Friday, April 16, 2010

What photography has taught me about writing

Otherwise known as Footloose and Fancy-free Friday.


I have been thoroughly enjoying my photography class this semester.  *sniff* The semester is almost over and I will no longer have access to the printing and film processing facilities.  *sniff*

As I've worked on my final project for this class I've begun to discover some things about my voice as a photographer.

1- I have a very clean aesthetic.  It's sparse.  But it's interesting.  My final project has been photographing headstones.  I was out shooting yesterday and I noticed something.  The headstones I'm drawn to most are the ones that tell an interesting story in either the shape of the stone itself or in what's left (or not left) at the grave.  But most of the pictures are just the stone.  There's grass around it, obviously, but it's just the stone. If there's something by the stone that casts a cool shadow, great.  But at most I allow three grave decorations in the shot.  (As a general rule.)

2- I'm drawn to the stones that have a story in them.  The piece I submitted to the art show last week is of a line of stones that all had the same red flowers on them.  I took the picture first.  Then I looked at the individual stones.  Different birth dates.  Same death date.  Five stones.  There's a story there.  There's a story in the ones that say their rank in the military and which war they served in.  There's a story in the ones that only have a single date.  There's a story everywhere, but the stones that give some hint of that story are more interesting.

So, what has this taught me about my writing?

1- I'm a spare describer.  Every once in a while I'll break away from that, but for the most part my descriptions are very bare bones.  I have a clean voice in my writing, just like in photography.

2- In the first draft of my current WiP, I am finding myself leaving many characters by the roadside as the story progresses.  Their stories aren't interesting because I have no hint of what it might be.  Granted I could fix this, but for now the story is with my MC and the two women in his life.  (But, no, it's not a romance.)  I think the story is actually stronger for it at the moment.  I'm seeing this just as I've seen it in my photography.  The story has to be interesting to more than just myself.

Thanks for stopping by to read my ramblings.  I'll be away much of the day but I'll respond to comments as best as I am able.  Hope you all have a great weekend.


  1. what a great comparision! i love it. i, too, am very interested in the story of the 5 stones with the same death date. sounds like a story in the works...

  2. I love when you discover things about yourself in unexpected ways. Very cool. You should post some of your favorite pics from this semester!

  3. The best kind of writing gives you enough information, and lets you interpret the rest. Spare is a good word.

  4. It's great to make those kind of discoveries about yourself and your writing and photography. Those headstone pictures sound really interesting.

  5. Oh! How fun! I love looking at the dates and info on headstones. The older, the better. I love imagining what the people may have looked or lived like.

    I totally agree that you should post some of your pics. Very cool!!

  6. I think taking pictures like you do might help take your descriptions in stories to another level, just like the pictures. I never thought about it that way before. I tend to struggle with descriptions and have to force them out. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Interesting comparison--tells you something about yourself, I'm sure!

    I think description is tricky--too much is distracting, too little can be dry, but the right amount fuels the story better than any inner monologue can.

  8. I really like how you have compared your photography with your writing. And how you found that the way you do photography is reflective of the way you do your writing. My photos tend to be off centre with horizons and bridges not running straight lines. Now I'm asking myself if I do that in my writing too! I also would enjoy seeing your tombstone pictures.

  9. Great post. As a photographer, I enjoy doing close ups, which is probably why I focus more on those in my writing than describing the setting as a whole. It's amazing how much writing and photography have in common.

    LOL. I work hard to make sure my photos are free from unwanted clutter. Now I'm learning to do the same with my writing. ;)


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