5 Steps to Master the Photographic Writing

Photography is a form of art, which I discussed in this article. Art makes it possible to express emotions and to transmit messages. In this article, I also explained that photography is a very interesting medium because it is easy to implement. For me, photography is a form of writing that is not translated in words, but in other, more complex ways because they appeal to emotions and feelings.

This photograph of a female gelada in Ethiopia is an example of photographic writing. It is part of the collection "Portraits of Geladas".
This photograph of a female gelada in Ethiopia is an example of photographic writing. It is part of the collection "Portraits of Geladas".

Writing in Photography Happens in Five Steps

My method for developing photographic writing for the creation of interesting images is divided into five distinct parts:

  • To write well photographically, a photographer must already know what one is talking about.
  • When you want to write with photos, you have a desire to share messages or emotions that you have perceived or encountered. In short, you need experience in order to accomplish such a feat.
  • Knowing different ways in which to express oneself through photos is an asset. It is a toolbox of talents.
  • Understanding the writing and being able to express oneself uniquely is not enough to construct interesting photos. This explains the necessity of language.
  • Finally, the last step is the finalization of photos for a given project.

The first four steps revolve around the photographer. Photographs exist only in a digital form which only he can view and evaluate.

The fifth step concerns the viewers. From the moment of printing for exhibition, the photographs exist physically. It is from this stage that dialogue between the author-photographer and the viewer begins to transpire.

This is the method I use for my photo projects. Detailing each part would be much too long as part of a blog. During the photo workshops that I organize, I can afford to detail the different points and adapt to each photographer’s personality.

A Short Story on the Role of Books

I have been out of society for a few weeks to finalize several contracts. I left my adopted home in Texas for three months. This trip will be long so that I might immerse myself in my own secret universe to arouse the energy necessary to achieve contracts of fine quality.

I am an avid reader. I enjoy writing, as well as reading from authors who know how to entice me to travel far from everyday worries. Since I travel more than six months in a year, my tablet with its subscription to digital libraries has become a source of escape over time. But even these interesting digital books do not give me the pleasure of touching and turning pages. This applies to my own photographs as well. They only exist when I feel the print in my hands. Before this final stage, they are only images—not photographs.

The place where I live when I come to France is a family location. One of the rooms houses my office. A huge library stands proudly along one of the walls, containing nearly all the memories of my departure for a new life in the United States. The shelves bend under the weight of the thousands of books I had read before I left France. These printed books are full of the pleasant times, when I escaped by greedily turning pages of books written by Marcel Pagnol, Jean D'Ormesson, Isaac Asimov, and the countless others whose accomplishments laid the foundation to what I have become.

This morning, I wanted to experience the special smell of paper. I wanted to go through the words printed with black ink. The choice is difficult. My fingers run along the shelves in search of a novel. I do not want to read poetry or essays. I want a novel that will make me escape into dreams of travel.

Suddenly, Terre des hommes written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry emerges. It is obvious which choice I should make. I sit in one of the chairs in the office. With time, the pages have yellowed. How long will they last? They resemble my memories, slowly disappearing little by little until they will one day be forgotten.

"The earth teaches us more about us than all books." I remember. This first sentence of the novel was a trigger of my passion for nature. It remains obvious to me, even today. Even if I had forgotten it textually, the general idea continues to guide my steps and my passions in every passing day. Gently fingering the pages, I plunge into the story. I remember avidly reading this book in 1989, when I was leaving university with my engineering degree in my pocket. This book was special to me then. I liked its style. I memorized the first sentence. However, the content seemed distant from my reality. Today, with a little experience and a vast perspective on life and humanity, I can finally measure the scope of words written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Maybe it's the same for photography? With experience, I realized that it takes time. One must actually live life so that he can succeed in creating interesting photographs.

I have finally come to understand that photography is an art that must be used with caution, especially since it is a major art through which I can express myself. I hope that one day I will find a way to do so entirely with photography. Currently, I manage to express a certain emotion or state of the soul, although it occurs sporadically. I really hope that a constant level of perfection is attained one day before my last breath. Patience can be so difficult.

The question that plagues me every day is how some writers and creators quickly found their style and a way of expressing what was laying on their heart. To me, this task is insurmountable. It's not for lack of trying and working in each direction. The further I go, the more endless this search appears to be.

The Definition of Writing

Writing is defined by a system of graphic signs used to record an oral message so that it can be stored and / or transmitted.

Nevertheless, it is also a way of expressing one's thoughts through writings, sounds, and images.

If these two definitions of writing are taken in the first degree, it is possible to say that photography is a form of writing just like poetry or prose. In another article of the blog, I showed that photography is a form of expression.

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I must never lose sight of the fact that writing is simply the definition of a sequence of symbols signifying concreteness. Writing alone is not enough to convey messages or express emotions. A language is necessary to organize the writing and accurately express the author.

Why Few Photographs Are Interesting

In this case, why are so few interesting photographs produced every day in the world? I have two possible answers to this question.

The first answer is that most photographers only reproduce what others have captured. Asking no questions, they do not wonder why a photograph was created or what else was taking place in the scene. Holding a camera is an important act that few photographers understand. When you take a camera into your own hands, you are using a tool that will allow a person to express one or more emotions that convey a message.

Cameras, whether they are real cameras or embedded in a mobile phone, have become everyday objects. Most people use them as if they were using a kitchen utensil. The manufacturers’ smooth design and clever marketing cause most photographers to forget what it is they are actually doing when shooting a scene.

Today, cameras are used to make selfies, or to testify whether we were present on the scene of a given event, or to show that we have the means to vacation where others may not. What an emptiness! This intellectual vacuum perpetually annoys me.

Most photographers forget that what they have in their hands is an extraordinary tool for sharing emotions, conveying messages, and revealing a vision to the world.

Be humble, patient, constant, persevering, and persistent because the road to excellence is long.


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