The Camera, A Compulsory Tool
By Annette Rey
Do you need to add dimension to your writing? Is your writing lacking color? Do you feel it needs enrichment? Is your brain a little blank when you are searching for the right word to describe something? Do you have copyright fears about using internet pictures?
Can such a simple solution as carrying (and using) a camera really be the answer to resolve some of your concerns? Follow through on the dozen reasons below. You won’t be sorry you did.
Though carrying a camera and my purse seems a little of a burden, and I feel like a keg-carrying dog, I’ve gotten used to it and the payoff makes up for any inconvenience.
One: Are you stalled for a subject about which to write? Go out anywhere and start snapping photos. If you incorporate this practice into your writing life, I guarantee a subject will present itself.
Two: Do you have an idea in mind already? Go out anywhere and start snapping photos that even remotely connect to that idea. You’re going to write about a rural murder? Safely photograph rocky cliffs beside a highway, a deep woods, a river bank, a remote cottage, a waterfall, a lonely road, a dead corpse of an animal on the side of the road…
Does your story line occur in the inner city? Photograph skyscrapers from all angles, even going in them and looking down and across the city. Shoot a conglomeration of street signs, traffic-filled streets, clogged subway platforms, graffiti, store fronts, litter-strewn areas…
Three: A writer’s major tool has to be his camera. You can write all you want from your head, but a visual prompt gives you words on a platter. What writer wouldn’t want that?
Four: Photos are rich in detail. You can peruse them at your will at home when your mind is quieter and your body is protected from the weather. They are a permanent record of a target you gave brief attention at the time. One shot can become a mine of information. And so, the miracle happens – the birth of words – as you describe elements in the photo you hadn’t noticed before. What’s that? An eagle is perched high in a tree, watching you, when you were focusing your lens on the woods and thought you were alone. This observation, and words you put to it, can lead to an ominous atmosphere you insert into your story. Or it might be the genesis of a light and airy mood, the rhythm of nature, the majesty of the microcosm.
Five: Photos help you enlarge on an idea, begin a new thought, extract color. They make you go deep into description. This not only helps your current article and story writing, the practice continues to teach you how to observe, and sharpens your skills for translating pictures into words.
Six: Writers have enough to worry about. If you make and publish your own photos, they are your property. You will never have to worry about attribution or copyright infringement or being sued for using another’s photo.
Seven: Photograph anything. Build a repository of photos. Catalog your photos into folders on your desktop. You never know what subject matter you will be writing about in the future.
Eight: Make your photos multi-use. That is, a picture of a stop sign can be placed as an alert in an article about writing mistakes. The same photo can be used as an object of philosophical discussion, representing so many restrictions and assaults on our psyches in a helter-skelter world. And stop can just be a gentle sign for you to take a breather from your writing, to reenergize.
Nine: Photos add color and enrich your website. They give visuals and interest to your readers.
Ten: The practice of looking for objects to photograph exercises your mind to think in different ways. Get down close and do an abstract shot. Photograph a crowd without capturing one person’s face. Blur a shot. Publish a photo upside-down.
Eleven: Your photo library becomes very valuable when you need to send a photo along with your article for publication. Often an additional amount of money will be paid to you if a photo accompanies your submission.
Twelve: And to mention one of the most important facts about using your camera – you have to be on your feet for this activity. You are changing your environment with creative intent and you are giving your body physical exercise. Many are the deep knee bends I have done to get an abstract shot of a subject in my lens.
The next time you go to the beauty shop or the monster truck rally, snap, snap, snap. It’s all writer’s fodder.