Authentic Storytelling

When my sisters and I were little, I remember that my mom would have us pose for pictures that she would take with her camera, but my dad would always be simultaneously recording for a minute or two at a time with his old clunky video camera.  We were well aware that he was taking a video, but in most cases I think we would just continue to stand there and smile at him.  I never understood why we had to have both photos and videos.  Wasn't one or the other good enough?  My mom would sometimes get pictures printed and we would get to look at them, but we never got to watch the videos my dad took.  Even though I didn't appreciate these clips of our memories at the time, I've definitely learned to appreciate their value over time.

Three years ago, I bought a pretty basic GoPro before going on a family vacation to Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula.  At the time, I had no idea what I was doing.  I just threw a memory card in the camera and started recording pretty much anything and everything.  Some of the footage I recorded is pretty useless if you're using it to make some artistic masterpiece.  For example: a clip of my mom opening the door to our hotel room, Caroline and Victoria failing to row a boat across a river, about 15 minutes of footage of me almost crying because I didn't want to jump off a cliff into Lake Superior.  When I got home, I spliced together the clips and turned it into this mediocre movie that I was proud of at the time.  Check it out!

I brought that camera on a lot of different adventures over the past couple of years.  That one went to Mackinac Island more than a few times, the UP, New York, Washington DC, Rome, Florida, and the Bahamas.  Then I got a new camera, and that one has been through Canada and New England and most recently Israel.  My next adventures for this summer and fall are currently being planned, and of course I'll be taking my camera with me.

Going back to the sweet memories of childhood, yesterday at dinner, we were looking at videos my dad took on his phone when we were on our family road trip to Denver in 2010.  We saw 10-year-old Victoria climbing up on a massive rock and posing like a super hero once she made it to the top, heard our high pitched screams as we waded in a freezing cold mountain stream, and reflected on how happy I am that I no longer look like 13 year old Madeline.  I don't think I had ever seen these videos before, but it was nice getting to relive these moments briefly.

All of these videos I've mentioned are probably the most authentic representation of our memories that we have.  If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video must be worth 1,000,000.  I don't remember exactly how I was feeling when we were hiking through the mountains when I was 13, but you can definitely tell I was pretty annoyed and angsty by the look on my face when I became a Junior Ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We can smile and pose for a picture as much as we want, but I'm convinced that a video will always be more valuable because it's telling a more authentic story.  You can see exactly what we're doing and how we're feeling, and I'd much rather hold onto all my memory cards of camera footage than an album full of pictures of perfectly posed smiling kids.


We have been talking a lot about authenticity in one of my marketing classes, and how consumers will only buy your product or service if you tell them a good authentic story.  If you want to read a good book about marketing via telling stories, check out All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin.  It's a quick and easy read, and it has a lot of interesting examples of stories that brands tell.  I'd be happy to let you borrow my copy once my grandma is done reading it!  While videos of my family aren't going to sell you anything, but video content is becoming more and more popular in marketing because consumers crave authenticity.  Video content also captures people's attention, evokes emotion, and is more memorable than just text or audio.  I'm going to keep recording and editing videos (even though they aren't always artistic masterpieces) and maybe in the future, this hobby could turn into a career.

P.S. I started editing a new video yesterday and I intended to post it here but it's not exactly done, so stay tuned and it will be up soon!