s story. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [X-E3, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 12800, ƒ/5, 1/38, Focal Length = 35]

The purpose of telling Maricielo’s story was to show how many women end up coming to the prenatal center for counseling and help.

Listen to Maricielo and her family tell their story.

Both Marissa and Jamie are fluent in Spanish and English. This made it much easier for them to do the story because they didn’t need translators. Can you imagine everything someone says has to be translated and then everything you say is translated. That takes a lot longer to just have a normal conversation.

[L to R]James Dockery telling stories, with Marissa, Jamie and Jeff Raymond during the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [X-E3, XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 4000, ƒ/7.1, 1/100, Focal Length = 27]

Marissa and Jamie asked every instructor for input on the story. Then they sat together and tried to take all that input and craft a stronger story. The hardest part for them was cutting parts out.

They realized that while some of the great quotes were powerful they were often repetitive.

When you would hear them talking on the last day of editing they were trying there best to keep you the audience engaged and hoping through telling of Maricielo’s story that you would consider getting involved with the prenatal center.

If you want to learn how to do storytelling like Marissa and Jamie did here consider joining us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storyteller Stephanie Simmons

[photo above is of the seminary night classes that share the space with a school]

Jorge Quintana is a seminary student that storyteller Stephanie Simmons was given to tell his story.

See the story she captured here.

Stephanie has lots of positive energy. She is always smiling.

Stephanie Simmons. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/400, Focal Length = 35]

What I admired the most about Stephanie was her focus. She wanted to learn.

[X-E3, XF55-200mm ƒ/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS, ISO 5000, ƒ/7.1, 1/100, Focal Length = 300]

When I talked to her about her story before she did the interview I could tell she had listened to the subjects. I could tell she cared for them and being sure she would stay true to the story.

[X-E3, XF18-55mm ƒ/2.8-4 R LM OIS, ISO 6400, ƒ/7.1, 1/100, Focal Length = 36]

Now I love to watch people and just observe them. I noticed Stephanie would be on the edges of the group participating but also listening.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

When the instructors were meeting each night to see who might need more help the next day on their stories, we all talked about how Stephanie welcomed ideas and was so eager to learn.

If you want to learn how to tell a missions story like Stephanie join us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storyteller Jay York

Jay York working on his story for the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 32000, ƒ/6.3, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

I have known Jay York for years. We met at the Southwestern Photojournalism Seminar in Fort Worth, Texas. Jay was using his vacations to photograph for the ABWE.

Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/800, Focal Length = 35]

Many years ago photographers volunteered their time to help ABWE missionaries by taking photos of work around the world that went into a database. During the film years missionaries would have to go to Harrisburg, PA offices and look through all the 35mm slides and get copies to use in their slide shows that they showed to churches and supporters when they were on furlough.

Jay York and translator Andrea Carhuachîn. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 51200, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 62]

During our week in Lima, Peru Jay worked on a story about Elvira Cuevas Bolívar. Here is the package that Jay produced.

Jay worked methodically not only in being sure he understood Elvira’s story, which is much bigger than told in this package, but to work with three instructors Pat Davison, James Dockery and myself.

Jay York’s Story on Elvira Cuevas with Andrea Carhuachîn serving as translator. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 2200, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

Jay wanted to understand every aspect of the storytelling process.

Elvira Cuevas – Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 4500, ƒ/4.5, 1/200, Focal Length = 68]

Just a couple months before the trip Jay switched camera systems to the Fuji mirrorless system. Jay shot most of this project on the Fuji X-T3.

Jay York with Elvira Cuevas and her son Chris. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4.5, 1/200, Focal Length = 68]

If you want to learn how to tell a missions story like Jay join us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Meet Storyteller Josh Hart

Josh Hart Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0 , ISO 28800, ƒ/4, 1/200, Focal Length = 24]

Mr. Positivity is how I would describe Josh Hart. He was the first person to introduce himself to me when I first met the group in Lima, Peru. He was eager to learn and had a wonderful smile.

We spent time sitting by his computer and talking about his story on Darwin and Azucena Diaz. He went out and interviewed them and then the next day I was able to go with Josh as he spent more time getting B-Roll.

In film and television production, B-roll, B roll, B-reel or B reel is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot. 

Here is the story that Josh produced during his week in Lima, Peru.

Josh Hart’s story on Darwin & Vanessa Diaz. He is a teacher at the Iglesia Evangelica Bautista “Las Flores” in San Juan de Lurigancho area of Lima, Peru. To the left is ABWE missionary Jon Stone who teaches at the seminary. During our time in Lima Jon was a translator, driver, food coordinator and more for the Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640, Focal Length = 28]

Each student had time with their subjects at a meal with everyone when we arrived. The the following day they hung out with them again getting to know them better.

Josh Hart’s story on Darwin & Vanessa Diaz. Storytellers Abroad Workshop in Lima, Peru [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640, Focal Length = 28]

Josh loves technology and shot his interviews in 4k. If you are not a geek that just means he shot them video with a very high resolution camera. This way he could shoot the couple side by side and then just zoom in on one person at a time. This made it possible to shoot with one camera but get some variety our of the interview.

While working together shooting his B-Roll I just hung back and watched. Since he had told me what he was wanting to capture I would just add suggestion when he ran out of ideas.

Josh Hart’s story on Darwin & Vanessa Diaz. [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640, Focal Length = 28]

The one thing I was helping with Josh on was how to put into words his direction to the couple and translator what he needed next. He could tell them he needed them to walk in a direction, but he was having a hard time to tell them what they should be thinking about when they were being filmed.

“We are capturing you when you come to the church and have to take the taxi and unlock the building. I need you to do this a few times so I can film you from your front, back and side. Just do what you do every day when you make this trip.”

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640, Focal Length = 28]

“I want to capture the two of you doing a bible study together that you talked about in the interview. Find a passage you guys have been working on together. I need you both to talk back and forth.”

If you want to learn how to tell a missions story like Josh join us this June in Romania with Storytellers Abroad.

Shocking Blog Stats

So I was working on my resume which some clients were wanting when I was asked by a friend about my blog. I had not really put this into my resume.

He pointed out that I had a pretty wide reach. So I started to dig into the Google Analytics. My Analytics includes my website & blog. Most of the traffic is going to the blog since that is new content.

The map above just shows the past couple of years of the countries that have visited my blog. I think the reach is greater if I go back to when I started in 2006, but I changed from blogger to wordpress and lost some of those stats.

192 countries I had visiting the blog over the last two years.

I had over 81,000 new users. WOW! I was shocked. On average when they visited they went to about 4 different pages.

They were translating my page into 151 different languages.

Click on this chart to see it larger

My top ten posts tend to be where people are looking for camera settings or technical blogs. Users were spending about 5:44 on “Nikon D5 Sports Settings”. I can understand why. That camera has a menu that resembles the cockpit of a jetliner.

Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

John Wooden

How do you toot your own horn without coming off as cocky? You want to showcase your best accomplishments on your resume so that they are right there in black and white. If you do this right then they will pop out and really help to separate you from the pack. This isn’t bragging but rather helping to show that you truly are the right candidate for the job.

What I discovered in polishing my resume was to find someone who really knows you to review it. It helps if they are good in communications.

What I am discovering is that I have been hurting myself because I was taking for granted some of my biggest accomplishments.

Another huge thing I learned is I was thinking too much about the details and not enough about broad brush strokes of what my skills were beyond just photography.

After a lot of self examination this week I recommend you do the same. Revising your resume is a good exercise to help you know what value to bring to the table. It is a good thing to do to start off the year. It helps you celebrate your accomplishments and evaluate your weaknesses that you might want to work on this year.