Photography and Writing

First – if you like Facebook groups for authors, editors, and/or any one to do with writing, here’s a fantastic one for the Author Extension Community. It’s just another way to meet more people willing to support other artists.

Second – I want to thank Sarit Yahalomi at Coffee & Books & Art for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset: “I can always appreciate a female character whose purpose is not only to look cute and pretty in the arms of her leading man but to actually show some attitude and who knows how to fight back.” Check out her entire review here.

I joined Instagram. Believe it or not, this actually has to do with my post today. I didn’t plan on talking about photography and how it has affected my writing life, but I thought sharing my surrender to Instagram was a good way to open up this little discussion that has more to do with my past than my current life. I would love it if you would join me there. I will probably (mainly) take fun photos of cats, coffee, and my writing adventures, and I hope to see your photos, too.

But what do photos have to do with writing?

I used to love photography. I still do, but I meant to say that I used to participate in photography. At one point, photography actually overcame my writing – which wasn’t a surprise, considering my father worked for Kodak for 25 years, and our house was full of one-time-use photograph machines. I used to have a beautiful camera that sadly died a number of years ago. I have been weary about getting a new one, only because I need a new laptop first, but I miss it – a lot.

I found creativity behind the lens just as I find adventures behind words today. I used to spend hours walking through empty fields and forests, imagining all of the magic that could exist in one backyard.  Below is actually a photo I took in my front yard, and – fun fact – it was used on the back cover of Minutes Before Sunset.

A part of this is now the back cover on Minutes Before Sunset.

At some point in my childhood I realized the magic I obsessed over was in the simplest of things – in the broken bottle cap or the abandoned farmhouse – because it came down to perspective. 

A farmhouse wasn’t just a barn that no one wanted – it was a mystery, a creaking doorway into the unknown. Perhaps this is why articles about abandoned places inspire me so much. They leave room for the imagination in reality rather than forcing the imagination while sitting in an empty room. It’s fresh air, so to speak.

The magic found in creating art is discovered by challenging a perspective. 

This is what photography has to do with writing – for me, it’s about how we see the world, but it’s also about trying a new hobby to enhance a talent (or taking a moment to get away from the keyboard and out of the house.) I’ve shown how I’ve used photographs in a book to keep track of writing, but there’s more to photos than simply staring at them in the same sense that reading words is different than writing words down.

The point of this – honestly – isn’t about getting you to love photography but rather sharing my experience with realizing that I might be able to further my love for writing by dabbling back in my love for photography. 

So, try it with me if you want – go back in time, remember something you used to love to do, even if it was rarely, and attempt to love it for a day again. Enjoy it like a vacation or rededicate yourself to practicing it again in 2014.

I know I will be. In fact, in the future I will be blogging about why the photo below is symbolic to my writing. If you recall, it was used as the placement photo before the cover to Seconds Before Sunrise was revealed, and there’s a very good reason for that. I’m looking forward to sharing that reasoning soon.

What does this have to do with Seconds Before Sunrise?
What does this have to do with Seconds Before Sunrise? You’re about to find out.


14 thoughts on “Photography and Writing

  1. This post strikes home, Shannon. I’ve always been in love with both writing and photography. About 20 years ago, I gave up photography and shelved my Nikon bodies and bag o’ lenses because I just had to earn a living and didn’t have time or money. When digital cameras arrived, it put the fun back.
    The best thing that happened was when a good friend recommended a new species of ‘bridge’ camera. My current $600 camera has Leica f2.8 lens that is the equivalent of a 28 to 600 on an old 35mm. This one handful actually does more than the $3000 worth of Nikon bodies and lenses in my old camera bag.
    I too love to tour abandoned places, take photos, and imagine the stories behind them.
    I’ll probably have to give Instagram a try as well. [sigh] Just what I need… another social network. [grin]
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Anthony Stevens,

      Thank you for sharing your story with photography! It was very enlightening, and I hope it helps others. I felt the same way about joining Instagram (sigh, grin.) But I’m enjoying it! Taking a moment to remember – even if I’m not taking it as seriously as I used to – is a moment that allows me to connect that much closer.

  2. Hi Shannon, great blog on what could be seen as the ‘expansion of creativity’. The muse is always there but the writer needs to keep in touch and sometimes words are not enough. I recently revived my love of making art – mostly collage and abstract painting. Years ago I was a card designer and going back to this form of expression opened something up in my writing too. I also recommend dancing! It’s safe, healthy and quite frankly I don’t think writers move enough hence the ‘stuckness; that sometimes strikes! Jill x

    1. Thank you for sharing and commenting! I really enjoyed your dancing advice. I agree – getting some physical exercise is important for everyone, but I think – between day jobs and being a writer – many writers are often always stuck at their desks without much movement. Getting and moving around is important to feel refreshed 😀

      1. I know how hard it is. We have to turn up at the page and that means sitting down and keeping still. And most of us have to earn money doing other types of work too. I just listen to the radio and wiggle around my kitchen on a Sunday morning. Going out to dance is a rare delight, especially since my clubbing days are long gone! Yet the kitchen dance sustains me somehow. And no one can see me… J x

  3. I’ve always been a fan of the photographs Eudora Welty took during the WPA. To me, her photos are the same as her writings and similar to why you like the farmhouse: seeing the story within the frame.

  4. Shannon, obviously you have the “eye” and the writing skills to back it up. Wow, you’ve accomplished a LOT in 22 years. You are your mom’s delight, to be sure, since time’s irrelevance is highlighted in important matters like Love.

  5. This is a cool perspective. For me, I have always been drawn to numerous art forms: music, art, photography, and writing. While writing is my art form, I enjoy learning about others. Even though art forms can be very different from one another, in my opinion, they can all have similarities.

  6. Great piece and I’ve noticed that as I continue to write, my love of photography grows; finding that perfect photo to compliment the story, or that photograph that inspires me to write..Our senses all working together creatively, I suppose 🙂

  7. I love photography. It was my first artistic passion and will always be the one closest to my heart. Even in writing, if i’m trying to hone my writing skills with a prompt, I find a photo prompt speaks more to me then a beginning sentence or scenario. I’ve taken to hoarding photos that “speak” to me on my Pinterest boards to use as inspiration for setting, scenes or even characters.

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