Science of Writing: Photography and Writing DO Click

by Corrie Thompson

As writers, I’m sure we all understand obsessing over stories, the desire of contrast and conflict within each work of art. We all like to create this conflict as writers, but sometimes gripping a pen isn’t as satisfying as holding the lens of a camera.

The result of a camera juxtaposes the result of a pen, showing how intertwined writing and photography really are. A good writer and photographer both know how to capture emotion through the click of a shutter or the clack of keys. They spend tedious amounts of time setting up the background and lighting the subject in the perfect way. There always have to be shadows: deep, dark secrets that draw the audience’s eye. The subject can’t be overexposed, the depth blown out of proportion, or so dark that you can’t see the wrinkles and creases that distinguish the subject.

The focus has to be on the subject’s eyes, or in writing through the subject’s eyes. The eyes control the emotion, aided by the colors and depth of the setting. The person behind the camera or pen has to lasso the environment and force the subject into uncomfortable positions for an outcome the subject can’t see.

The phrase “a picture speaks a thousand words” is true, and it’s up to the photographer to sort through those thousand words to create a description for the photo. This mimics the way a writer has to sort through a character’s life to best describe them. This description, for both writing and photography, has to go beyond visualization. You have to look past the colors and textures, to the raw, untapped emotion.

Titles can’t be tacked on; they have to embody this emotion and question the validity of the piece. The same emphasis of the title is important for novels, poems, and short stories. The main difference is the display when it comes to these two mediums. Poets may tap into the illustration side, using wisps of paper as canvases for letters, but generally speaking, photography requires more in depth matting.

Another similarity is all the labor put into the work of art. Writing is a collaboration of editing, grammar, and research. Photography can require the same amount of effort in different ways. The photographer has to think about lighting, aperture, shutter speed, and has to implement changes based on a personal style to figure out what will be aesthetically pleasing to the audience.

Good photographers don’t just point and shoot, and good writers don’t just type out perfection. Through hard work and keen observations they both allow the viewer to find solace in a creation of their choosing.

Corrie Thompson is a junior Professional Writing Major with a Photography Minor. She loves reading any novels and writing poetry, but also has a huge interest in the conceptual side of art.

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