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On this week’s unsigned podcast, Murph catches up with Photographer, Visual Creative, and former neighbor: Visuals By Pierre. 

Pierre is a photographer, born and raised in NYC. He’s worked with countless artists and brands both in New York and around the world, with an emphasis on visual storytelling. He’s executed intricate campaigns for big brands like Puma, Adidas, Underarmour, and more. 

Growing up in Far Rockaway Queens, Pierre discovered his passion for visual arts in high school, which led him to attend St. John’s University to study TV & Film. Shortly after graduating, he started moving away from film and towards photography. After being let go from his day job, he used that time as an opportunity to go full time on photography and never looked back. 

(Message! If you were recently let go from your job due to COVID… this may be the perfect time to explore your passion or deep dive into that project you’ve been putting off. It may not be an easy road, but you won’t regret pursuing your passion!)

In 2018, Pierre decided to team up with other creatives like him from across different mediums to form Finally Offline – a creative collective and think tank that works with brands to strategize and execute unique creative campaigns in various disciplines. Since then, they have created countless projects, worked with a host of fellow creatives, and executed campaigns for big-name brands. One example of which was a collaboration with Adidas Originals where they developed a photography-based interactive campaign called “Goodbye Summer” – which Pierre talks more about during the episode.

Below are some of the key takeaways we pulled out from our chat with Visuals By Pierre. Whether you’re a photographer, an artist, a manager, or something in between, the concepts of visual storytelling, project planning, and creative direction are valuable skills that will only improve your craft and help you better execute on your vision. 

Key Takeaways

Visual Storytelling

If a photo is worth a thousand words… What is it that you’re saying? If you actually pause to think about (and write down) what it is that you want to convey with this image, video, song, graphic, post, etc. – you’ll end up communicating a much more coherent message to your viewer, listener, etc. 

Basically, you want to say what you’re trying to say. Whoever’s looking at the final image is going to have a thought or reaction… and this is your opportunity to get across your thoughts and ideas in a way only you know how. 

Tools that Pierre talked about to help with Visual Storytelling: 

  • Mood Boards 
    • A mood board is a collage or collection of images, graphics, etc. that help to define your brand and communicate your intended message
    • When creating a mood board, search for images that inspire you, or evoke a feeling or vibe that you’d like your brand to also convey
    • Mood boards are a great place to start, as they can help you find inspiration, refine your messaging, and take the first step towards making your idea into a visual reality
    • Here are some tips for creating your own
  • Creative Decks (find a link)
    • A creative deck is a short presentation that walks the viewer through your plan to bring your concept or idea to life
    • Generally made using powerpoint, KeynoteCanva or some other simple presentation software with “slides”
    • A creative deck is similar to a mood board in that it is a planning tool to help refine and communicate your vision, in the hopes of telling a compelling and coherent story

Strategy & Planning

You may think you are an “organized chaos,” “figure-it-out-as-I-go-along” type of person just like Pierre did when he was first starting out. It turns out there’s a word for people like that… sole contributors. Meaning they work alone. It’s basically impossible to create a sustainable process, build a team, and interact with brands and companies if you are forever making it up as you go along. 

When Pierre started working with other creatives and building out a team, he learned the importance of conveying your message or vision to the people you’re working with. For the first time, he learned how to write out his thoughts, explain his vision, and even justify his vision using examples and research that he found during the mood board and deck creation process. By successfully communicating his vision, the team as a whole is able to attack the project more efficiently, more strategically, and improve the end result. 

Now, even when Pierre is working on a project that he’ll execute himself, he always creates a deck or a mood board. Not only do these tools help communicate your vision to others, it helps you refine your vision as you go. The intentional process of putting your ideas on paper (or a screen) and taking time to look, react, and adjust what you see is a powerful tool towards creating the impact you set out to create.

Whatever tool you use, be sure that you are thoughtfully charting a course to your final vision – and accurately communicating that vision to the people you’re working with. 

Equipment & Software Recommendations

Out of the gate… none.

It may not be the answer you were looking for, but according to Pierre if you are brand new to photography the best thing you can do is to just start taking pictures with your phone – which at this point is essentially a high-end camera that can also play Candy Crush… and make calls. 

Use your phone to get a feel for what it’s like “being a photographer.” Get comfortable with being on the lookout for interesting images to capture. Get a feel for composition, subject matter, style, what you are drawn to, and what you are less into. Start messing around with some basic editing software, learn about exposure, contrast, rules of composition, etc. 

Many of your favorite Instagrammers started out with (or even choose) no camera, straight phone. Use this experience to find out what you’re into, what style you are drawn to, what do you enjoy shooting, etc. Maybe you’ll find that you are more drawn to people, or landscapes, or events – or maybe not photos at all and you prefer capturing video. Or maybe you just hate the whole thing. Better to find out before buying an expensive camera or software. 

If you find that you don’t hate it and want to pursue photography further, use your experiences shooting with your phone to figure out which paths you want to explore further. Whichever styles you are drawn to, research the history of that style and the artists that worked in it. Pick your favorite, spend time diving into their work, and familiarizing yourself with the style.

Once you’ve decided that you really do want to pursue photography, NOW it’s time to buy a camera. For beginners, Pierre recommends a simple point-and-shoot camera – the SONY A300 is not a bad choice. For the slightly more advanced (with bigger wallets), there are the beefier DSLRs – the SONY A7 and the FUJI X-T100 are Pierre’s recommendation.

As for software, Lightroom is really all you need, it comes with all the post-processing features you’ll need, and there is a mobile version as well – which comes in handier than you might think. Lightroom comes with the Creative Cloud monthly subscription, which has some other tools that will likely come in handy – like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Spark, and more. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re a photographer, videographer, graphic designer, or other visual creative – if you can get good at accurately capturing and portraying the ethos of a brand, an artist, etc. you will be in high demand. 

On the other hand, if you’re an artist, you are going to want to be super thoughtful about the visuals you are putting out. Everything from your album art, to your Instagram, to your branding, to your font selections, and even your Spotify profile picture should be intentional and have a reason behind it. 

If you feel like you aren’t getting your message across the way you want to with music alone, consider seeking out someone (like Pierre!) that can help you execute on your vision. 

Follow Pierre at @VisualsByPierre on all platforms, as well as his creative collective @FinallyOffline. And be on the lookout for Finally Offline merch dropping soon!