It only takes something to write with to learn a lot about photography and yourself in a little time. It doesn’t matter whether you use pen and paper or PDA. It doesn’t matter whether you finish sentences, spell correctly, or write legibly. Just write. Don’t just talk, using audio recordings, unless you transcribe them later. You need to see relationships – in writing.
One of the assignments I often give my workshop participants on location is to note your process. “First I do this. Then I do this. Next I … etc.” Most don’t follow through. They quickly fall into old habits and return to photographing the way they usually do, without finishing the assignment, without learning. So, to finish the assignment, they have to fill in their lists after they photograph. Then they don’t piece things together in the same way. They miss some things. They forget other things. One of the benefits of noting your process is that things that you ordinarily take for granted or weren’t aware of suddenly become clearer to you.
I do the assignment with my students. (Yes, I do the exercises I assign too.) They’re always amazed at how full my pages of notes are and how many pages I create in a short time. This comes with practice. And it comes with sharing your notes with other people. When you hear each other’s lists, you’ll find other people notice things you don’t. Both the similarities and differences you share with others can be revealing.
I find I write the same things down time and time again. This has lead me to create a master process list, which I copy and modify (add to or subtract from) on location. There are always new things. Are there new things because I noticed more? Why? Are there new things because I’m in a new environment? Why? Are there new things because I decided to try something new? Why? These are important questions that can unlock a new ways of looking, thinking, and working, now and in the future. Keep asking them.
Because I write … I’m clearer about what works and what doesn’t. I’ve streamlined my systems. I have a better understanding of how and why I work. I have dozens of new ideas to try. This is a great thing to do when you first start making photographs after a break or in a new place.
There are many more benefits to noting your process. With practice you won’t need to take as many notes as you do when you first try this, you’ll simply keep a running dialog in your head and note only the most important things or the things that are different. Do make notes. Writing reveals. Writing brings more choices. Writing leads to clear thinking. Writing leads to clear seeing.
Find more online resources in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more creative techniques in my Illuminating Creativity workshops.
I’m getting ready for my White Sands workshop this coming weekend. Reviewing my sketches and writings from previous trips, I got more ideas. After many trips to White Sands, I thought I knew exactly what I needed to do but now I’m sure there’s more. So I’ll write and sketch more on the way there, while I’m there, and afterward.
If every pictures tells a Story …
Writing can help clarify your story.
You can read 8 different types of statements on White Sands in my free PDF.
Find out more about my White Sands workshop here.
Stay tuned for live blog posts during the workshop!
You can read my writings from three separate voyages to Antarctica.
The first statement was written midway through the trip to help me focus.
The second statement was written at the end of the trip to clarify my practice.
The third statement was written as a daily journal for live blog posts.
Three different trips. Three different kinds of writing. One evolving process.
Writing has helped my creative process. How can writing help yours?
Find out about my exhibit here.
Stay tuned daily for more resources.
Get priority status in my Antarctica 2011 workshop.
How many times have you been frustrated by the feedback you get and give?
Often it’s too simple.
“I like it.”
“I don’t like it.”
But you want more.
If you knew more you could improve more.
So, go further!
Whenever you’re looking at images ask yourself for more with one simple word. “Why?”
You many be surprised how hard it is to put your thoughts and feelings into words.
You’ll find out some really interesting things.
Later, start asking others, “Why?”
You’ll get some really interesting answers.
Check out 12 books I recommend on critical thinking in photography here.
Get feedback in my workshops.
Writing is an integral part of my creative process. First, writing helps me clarify my thoughts and feelings about my work. Then, it helps me communicate about it to others.
Find out how writing can help you in my free Creativity PDFs.
I’ve written three new Artist’s Statements this summer …
The World is Speaking
You can read them here.
You can hear me speak about my new work in person at 2 pm during my Annual Exhibit 8/2-3.
Order your copy of my new Antarctica book here.
Stay tuned for more content from this weekend with multiple posts each day.
New images will be posted tonight!
It’s a privilege to be invited to guest post on Scott Kelby’s blog. Vincent Versace and Joe McNally contributed excellent first and second guest Wednesday installments. Mine’s the third.
I’m hoping guest blogging becomes an industry trend. I’ve already got several invites out to select colleagues who will join me here on my blog and I’ll join them on theirs! So be on the look out for more guest blogging!
The title of my guest post is Making the Visual Verbal. Do you think pictures should be seen and not heard? If so, you’re half right and half wrong. Commentary is no substitute for an image. Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words. But, there are times and places for commenting on images. In fact, often words and pictures can complement each other synergistically to create a total effect greater than the sum of the parts. And, there are many different ways of making useful comments. Find out how and when in this essay.
Read the full post on Scott Kelby’s blog Photoshop Insider.
Download my related PDF on making Artists Statements here.
Read many of my Artist Statements here.
Hear me talk about my work here.
Remember to set up your RSS feed for automatic alerts on new posts for both Scott Kelby’s and John Paul Caponigro’s blog.