Asher Svidensky, a documentary photographer who introduced Mongolia to the world with his “The Eagle Huntress” photography, is conducting a training on “Using storytelling as an effective communication” to the public on April 28, 2022. We have invited him to our Educated Interview.
HOW DID YOU START YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY AND CREATIVE PRODUCTION CAREER?
I started my career as a photographer back in 2009 when I was conscripted to the IDF as a military photographer. After completing my service, with honors and at the rank of Sergeant major, I continued working as a photographer by developing large-scale photography projects of my own, specializing in mixing cultural photography with art and storytelling.
Over the years, many of my images and stories were published in media such as National Geographic, BBC, The Guardian, and many more. As my career as a storyteller developer, I gradually moved to the world of cinema; this happened following the adaptation of one of the photo projects into a full-length film by Sony (The Eagle Huntress). The film premiered at the Sun Dance festival and I was credited both as a producer and 2nd cameraman. Following that, I directed a few short films for UNICEF, People in Need, MBZRCF, and other international organizations. The most recent of these film productions (Changing Skies) has premiered at COP26.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPACTFUL WORKS YOU HAVE DONE SO FAR, IN YOUR OPINION?
As I mentioned before, many of my projects got published in mainstream media, and different film productions I was a part of received massive worldwide exposure – which are very humbling and rewarding experiences. However, as far as I’m concerned, the most cherished and impactful work in my career is the countless public speaking engagements I have done over the years.
While I love developing unique and powerful visual stories, using my skills as a photographer and cinematographer, I always cherished being able to share my experience, professional knowledge, and stories with different audiences all around the world. This is, without a doubt, one of the most rewarding and impactful experiences of my career. Throughout my career, I was privileged enough to share my stories from prestigious stages such as the Oxford natural history museum, TEDXwhitecity, PPOC, the UN headquarters in Thailand, MGM Macau, and the Australian embassy (Mongolia), and many others. I have shared my views and experience about all things revolving around storytelling, art, cultures, and how to best present them to different audiences around the world.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE STORYTELLING? WHY IS IT CONSIDERED TO BE SUCH AN EFFECTIVE TOOL THESE DAYS?
At its core, storytelling is the art of communicating ideas between people. Whether you are talking to a friend, sharing your thoughts with your co-workers, or attempting to write down an interesting article about your interests – in all of these cases, you are essentially telling a story. If your story has a good structure, it’s easy to follow and you present it clearly – people will react better to what you tell them and remember your message. But if your story is a structural mess, not well put together, and is tricky to follow along… not only will your ideas go to waste but you are also wasting your and the listener’s time.
Now, it’s important to understand that storytelling is an art form. When you are engaging with the idea of building a story, it is always helpful to use the hard-earned experience of professionals. Artists who honed their craft and skillsets through years of working on different projects and artistic endeavors. However, this doesn’t mean that storytelling can only be done well by professionals.
Like any other art form in the world, storytelling has a series of technical skill sets and elements that, with proper guidance and training, anyone can learn to use in their everyday life and tell powerful stories. I truly believe that if more individuals or companies would take the time to learn more about the techniques and key elements of storytelling, they would enjoy a higher level and effect of communicating their messages and ideas to the world.
HOW CAN YOU HELP ORGANIZATIONS USE STORYTELLING EFFECTIVELY?
There are a variety of ways to teach storytelling, both on the organizational and individual levels. Beyond teaching key elements of how to think about storytelling and the different structures of building captivating stories, the main idea is always to adapt and customize the training itself to the needs of the group that is engaging with it.
Sometimes it is best to go all out and teach a series of lectures and training sessions about how to professionally build and tell stories on a detailed and professional level – giving the participants a wide and rich understanding of the art of storytelling which they can apply however they deem fit in their futures.
At other times, I found that the best way to teach content-creating teams of certain organizations about storytelling is done through consulting. Basically using my own professional experience to lead and guide them as they develop a specific project of their own. Through that guided process we can find a smooth, clear, and reputable creative process for the organization itself which they can easily use in the future and make sure they express their messages clearly to their audience. The main advantage of this style is that it allows the organization to have its very own easy-to-follow process for future work.
Registration link: Asher Svidensky “Using storytelling as an effective communication tool” бүртгэлийн хуудас (google.com)
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ORGANIZATIONS THAT WANT TO IMPROVE THEIR USE OF STORYTELLING TODAY?
I think that the most important thing that organizations can do to improve their usage of storytelling is to develop a system. A defined process they follow as they begin shaping and choosing which stories they want to put forward to the world and how to best tell them.
Since organizations deal with multiple objectives, and can’t always have a creative person to come and do the work with them on their stories from start to finish, having a customized process of how to build a story can save a lot of time and energy. If you are not sure where to begin – here is a great way to start:
Try to define in a sentence and a half (Tops!) what is the intended message of your story – yes, a story should have only one message as you start off building it. What you are doing with that step is identifying most clearly and simply possible what you are trying to say to the world.
Example: “This is a story about how our organization helps disadvantaged individuals acquire high-level education”
Once you have that one clear and simple sentence – you are ready to begin to build your story around it. Having this clear “Main objective sentence” in front of your creative team will аffect and improve emancely key decisions like what should or shouldn’t be included in the story, who is the best main character to showcase what are we doing, who might be the main audience for our story and other important elements.
Нийтлэлийг Монгол хэлээр унших бол ТҮҮХ ХҮҮРНЭХ НЬ ХАРИЛЦААНЫ ХҮЧТЭЙ ХЭРЭГСЭЛ – Educated дарна уу.