President’s Message July 23

Photography—a word derived from the Greek terms phos (light) and graphe (writing or drawing)—is, by definition, a means of “writing with light.”

Photography and writing seem to be the antithesis of each, but in fact, they have an inherent relationship. In fact, they need each other. 

Photography is a visual medium where no words, or very few words are needed to explain as the image explains itself.  Writing is the exact opposite. It uses narrative to tell a story and create an image or idea in your mind. 

One of the things that struck me about our blog is that some of our photographers are also excellent writers. I think the inherent relationship is that they are both very creative artforms and I think if people are creative in one area, they are creative in multiple areas. I have read some amazing articles written by our members on the blog.

As Pål Henrik Ekern points out. “The written word helps provide a context, giving viewers an indication of direction. This helps to open up the works, allowing us to ‘read’ the photos and understand what is the photographer is saying. As a photographer, one needs to be very aware of how to use a text. It gives the viewer an idea of how a project is intended to be perceived. Photography is an open medium, and text can help set the parameters for a story told through pictures”.

However, Photography and writing go much deeper than explaining to your audience what you are shooting. For Example:

They both use grammar – With writing it’s using nouns, verbs, punctuation, and sentence structure. In Photography it’s knowing your controls. Shutter, aperture, depth of field and how your camera takes a photo.

Each author has a style – Each author has a unique voice they add to their work. Each author has their own way of adding life to the words. Each has a unique tone or style to create a pleasing rhythmic to the prose they use.

Each photographer also has a unique tone or style. We’ve all seen our friends’ photos at Norway House during our Members Nights and know immediately who’s it is without knowing the name. Their stylistic choices might be about colours, composition, or lighting choices, but we know their style. They add life and beauty through their stylistic quirks.

Each tells a story, but in a different way. The writer must tell a story that has a special something. Something that draws the reader in. Something that lifts the words off the page. It starts with planning the setting and scene. To get the story in the mind before writing a single word.

The photographer does the same thing. He sees the image before he takes it. He/she plans it out and sees the story before hand. He takes photos from every angle and using different lighting. And just like a writer he must edit, edit, edit until he/she is happy.

The thing I like about this blog the club has created is it will satisfy that creative urge we all have as photographers and unleash the writing potential some of us have. The blog has no bounds. Put as many photos and videos as you like and write as much as you want. Unleash your creative spirt.

I think some of you want to submit photos to the blog but are daunted by the thought of writing a narrative. I strongly urge our photographers who have not written before to sit down one day with a blank Word document and start writing and you will surprise yourself. Before long the words just appear on the page like magic. Our skilled blog team will help you with your narrative so it will read well. We will give you guidance and support.

I suggest any serious photographer read Writing about Photography. Published by Duke University.

My challenge to the membership is to find you favourite photo and write an essay about it. Tell us why you like it, what is unique about it, and what you did to capture it. Use Writing about Photography as a guide starting on page 2 and answer those 35 or so questions about your photograph. It will be a tremendous help to making you a better photographer, and a writer! Copy those pages and keep them with you.

This doesn’t have to be by the advanced photographers in the club. It can be by the new novices in the club also. It will give an extra satisfying dimension to your art. Give it a try and you might surprise yourself. Nobody will judge you.

I am looking forward to what you are going to post on the blog.

If you have any questions or concerns about our club, my door is always open.

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