Writing & Curiosity in Photography

It can be a little confusing for any upcoming photographer when they’re told that if they want to create a substantial body of work, they have to learn as much as they can about the craft while being reminded that one’s “success” is not entirely dependent on how much of the technical stuff you're familiar with.

I read this article about 12 Things Students Need To Know/Study Before Graduation with a photography degree and 2 of the 12 stuck out the most.

1. Learn to Write: In addition to the growing online friendships I’ve developed, I equally have personal close friends who’ve complimented my work and who coincidently have began expressing interest in photography. They have a dSLR, they take relatively engaging photographs and they want to build an online platform to share them but there’s one statement that turns me off about their approach towards it.

“I want to have photoblog like yours but without all the writing.” I think the reason we view writing as such an intimidating process is because we don’t think we’re good at it. I’m far from being great at putting words together but it’s a skill I have deep interest in improving because I enjoy sharing insight on anything I publish by at least giving you a general sense what it was like being there with my camera.

You don’t necessarily have to write about your photographs if you have a photoblog but I like to think I’ve revealed more of myself through it. Photoblogging without writing is like being on stage displaying a slideshow of your life without any commentary to contribute to the overall story. It instills purpose and makes the presentation more meaningful if you ask me.

2. Know Something About the World besides just Photography: Sounds ludicrous but I’ve found that sitting around wondering why things are the way they are or wanting to know what certain people are like has been a huge encouragement for picking up a camera. I’m talking about being curious and having the urge to explore the answers to things people think about but rarely act upon. According to this article, some of the most prevalent advice photojournalist students receive is that “NPR rarely hires just photographers because they only think and talk about photography.”

I have friends who’ve dived head first into some of the most comprehensive photography books on Amazon and so when we’ve been out shooting together, it irks me when all they can talk about is shutter speed, f/stops, exposure and all this technical lingo. Not that I don’t understand it but I talk to myself about that stuff in my head and I pay more attention to the setting and people around me rather than obsessed about what I need to do to my camera to capture a photo. I’ve found the best and most unexpected stories by being observant of my location as oppose to my camera.

As a retail manager, being extroverted comes with the job so I have no problem walking up to people and being curious about life and their everyday doings. Of course, when you have a camera it becomes more intimidating but it’s a skill I’m working on. Talking to people, especially those from different cultures is absolutely fascinating.

From experience, I’ve found that the people who have more difficult in finding what to photograph are the ones who have no interest in anything other than their gear.

Photography and writing are completely different crafts but in a sense they’re not that different in that they both require you to have a general interest of something to make the final product meaningful while not obsessing too much about the craft itself.

As for the photographs in this post, it’s a glimpse of the first major snow storm we were hit with in New York this year and I was more interested in how people were reacting to it as oppose to the actual snow.