People often ask me how I got into photography, and the truth is that until now I have never really been able to come up with a perfectly straight answer. I have found that that I love photography for the exact same reason I love writing: it is an outlet of my vision of the world. I often feel that I see the world though different eyes than most people, and love how in both writing and photography I can express how the world looks to me. Upon further examination it becomes evident that photography and writing have a whole lot in common. Even beyond the nature comparison of the arts, photography and writing really are one in the same.
A truly great photo, or an interesting article, draws attention because of the composition of the material. How uninteresting would reading be if every single piece of literature, fiction or non, was written in the same script? In the same sense how boring would it be to look at photos if all were laden with the same subject matter placed in the centre of the image? A good composition to either a photo or an article provides the framework for an interesting subject.
The angle one takes in writing an article or taking a photograph is the second key element to creating an interesting piece. In travel photography we call the typical tourist snapshot as the “walk-up shot,” however this term could also be used for travel writing. Articles written in a superficial way are boring because they have been done before, just like a photo taken from eye level of a popular subject is bland. Really interesting articles are ones where the author has gone into an in depth examination to find the most exciting angle to write about. In photography a great photographer works the subject from top to bottom looking for the most interesting angle of a subject. Even the most normal subject, like an apple, has hundreds of different angles to it.
Shooting a photo in the right light makes all the difference to a photograph as it gives the viewer a mood to sense. In writing it is the same thing. If a writer puts together a piece in a neutral light the outcome of the article will be bland and uninspiring. However, if the author chooses to portray a light, via a mood in their writing, the piece will likely evoke powerful emotion in its reader. Pushing a little further to discover interesting light makes all the difference to a writer or a photographer.
Aperture and Focus
As is the case in writing, a photographer chooses where the focus of their image will be in order to draw the eye of the viewer to the subject. Maybe more importantly a photographer also chooses which part of the image to blur. Trying to encapsulate everything, either in writing or photography, simply creates a busy and messy subject to the particular piece of work. Having too many elements in play only creates a confused viewer that will be easily distracted and stray away from the message you are trying to portray through your art.
If you’re a writer trying to get into the photography side more, or vice versa, the transition can be simple if you just translate your skills directly to the other art form. If you’re struggling to write an article on a certain subject think to how you would photograph it. As a writer, think about what makes your favourite images powerful. What scene would you place your subject in? What light would you capture it in? And, most importantly, what emotion would you try to create with your image?