Saturday, 9 May 2009

On Writing & Photographing

In his Talking Photography, Frank Van Riper also refers to Stephen King's On Writing, a book that he calls "an insightful, plainspoken, and thoroughly enjoyable book on photography". By this he means that what King says about writing could just as well be said about photographing. For instance: King advises fledgling writers to read voraciously for reading "is the creative center of a writer's life." Van Riper comments: "I would say here that looking at, studying, and absorbing good photography serves the same purpose for a beginning photographer. That is because learning the components of a good image - composition, lighting, gesture - and seeing those elements used differently over and over by different masters, makes it easier for a person to achieve the same end on his or her own over time. And there is simply not alternative to this, no shortcut."

Van Riper also points out that "nowhere in his book does King have anything to say about 'equipment'. From my own conversations with him I know that he writes on everything from a computer to the back of napkins. Keep this in mind the next time you are tempted to think that your creative output would be doubled if you just spent the rent money on a better camera. Better you should spend a fraction of that total on a few more photography books so you can study the images therein to better use the camera you already have." Good advice, I'd say.

Frank Van Riper
Talking Photography
Viewpoints on the Art, Craft and Business
Allworth Press, New York

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