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You might think that an image is worth a thousand words. Perhaps you may consider yourself more visual than eloquent? Moreover, you may merely think that writing and photography have nothing to do with each other? However, they are more related than you think. Whether it is to unblock your creativity or to propel your career, writing exercises can improve your photography.
Are you feeling out of ideas for your photographic projects or stuck on the same photo-cliches? This is very common amongst photographers both amateur and professional. Often everyday life clutters our brain, leaving little room for creative thoughts.
Something you can do to open the way to more productive and original thinking is to write first thing in the morning. Write as much as you can without thinking about it. I don’t want to set a limit because we all have different needs, problems and time constraints. What I do advise is that you start writing whatever comes into your head. Don’t filter it. Keep going until it feels difficult because that’s when the clutter ends and the creativity begins.
Let’s face it, being a photographer is appealing and so people want to know more. Often when you introduce yourself as a photographer, you get asked what type of photography do you do. The question I ask you is: do you know how to reply? Any great photographer has a clear trajectory and a recognizable style. Therefore you need to define yours to become ‘great.’
Defining your style is easier to do it if you have been doing photography for a while. However, you can also do it as an aspirational exercise. Go through your images and find the best ones. Also, find the ones that you enjoyed making the most and see what connects them.
Now try writing an Artist Statement. Even if you don’t do art photography write a piece of text that explains who you are. Put your vision and what separates you from any other photographer into words. This text can be a concept, your approach to a particular topic or an aesthetic style. Having it written down in a concise paragraph helps you understand who you are and you build up from there.
If you’ve been in the photography business for a while, you might have noticed that the traditional CV is challenging to apply to your trajectory. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or don’t need to put your work experience down in writing. One way of doing this is to write a biographic text that both helps you find jobs within your field, and understand your strengths.
You can try starting with a regular CV, which will most likely be kilometers long! As photographers, we have many different clients. Sometimes you do different types of photography according to the jobs you can get rather than your specialty. You may have dipped into survival jobs that are only vaguely related to photography but write them all down. Now start putting them into groups. For example, if you were hired to do your cousin’s wedding and the birthday party of your neighbor’s kid put them under Event Photography. If you photograph events of the bar next door for their Facebook page, put them under Social Networks Content, and so on.
From bullet points, turn this into a more in-depth text. Once you have that, it gets easier to tell a story – your story. Like any narrative, it has to be coherent, so make sure everything you put in there has a reason to be there. Leave out any day jobs you did to pay the bills that don’t fit into this career path. Finally, try to show evolution. How you’ve grown professionally and what you’ve learned from it.
I hope you find these exercises as useful as I have. It’s not easy to evaluate yourself, and your work. Feel free to ask for someone else’s opinion regarding what you think is your style, as they might have seen something in your work that you missed. On the other hand, I recommend you don’t show the morning writings to anybody. If you know people will see them, you will start to curate and maybe even censor them. So, for that one just let go and enjoy!