Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Writing With Light


I've been thinking recently about one of my other passions--photography--and how it's actually born out of the same need to express the world around me, only using a different tool to tell the story.
I took this picture this morning. It's the first time in a long time I was moved to shoot something just for the hell of it. After having a photography business, I kindof lost the urge to use it as an art form. But, this morning the sky was this certain shade of chalk-dust pink and everything was so still, peaceful and full of promise. The best part was this dump truck on the hill. One, because I love dump trucks (don't ask) and two because it symbolized for me man's ability to change his environment, to change the landscape of the world...and it sat there on the hill majestically, patiently as the sun rose to start a new day.
Now, someone else might look at this and say, "You know, that would have been a great picture if that stupid truck wasn't in the way."
And so you have it. I took the picture with the truck in it because I like the perspective of this story. As writers we do the same thing. Each scene is a snapshot of the story we want to tell. Just like a photograph, we pick a viewpoint, we frame the shot--deciding what details should be in it and what should be cropped out--we pick a point of focus, depth of field, etc. It's all the same.
In one of my photography classes, the instructor told us to go to the park and take a picture of a bench. "Get the first couple of shots out of the way," he said. Then change your perspective: lay on the ground, climb a tree, change the angle you're shooting from in as many different ways as you can think of. Don't just think of it as a bench, wait for the lighting to change, shoot just one leg with the shadow, use the macro lens to shoot the dirt embedded in the grain of wood. I love the macro lens by the way, which is a very telling thing for my writing...digging out the smallest detail of the story gets me high.
So, I'm going to try to remind myself to do this while writing: get the story out of the way and then look at it from a different angle, change the focus, find the hidden beauty and the darkest secrets. I believe this is where the deeper meaning of the tale lives.

2 comments:

Christian said...

There are things that I've heard my entire life, but for some reason, it isn't until I read them at a specific place and time that they finally click.

As writers we do the same thing. Each scene is a snapshot of the story we want to tell. Just like a photograph, we pick a viewpoint, we frame the shot--deciding what details should be in it and what should be cropped out--we pick a point of focus, depth of field, etc.

It wasn't until I read this in your blog that it made perfect sense to me...put it in a whole new and understandable frame of reference.

I've always been fascinated with photography, and to date it's still the most inspirational art form for me. I flirted with the idea of becoming a photographer once upon a time...even have the old equipment somewhere in a closet. Your words here make me want to drag it out, dust it off, and give it another try.

Shannon said...

Oh, you should! Photography is a great "quick fix" when the need to create strikes. It's like instant gratification. Lots of fun, too. I did notice that when I was shooting alot I was more aware of my environment, always on the lookout for a shot that could tell a story. So, I think its good practice for writing, too.