Posted in Visual Storytelling

Pictures that tell a Story

There are so many pictures out there that tell amazing stories. A quick google search of it and you’ll find hundreds, maybe even thousands (if you dig long enough). Many of these aren’t even staged. The power that one image can have is incredible. Some can even change the world. Here are ten images that I think tell stories very well (many of these wouldn’t have the power to change the world).

Buzzer beaters are some of the most iconic moments in sports history. Whether you’re a fan of the team or not, you can always respect an amazing buzzer beater (unless it was used to beat your team). This photo has many layers to the celebration that is occurring. You can see Lebron James cheering as he made the final shot, and one of his teammates coming over to celebrate with him. You see the red lining around the backboard meaning that the shot was good. Then, of course, you have the crowd. Every arm is up and cheering as the leader of their team just won them the game. This fits the classic example of Archetype, one of the four pillars of visual storytelling. The main focus is of course, the hero, Lebron James. But with all the moving parts surrounding him in this photo is does a great job of actually telling you what just happened.

This photo disturbed me when I first saw and I immediately clicked on. “Children for sale”? That can’t possibly be true. That’s the point of photos like this though. It’s to grab the attention of the viewer. “The capture of visually interesting content is at the foundation of visual storytelling” (2 Gitner). This photo is probably one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen. It grabs your attention the second you see it. You want more. You want to know what’s happening with these four children.

Right off the bat I’m hooked. Garbage cans burning. A masked man flipping the bird. What more could someone want for a story. Why is any of this happening? It’s clearly a riot happening, but why is it happening. Is the masked man an upset sanitation expert and he’s burning garbage cans as a protest? Or is it something much bigger? This is a great example of dramaturgy. “Telling a story so captivatingly that the audience have to the story right to the end” (27 Bergström).

This is my favorite photo that I’ve found, because I relate heavily to it. Which is one of the four pillars of visual storytelling, Relevance. I’ve done this a bunch with my girlfriend. We’ll be sitting down together, I’ll either have my guitar or ukulele out and we’ll be singing together. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite look like this couple is entirely “in love”. The girl doesn’t seem to be smiling while the guy is playing. Maybe they’re going through a tough time and he’s trying to make her feel better with music?

We all have those moments where we either do something incredibly stupid or our friends do something incredibly stupid. If we did it, we just facepalm ourselves thinking, “how could I be this dumb”. If your friend did it, you look at them and just think (while laughing) “why am I friends with you”. From my memory (I only watched Star Trek with my dad), Captain Picard doesn’t normally get too frustrated, so something very frustrating must have happened to him before this happened.

I’ve always found Pompeii extremely interesting, ever since I was a child. The lovers of Pompeii is, by far, the most interesting thing that was discovered at the runes of Pompeii. They’re called lovers, but we never know for sure. It could be two friends that were holding each other before the inevitable happened. There’s a theory that these two people could have been gay lovers. Which adds even more mystery behind all of this. There’s also not just one discovery of people hugging, but multiple ones.

As I had mentioned in my previous post, scars tell the most interesting stories. Was this man abused or tortured? Was he attacked and mauled by an animal? If so, what type of animal? The possibilities aren’t endless, but you won’t know how scars like that happened unless you do more research. Knowing that, this picture did its job.

This picture is scary. I don’t quite know what time period it was taken in, but a child smoking is never something good. Now, this could be a posed picture to get a certain effect (which it clearly did), but unfortunately it could also be a real photo. It’s almost as if the two girls in the shot are out of work on a smoke break. Enjoying the little freedom they have before they have to begin working again.

This was probably the greatest picture taken of the 2018-2019 NBA season. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals, Kawhi Leonard hits the game winning shot as he falls back off his back foot. So much in this picture is happening, but everything happening revolves around one thing. “Is it going in?” Joel Embiid watches helplessly as the ball sores through the air. Kawhi Leonard is watching, praying hoping the ball gets the right bounce and falls in. Kawhi’s teammates watching, hyping him up as they believe the shot will go in.

Now who doesn’t love dogs? They’re some of the most lovable creatures on the planet. A smiling dog tells some of the best stories. Did the dog and its owner get back from a walk? Maybe they were playing fetch or running around at the park for a while? Maybe the dog is just happy getting a hug from its owner? I know my dogs always love getting hugs. Since most of the people I’ve met are dog lovers I’d say this picture is very relevant to them. A smiling dog always seems to make me happy.


Bergström Bo. Essentials of Visual Communication, pages 14-27. Laurence King, 2009.

DeMeré, Nichole Elizabeth. “The Power of Visual Storytelling: 15 Stunning Examples to Inspire You.” HubSpot Blog, HubSpot, 11 May 2016,

McKenna, Josephine. “Embracing Figures at Pompeii ‘Could Have Been Gay Lovers’, after Scan Reveals They Are Both Men.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 7 Apr. 2017,

Proceedings of NAACL-HLT 2016, pages 1233–1239, San Diego, California, June 12-17, 2016. c 2016 Association for Computational Linguistics

Gitner, Seth. Multimedia Storytelling for Digital Communicators in a Multiplatform World. Routledge, 2015.

“Worth 1,000 Words: The 4 Principles of Visual Storytelling.” Action Graphics, 26 July 2018,

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