The Shared Language of Writing & Photography

There is a ton of overlap in the language that we use to talk about writing and photography (and, now that I think about it, the word photography itself means, in essence, “writing with light”).

When you write a blog entry, you are creating a snapshot. You carefully frame your subject, hoping to achieve just the right focus, tone, and clarity. Then you edit it until it’s perfect.

  • Focus: A good photographer cuts out – or blurs – anything that might clutter the photograph and take the “reader’s” eye away from the primary subject of the photo. I have many subtle tricks  and techniques to accomplish this that most non-photographers don’t know about. Whatever I want the viewer to focus on is in crisp, sharp focus. Everything else is either blurred or cut out of the frame. The same is true with good writing. Even a single word that doesn’t contribute to the primary subject of the piece should be changed or removed.
  • Tone: A photo with warm yellows and reds usually creates a comfortable, relaxed feeling. A photo with cool blues creates a more professional, clinical, or formal feeling. Similarly, your writing can incorporate slang, contractions, or intentional grammatical errors to give it a comfortable, relaxed, spoken feel. Or it can incorporate industry jargon, pristine grammar, and formal titles to give it a more professional, polished, distant feeling.
  • Editing: Every great photo that you see has been edited. Just like the great books of the world were written by the sweat and blood of the authors, the great photos of the world were not simply snapped and printed. They were created. Manipulated. Edited. Changed. Formed into something that matches the photographer’s vision.

What draws the eye?

Here’s what I mean. Below is a “before and after” version of the same photo. The first picture is the original capture. It’s crooked, and the eye is drawn mostly to the lower middle section of the photo. The subject’s face is almost the last place the viewer looks.

However, with some editing, I have reframed the subject. Added some brightness and warmth to him, while also darkening, blurring, and cooling the background. Now where is the eye drawn? If I’ve done my job, the viewer’s eye is drawn to the subject’s face, and more specifically, his eyes.

Click the photo to see it full size:

The glories of Lightroom: Before & After

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