Manten|Photography | Am I A Photographer Who Writes, Or A Writer Who Takes Pictures?

Am I A Photographer Who Writes, Or A Writer Who Takes Pictures?

August 02, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Why it is easier for me to create stories to images, than creating images for stories


panorama of a rock formation near Cannon Beach, OregonCannon Beach Oregon, 2005panorama of a rock formation near Cannon Beach, Oregon

In my post Why I Combine Photography With Stories, I explained why I use storytelling techniques to share my fine art images with the public.


As mentioned in that post: it is my artistic vision, triggered by a quote from Anais Ninthat my role as a photographer is to show and share what we usually do not see.


Reviewing that blog post, however, made me realize that it might not be always clear for my viewers and readers what my main interest and focus is: being a photographer, or being a writer.


I love to observe the world around me and create beautiful images based on the impressions I get.


Most of the time I let these images tell their own stories.


Sometimes, however, I use stories to share what I see in the images I create and to invite the viewer to see the same, to join me on a journey of discovery.


In those cases, it can happen that the moment I push the shutter release button I already know what story I am going to write.


More often, I look at an existing image and see a new or different story emerge.


In some cases, however, I work on projects where I start with the story in mind and then need to create images that support the story. And to be honest: I am often struggling with these projects.


For me, it is easier to see a scene and it’s sometimes hidden message, or to look at an existing photograph and see a new story, than creating images that support a pre-existing story or message.


It is not that I don’t know what I want to tell and share, or that I don’t know what type of images I need to support the written story. The challenge, for me, working this way, is that having the story already in my mind creates restrictions regarding the subject, type, and the number of images to create.


I don’t really know why this is.


Maybe working from a pre-conceived story is too restrictive for my visual mind? Maybe I’m just too lazy to work hard finding scenes and images to an existing story? Maybe I’m too easily bored with an existing story? Maybe in my mind, the story is complete once the words are added to it, and I don’t see a need to then create images to support the story?


Although it is not really clear to me why it is easier for me to create stories to images than creating images for stories, it makes me realize once again why I create images at all: not primarily for the stories, they tell, but just because they are beautiful. And although there is a real danger here to start a ‘chicken or egg’ discussion, I know that for me creating beautiful images is the real reason I make photographs; stories are just the icing on the cake.


Yes, I am a photographer first, and a writer second.


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