From listening to grandma tales to watching a classic cinema, in a form of an anecdote or a recital, the age old art of storytelling has become an inseparable part of our life. To think about it, childhood would not be the same without Malgudi Days or The Famous Fives and The Hardy Boys. Stories in words or visuals, both have etched unforgettable memories. In the digital era, netizens are using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to tell narratives and creating the impact through words and photographs.
Micro fictional stories
Terribly Tiny Tales, one such firm, popularized the art of micro fictions. Micro Fictions is an interesting concept of telling fictional stories in less than 140 words on social media.
Anuj Gosalia, co-founder and CEO of the Terribly Tiny Tales, talks about his journey. “I always enjoyed writing especially fiction. The first story that I wrote was called ‘feather’- it went like – ‘Then I used a feather to write poems on your back, you wouldn’t stop moving, now I use it as a quill, not once, have my words moved you.’ It created the first great impression and inspired a lot of friend who were writers to participate.”
“Due to social media the readership has considerably declined. So we wanted to create a place for stories in a format where people enjoy the stories. It’s been designed to look like a photograph with black background and white text, which makes it easier to read. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the most important platforms for Terribly Tiny Tales.”
Anuj Gosalia talks about about micro fiction as an art. “Micro fiction is a lot like wind-up toys. You don’t have to read a book to come across a feeling. You can talk about so many issues; it’s like an exploration into heart and mind. In that little moment it can make you feel something. It opens up the small window in your mind for thoughts. You have something to chew on, some small trace for your imagination to go through. It doesn’t aspire to change the world or change the life but in small doses keep your heart and mind happy.”
Tales through words and visuals are the contemporary trends in terms of content on social media. Photo narratives are stories with no words, sound, dialogues or moving images. Photo stories are be fiction as well as nonfiction.
Many Instagrammers look for photographs that are more than just picturesque and abstract. A photojournalist and an avid Instagrammer, Prashanth Vishwanathan talks about his journey of capturing the visual narratives through photography. “I joined photojournalism for a reason and the reason was to click images that have a story behind it. I used to go and explore the stories and then convert it in photographs and tell the story in one photograph. Unlike documentary films, here there is only one picture.”
He talks about his work and how he joined the growing trend of Instagramming photo stories, “once I posted a photo story I clicked, of a young girl picking cotton from cotton field in Andaman and it went viral. After that, I began Instagramming more seriously and started posting regular stories that I came across.”
He further adds, “I remember this one narrative that I clicked post Nepal earthquake. It was of a woman who was crying for her cow that passed away in the mishap. The story behind the photo was that she cared a lot for the cow and was emotionally attached. The emotions captured made it a powerful photo.” Prashant Vishwanathan is a professional photojournalist working for news agencies and a serious Instagrammer with 50,000 followers. His work featured several times in newspapers and Instagram timeline.
‘Coming out’ is a powerful photo narrative that focuses on the problems faced by the same sex lovers in the society. The series of 31 pictures is about a lesbian couple who suffer the harsh reaction of the society when they try to be together. The photo narrative went viral on Facebook and Instagram and was covered by press both in India and overseas. The man behind the photo story, photographer Arjun Kamath, talks about ‘Coming Out’ and about photo narratives on social media in general, “I am studying in L.A., and here I have many friends who are gay and sometime we talk about life in general.
One day over a conversation I realized how difficult it is for the people who are gay, to confess about their sexuality in India. That’s when I got the idea of ‘Coming Out’. I thought it was an innovative and powerful idea to tell people and enlighten them about certain issue. When I made the photo series, I did not realize that people will appreciate it so much. Photo stories can be very powerful and can emotionally affect people”
He ends the conversation by saying, “If you do it the right way, social media is a great platform for artists. When putting up an artwork online one has to be careful, sensitive and responsible. It’s a two way thing. If you put a great content people appreciate and if you put just anything, you won’t get good response.” Arjun Kamath, a professional photographer, has more than 80,000 followers on Facebook and 6,000 followers on Instagram.