I went to a writers' conference last Saturday not really knowing what to expect. I knew who the speakers were and their topics, but I didn't know what I'd get out of it in terms of me being a photographer who wanted to learn more about a field I really know nothing about.
You see, I have a couple photo projects I'd like to add words to, with the potential of publishing a book or two in the next year or two. This would be nonfiction material, so I won't be the next Danielle Steele or Stephen King.
I heard many things at the conference where photography could have easily been the topic instead of writing. I suppose to get better at anything, a lot of the same ideas apply. These are all quotes or paraphrased quotes from the variety of authors at the conference. Most of them were during a panel discussion, so I didn't attribute the quotes to a particular person in my notes.
Read as a writer, not just as a reader.
Write a book that you want to read.
Allow yourself the freedom to screw up.
Get those ideas on paper and keep going, even if it starts out as crap.
All of these ideas pertain equally to photography. It shouldn't have surprised me that the mental side of writing is so similar to photography, and I imagine any artistic endeavor.
Take that first quote about reading as a writer. I can't look at a photograph or a movie without looking at how color, composition, and lighting were used and their effect on the scene. Not that I don't enjoy looking, but I probably look at photographs and movies from an additional technical and compositional view. I bought a movie on DVD once simply because of the lighting and choice of lens was so beautifully incorporated into the film. (It was The American, by the way. And yes, it had George Clooney in it.)
That second quote, I can't tell you how many times I've been told to photograph what I love. That's why there are so many flower photographs in my portfolio. And often I just fall in love with how the light is interacting with the subject matter, any subject. Both of the photos in this blog post are examples of that. I adore about anything that is back lit (top photo). And the harsh shadow from the pen below really works for me as an element in the photograph. Besides the pen, written words, and lined paper, it's almost a fourth element to the image. It would be a boring photograph if that shadow was taken away. I intentionally positioned the pad upside down so that the written words weren't the dominant element in the image. (And the inclusion of the little loop at the very bottom, likely from the letter "g" or "y", was intentional as well.)
I hope your take away from all this is to keep at your art form—photography, writing, woodwork, painting, whatever truly warms your heart. If you love it, keep doing it. And don't compare yourself to others. (That's another common phrase.)
For anyone interested for next year, the writers' conference I attended was the Sinclair Lewis Writers' Conference. It's been held annually since the 1990's, and about 10-20% of the attendees have attended every single year. That says something positive, in my opinion.
Always know that if you ever have any questions, I love to get email.