Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

IT was a Thursday lunchtime, and with a chillier breeze in the air the first signs of winter had hit Cardiff. Unusually, the maths class finished early, so, eager as ever, the journalism students sat expectantly, waiting to discover who next would appear to lecture and invigorate us in more pioneering ways of social media….

Step one, set the scene. Next, develop the story.

Today was to be a  lesson in storytelling, from Dr Daniel Meadows, a Cardiff University lecturer, photographer and storyteller. JD Lasica, a leading figure in social media and UGC, has described Meadows as “one of the icons of the Digital Storytelling movement”.

At the age of 21, Meadows – looking unrecognisable in his flared trousers, wooly jumper, bushy mop, and scarf cast over his shoulder like Tom Baker – set off around England in a double-decker JRR 404 omnibus, photographing, what would become a catalogue of the ordinary man, woman and child in the 70s, and giving those photographs away for free.

Daniel Meadows and his Photobus
Like Dr Who and his Tardis, Daniel Meadows travelled around England in his Photobus

Meadows is now producing short videos, telling simple stories about the people he encountered. The one which recounts his stay (strictly observational) in a psychiatric ward at Prestwich Hospital, Manchester, was quite enthralling. But there are no flashing lights or special effects. Meadows is more Mike Leigh than Steven Spielberg. His approach of combining a series of still images with a voice over is simple, but effective. He tells the story, and gives depth to his photographs. Kipling, Blyton, Dahl – like them, Meadows is a storyteller, but for the digital age.

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