Many years ago when I was a rookie freelance writer working on pure speculation, I discovered magazine article editors were much more receptive to a complete package—a well-written article plus a generous selection of good accompanying photos—and in my naiveté I thought How hard can taking pictures be?
It turned out, of course, that becoming a competent photographer is every bit as involved and difficult as learning how to write well. But, mostly through trying often and failing not quite so often, and taking hundreds of shots just to capture a dozen really good ones, I learned enough to start selling article packages regularly, even to some top magazines like The Saturday Evening Post, Reader’s Digest, Harper’s, and Yankee as my skills in both the visual and written arts improved.
I was pleasantly surprised and impressed at just how well the two crafts dovetailed. Learning how to compose technically-competent, interesting photos, for example, meant I had to start scrutinizing the world around me as never before. The subtle play of different kinds of light on people and things. Selecting that part of a scene that was most arresting. Composing and cropping to enhance a desired effect. This, in turn, soon began to influence my writing for the better. I found I could create more vivid scenes with words to give my readers impactful imaginary pictures. I was also finding that I enjoyed taking pictures as much as I did writing about people and places and events.
Who is better at capturing a characterization? A portrait painter, a sculptor, a photographer, a film maker, or a writer? All are capable of presenting emotionally moving characters in their own ways. You can easily think of excellent examples in all those disciplines. The Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s Pietà, the arresting faces of Geographic shooter Steve McCurry. Or any number of absorbing written or filmed biographies of the famous. All those forms can do it quite well.
Music, as in the backgrounding of any good movie, of course contributes emotionally.
In fact, two or more of the disciplines are often combined to powerful effect.
Over the years my enjoyment of and appreciation for just how exquisitely and inextricably woven all the artistic crafts can be has only deepened.