Next week, on October 20th, we have the opportunity to celebrate the beauty and power of writing through the National Day on Writing–an initiative supported by NCTE and the National Writing Project. For me, writing and photography have much in common. They are ways to compose my understanding of the world.
Sometimes it is all about paying attention to the world around me, leaning in, and looking my surroundings in the eye. It might result in the magic of an image of a seagull looking closely…at me! I find myself wondering about how it feels to float on an air current, about the social life of seagulls, about where seagulls sleep and nest. And that gets me thinking about my life and dreams and how to keep them aloft.
Both writing and photography help me appreciate my world and experiences more deeply. Documenting the beauty around me keeps me paying attention to the subtle changes in seasons, moods, colors, weather, and more. They force me out of my usual routines as I pull off the freeway on my way home to spend a few minutes gazing at the vibrant oranges of the setting sun. I slow down and breathe…and am grateful for the life I have.
I write with words and pictures to play. Just like the perfect word can transform an idea in an essay, a filter or app can transform an image in a photo. My latest favorite app has been Prisma, it applies some formula from art (like the Scream by Munsch) that recolors your photograph in interesting ways. I used it the other day on this photo of a lifeguard tower…and I love the results!
My camera and pen help me see the ordinary in new ways. Even though I see this tree in my front yard several times a day every day, through the lens of my camera I notice the blue of the sky, the lone blossom (blooming in the wrong season), the moon or the sun peeking through… The opportunity to re-vision the ordinary changes my perspective and opens up new possibilities.
Documenting learning is another reason why I write and photograph. I love to capture my students at work, and it’s especially helpful to have that documentation to help me recall the details for blog posts or articles. This week my students were designing structures out of marshmallows and toothpicks to withstand an earthquake. After testing their design on a Jello earthquake, they tried additional iterations based on the feedback from the test.
Composing gets me to pay attention to framing, light, structure…all of those choices I make as I write and photograph. I find myself looking for the way light plays with color…and I love the way the late afternoon sun shines on my dining room table. I find myself buying flowers for the table just to watch the sun play with them in the afternoon.
The word photography means writing with light…and I do love to write with light! When I head out with my camera I search for images that provoke my thinking, that please my eye, that inspire me to write and share. I also study my own images in order to improve them, to understand better the angles and light and framing that “work” and those that aren’t quite what I hoped for. I do go back to familiar places again and again with camera in hand, to revise and re-envision, to gain understanding and make meaning of the world I inhabit.
So, why do you write…with light, with pencil, on the computer, with paint or yarn or fabric (or in any other media)?
You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #whyiwrite for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
Explore your own reasons for writing (with light) and share them with us this week as we join in with others celebrating the National Day on Writing. I can’t wait to see #whyiwrite through your lens!