The Art of Story Telling by Natalie Licini


When a person feels a strong emotion to an event or scene this may be burned in their memory banks. Whether the portrait makes them laugh, cry or curious, it’s important to create an emotional connection between the viewer and your art.  I try to direct their minds to particular story by use of mood and emotion, concept, narration and message to tell the story.  I try to draw out the emotions within the story in hopes that my viewers envision themselves in my work.  I hope to touch the heart of my viewers.

I allow the emotion of my own life experiences to come through in my work.  Capturing that portrait may be as impactfull to my client as some of my own most memorable moments.  I know many of my fondest childhood memories are held in my favorite photos. These are priceless to me.  You have to put the proper value on your products and services.


The Art of Story Telling

My process begins with the concept, which is a collaboration and intimate look inside the life of my client.  During my first consultation and beyond, I try to get to know them.  I approach meeting new clients as I do when forging new friendships.  It’s not an interview, but a gradual process getting to know them.  I ask about their family, how they spend their weekends and summer vacations. I ask about their hobbies, activities, likes and dislikes. This helps me peek into their life as we discuss and plan their portrait.  I don’t always have as much time as I’d like to get to know my clients, but I make the best of every situation.

Next, I strive to create an emotional connection in my portraits.   Each client is unique, but in my portrait with a mother holding her son for example I asked her “How old is your son?” “Do you remember the moment he was born and you held him in your arms for the very first time? Evoking this emotion is important in my portraits. But the art of story telling is two-fold.  My viewer must connect to a place or an event through my vision as well.

Executing the portrait with proper lens choice, lighting and composition is crucial.  I keep my portraits simple and uncluttered.  I often shoot with natural light.  When shooting in my clients’ home for example, I open all the windows and will pull down the shades if I need to diffuse the light.   Shooting at the right time of day is important.  I also look for the best quality light in the room.  Each corner of a room may have different light.  If you’re unsure have your assistant stand in each area and see where they look best.  You’ll often notice one corner of a room may produce harsh shadows and raccoon eyes.  Look for an area where your assistant or client glows. An alternative of course is to use off camera flash when the quality of light is not ideal.

Leaving Your Footprint

Leaving your footprint within the story is different for everyone.  For me, it is personal tragedy, hardships, achievements & milestones that greatly impact my work.  There are two life events that have greatly impacted me.  These are evident in every picture I take of a bride and her father as well as the relationship I build with newborns and their parents.

The Business of Story Telling

Offering a signature line to your clients can boost your sales.  The art of story telling can be infused into your signature line.  Creating imagery that tugs on your heart’s strings is priceless.  When you think about priceless work, you know it’s very expensive.

In person sales presentations is a key ingredient for higher overall sales.
 But first you must value your work and price it accordingly. The Signature line can be printed by Black River Imaging on art paper, giclee or canvas at a premium.  Selecting vendors who are able to delivery with the product quality and service you need is essential.

The best way you can connect your work with your viewers is to draw out the emotions within the story and utilize them in your portraits.  You want your audience to envision themselves in your work. Highlight a dynamic story built on a set of core values and emotions that touch the heart of its audience.  As you create heirlooms for your clients, you’ll see in the years to come how much they cherish them.  Making priceless works of art for your client is a great revenue stream.

As always, if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.  Please email me at

You can see more of Natalie’s story telling images on her website.