More About Writing

A few days ago I posted an article about the importance of writing about your work in order to improve it and to be able to more easily talk about your work to others.

Another suggestion: look deeper. Closer. Harder. More intensely. And then back off again. Control it, plan it, then let it flow. Create a rapport with your environment.

Try these writing exerciseswhen you’re out in the field making photographs:

1. Get a pen and paper ready. Find a comfortable spot. For 5 minutes sit with your eyes closed. Listen. Feel. Smell. Hear. Do everything but see. Then, open your eyes. Pay attention to your reactions. After a minute or so, jot down a few impressions of the experience.

Then, for 5 minutes, make photographs that reflect your impressions of what you saw when you opened your eyes.

2. No pen and paper necessary for this one. Select a spot (different from #1) that you find photographically intriguing.

For 5 minutes, take as many pictures as you can. Different compositions, different exposures, depth of field, etc. Don’t review anything, just shoot.

In the next 5 minutes, make only one picture. Find a subject and look closer. Then from another angle. From farther away. Consider artistic/creative intentions. Plan your photograph. When you’re ready, make the exposure.

Always keep a pen and paper to jot down ideas, thoughts, notes, impressions. Review your notes periodically and apply what you’ve learned to your photography.

Writing About Your Photography Work

Many of my students as me how they can make their photographs better. Usually, my answer is “put it into words”.

When you write words about your photography it lets a different part of your brain engage in the creative process. Jotting down notes about your creative process, documenting ideas, making sketches, etc. can really solidify a creative concept and help get rid of the clutter, resulting in stronger, more well-conceived photographs. Plus, when asked, you’ll be able to easily describe your work to others.

Language is essential for people conveying complex concepts to one another. A picture is worth a thousand words? Most photographers want to make pictures that people can talk about.

In the same way, when you write about your photography, you are communicating with your self, and the work becomes a third party. (I believe the work needs to have “a life of its own”.)

Writing makes the creative process easier to understand; ideas become more clear and concise. And you may even learn new things about yourself.

Writing while shooting in the field or studio can really energize a session. Writing about your work at other times, such as during editing or after waking from sleep, creates stronger connections in your mind and allows you to more quickly generate ideas.

The real point of writing is to learn to think about your photography more frequently and in ever-expanding ways. Actively participate in the creative process; be the director. Integrate writing into your photography and I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the effects on your photography.