Life as a Visual Storyteller

All content © Roger Overall unless specified

Tag: Video

More and Better (#MoreBetter)


This week, Chris Brogan‘s newsletter was about taking inspiration from people who always look to improve themselves. People who want to learn more skills and deepen the ones they have. He started the #MoreBetter hashtag.

It think that’s important for us as creatives.

I was once exclusively a professional photographer. It was hard to make ends meet, but I loved it. Then, around the time that I felt I was set to become successful in the business, the industry changed. What was once a powerful string in my bow was reduced to a slack piece of twine. Making a living wage from photography became difficult. For me, it became almost impossible.

So I pivoted a couple of times. Not very successfully.  With one exception. I learned  how to make videos – and there is business to be had. Those are the skills I’m working to improve most now. Philip Bloom, Vincent Laforet, Andrew Reid – these are the people I learn from. And from the suite of video courses available at

Skills are merely a tool

Here’s the thing, though: skills are only tools. Like a hammer or a screwdriver.

It used to be the case that owning the tool was enough. Photography used to be a daunting undertaking involving chemicals and darkrooms and cameras that didn’t show you the photograph the instant you took it. The tool itself was hard. Getting an in-focus, correctly exposed picture was difficult. Just being able to do that was enough to get paid.

Now, the technical side of photography is much easier. It has become like buying a hammer. We can all buy the same high-quality hammer. Put another way: everyone is a photographer.

By the way, I think that’s a good thing. Lots of people are telling wonderful visual stories now.

What are you going to do with the tool?

David Hobby wrote something great recently – actually, he writes a lot of great things, but this stuck in my mind. His Strobist website will teach you all you need to know about lighting your photographs. It will give you a voice. David asks, now that you have your voice, what are you going to say?

This is where I think we can survive and thrive as creatives. Yes, we need to master our tools (photography, video, animation, audio, music… you name it… cartooning). That’s important. But even more important is that we use those tools to express our unique vision.

Photography used to be the thing that I put on a pedestal. It was the thing that set me apart and paid the bills.

That time has passed.

What sets me and you apart now is our creativity. Commercial photographer and entrepreneur Chase Jarvis thinks that creativity is the new literacy. I agree. We need to dig deeper than just owning the tools. We have to use them to build things nobody else can. We have to let our imaginations run wild and then use the tools we have to bring what we see in our minds to life.

Two people I’ve recently strayed across are Ru and Max of Tiny Inventions. They have a very deep toolbox and they use it to do this kind of amazing stuff:

Between Times -Trailer from Tiny Inventions on Vimeo.
Ru and Max have mastered their tools. They are a great inspiration to me to learn more tools myself so that I can do more with my creativity. My Lynda playlist just got a whole lot longer.


Here’s a video that gives a behind the scenes look at how Ru and Max work:

Between Two Worlds, The Hybrid Animation of Tiny Inventions from on Vimeo.

Multi-Disciplinary Soup

Disjointed Business Model

© 2014 Roger Overall

Note: There is too much me in this post. Just saying that upfront. You’re better off going straight here: Chris Brogan.

If you’re a creative, you can probably turn your hand to more than one thing. Seems to me, anyway. I’ve yet to meet a creative who couldn’t. You may have one thing you excel at, maybe even two. You probably wouldn’t embarrass yourself in a couple of other arenas either. That’s good thing. It’s also a tricky thing to manage. Continue reading

The Best Coffee Shop in Ireland*

I’m torn.

Should I tell you about this superb coffee place or not?

If I do, you’ll know about my favourite den. You’ll go there. You’ll love it. You’ll sit on my favourite stool and I’ll never be able to get rid of you.

At the same time, I want the wonderful people who run it to succeed. I want the place to do healthy business so that I can go there for many more years. So I shouldn’t keep it to myself. That wouldn’t do them (and by association, me) any good. Continue reading

Behind the Pixels – Episode 8 – David Bailey and Vlogging

David Bailey produces great storytelling videos about life in Bosnia. His engaging films are produced using nothing more than a smartphone and a few apps. He likes to keep things simple. He also likes to keep the time he invests in producing films to a minimum.

In this episode of Behind the Pixels, he talks about telling appealing stories using smartphone video. He also gives tips about overcoming self-confidence or notions that your story isn’t worth telling.

How to Make Yourself Look Good by Making Someone Else Look Great

As storytellers (for ourselves, for our businesses) we face many challenges. Not least of which is that nobody is waiting for us to tell them just how smashing we are. “We’re dynamite, don’t you agree?” is a pretty thin storyline. Nevertheless, it’s one that many businesses peddle. After a while, the world merely shrugs its shoulders and moves on to more interesting things.

One way to overcome this is to shine the spotlight on someone else.

Take a look at the video here. Watch it all the way through because there is a relevant question coming up.


Continue reading

Video: The 12-Mile Menu

What does “local” mean to you?

The Oxford Dictionary defines local as “relating or restricted to a particular area or one’s neighbourhood”. That’s fairly inconclusive. Other dictionaries are equally obtuse.

I’m just as bad. I merely have a sense of “local”. It feels local if it’s within a 20-minute drive. More or less.

That makes it hard to talk about local food. Where do you draw the boundary between local and regional?

It’s not like we don’t have enough issues with labelling as it is. Let’s not get into what “Irish” food is.

A solution

Kevin Aherne, who owns Sage Restaurant in Midleton, Co. Cork, has provided his own answer. For him, local falls within a 12-mile radius of the restaurant. It’s an arbitrary line, but as good as any I think. It gives him an anchor for his menu at any rate.

Going this route is a huge commitment. Kevin has to get to know all of his suppliers individually and build a relationship with each in turn. Instead of a single centralized delivery, he has many. It is a time-consuming process.

His approach has advantages though. Buying from suppliers within 12 miles of the restaurant enhances accountability. He knows exactly where each ingredient has come from. He can vet it, keeping standards high. He can ask questions of his suppliers.

He can also get their stories and pass those on to his own customers. These days, there is benefit in being able to name the farmer who raised your beef or your pork, and being able to tell you about the man who runs the abattoir where the animals were slaughtered. Through stories, trust is built. Trust that what Kevin puts on a plate for you is wholesome as well as delicious.

Maybe that’s something local gives us: trust. We trust it because we know where it came from and we know who produced it.

Video: Smoked Salmon by the Burren Smokehouse

The Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, is one of Ireland’s best fish smokers. Good enough to for its salmon to be served to the President of Ireland and the Queen of England any way.

I’d worked with Birgitta, who runs the smokehouse, before – producing a series of documentary photographs. At the time, I thought it was hard work. Getting up at 3AM to photograph master smoker Peadar Reilly working his magic on the fish: filletting, salting and prepping the smoker with oak shavings. I mean, 3AM. It’s ungodly. No wonder it’s known as the Devil’s Hour. Continue reading

Video: Brill with Truffled Savoy Cabbage and Crispy Bacon

Chef Barry McLaughlin cooks some pretty special stuff. I once ate close to his entire Poacher’s Inn menu during a photo shoot. (Photography may be not be as well paid as it once was, but there are still perks – though I should stop wondering why my waistline won’t shift).

Barry speaks beautifully about his food and the thinking behind it. Watching him work is mesmerising. He moves fluidly and quickly, producing sumptuousness in minutes.

On Wednesday, we spent some time together and came up with this:

Brill with Truffled Savoy Cabbage and Crispy Bacon from Roger Overall on Vimeo.