Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Writing: An Essential Photography Skill

Whether it is writer's block, enslavement at work, or an unpleasant but necessary task to be done, this funny business stock photo can tell the story.
Most photographers have a difficult time with writing, yet writing may hold the key to a photographer's future.

A Million Words On A Photography Website
I now have more than one million words on my website! So why would a photographer be excited about having so many words on his site…particularly when most of us professional photographers cry foul when art directors put copy over our images…and when we strive so mightily to create sites free from words that might distract from the aesthetic integrity of our photography? It is because this Internet thing has twisted everything around. Now one word is worth a thousand pictures (because search engines can’t “see” photos). In reality, if you want to get those gorgeous photographs seen, then your going to need words, and lots of them.

The Unseen Photograph
It was Socrates who said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  I would contend that the unseen photograph is not worth creating. So whether you are trying to make a living at photography, or sharing your vision with as many people as possible, you are going to need, and increasingly so, to turn to words (you can disregard this suggestion if you are only indulging in photography for therapeutic reasons).Words are what get your images seen.

An Important Skill For Photographers
I believe that one of the most important skills for us photographers to develop, at this point in time, is the ability to write. I am not talking about just adding key words here either, but rather having the ability to write clearly, cohesively and compellingly (I am still working on that). Having the skills to communicate effectively through writing can help with proposals, estimates, blogs, books and innumerable other endeavors that make up the world of photography. Writing certainly isn't always easy, and it takes time and effort. But the results are worth it...getting your work seen is worth it!

Stock Photography, Taking Control, and Writing
For me writing is playing a central role in my efforts to maintain a successful career in stock photography; an effort to make my photography easy to find through search engines and in doing so to supplement my agency sales and add additional revenue through a variety of photography-related avenues from imprinted gifts to print sales to online advertising. But perhaps most importantly, writing and the Internet are giving me an opportunity to take more control over my photography career. Ultimately we all have to take responsibility for our own success or failures. We owe it to ourselves to find the tools that are necessary and that work for us, and with the emergence of the Internet as the de facto vehicle for finding just about everything, well, developing writing skills is as close to a no-brainer as there is.


QT Luong said...

I always thought that one of the reasons why Galen Rowell was so successful was how remarkably articulate he was.

Microstock Posts said...

Your most "compelling" post yet John :) I discovered writing shortly after I rediscovered my passion for photography, through my blog on the stock industry. It certainly helps to increase a web presence, which in turn helps to drive sales and I need all the help I can get in that aspect :)

On another point, writing also sharpens the mind, it takes me quite some time to write one post, but I enjoy the thinking process. It's commendable that you are able to write so frequently, as I know how time consuming it can be.

Unknown said...

Great post John. And to write well it's often said you need to read well. Perhaps there's even an aesthetic here that transfers back to shooting well.

John Lund said...

Microstock Posts,

And I am finding that I really enjoy the writing as well!



John Lund said...


I have long suspected that it was my English Lit major that prepared me for creating "concept" images....



Ira Nicolai said...

I so agree with your take on a photographers writing skills.
An interesting blog, fun to read is the best marketing ever.
Combining images and words, be it poetically or journalistically, if well done it's a powerful combination.