Literature and Photography

If there is such thing as imaginative “writing” in literature, then perhaps there is also such thing as imaginative “seeing” in photography.   Only with this, we would be able to develop a good “eye” for things and study the familiar and the ordinary thing around us, and later on ponder on what these ordinary things reveal to us.

Yet both fields of photography and literature still require the ability to “see” – as if each sight before the writer’s or photographer’s eyes is a different world all through out.  With these, one can enter in a world different from the everyday, and from these, one can increase his or her own understanding of actual experiences.  Photography and literature reveal and/or create emotional truths about our naked selves.

I agree with Eudora Welty when she said that both the writer and the photographer must learn about “accuracy of the eye, about observation and about sympathy towards what is in front of you.”  With this statement, she has asserted that literature and photography have similarities with each other because of those three components.

In literature, we are taught that imagery plays a very important role in creative writing.  In fact, the poet Ezra Pound exemplified much on imagery more than anything else.  Most of the writers believe in the cliché that a picture contains a thousand words, and in special cases, one doesn’t have to tell his feelings or emotions through words, he or she could express them through visual arts especially in photography.

In literature, one must be very accurate in presenting the details in his or her literary piece.  Take for example, in creative nonfiction, a writer must choose carefully the most important details to include in his or her story, otherwise, the story would be ‘fed-up’ and boring because of two many broad details.  The ability to recollect important memories and present them in a creative way would make up an excellent literary piece.

This idea is exemplified in the story “The Little Store”. In the story, the writer Eudora Welty recounted her own experiences through presenting imagistic reminiscences when she was a child.  Because these things that she had done were memorable to her, they were presented in a very specific detailed manner.  Such words like “blackberry lady” and “watermelon man” were few descriptive examples.  but the most interesting imagistic example would be her description about the Little Store: “Licorice recently sucked in a child’s cheek, dill pickle brine that had leaked through paper sack in a fresh trail across the wooden floor, ammonia-loaded ice that had been hoisted from wet croker sacks and slammed into the icebox with its sweet butter at the door, and perhaps the smell of still untrapped mice.”  This example creates a powerful dramatic effect because it appeals to the senses.

On the other hand, photography requires the same components as literature.  One should be visually articulate on choosing the specific details of a certain matter or object best to be captured.  Anything in this world is easy to capture by the camera, but only few things in this world has the ability to make the viewers pause for a moment and ponder the elements of the story behind the photographs.  The pleasure one can find in photography is the pleasure from the idea that photography could evoke feelings to the viewers.  It is the pleasure that a certain photo elicits a certain response of emotion.

In photography certain aspects needs to be considered.  One must take into account the elements of a good photograph like size, space, texture, color, angle, and light and identify them.  Even though these elements sound technical, they should not be taken lightly because each of them constitutes a kind of language or emotion that is very crucial to photography.

A good photograph is that which we see the words circling around it.

Both literature and photography, as what Eudora Welty said, capture the (1) accuracy of the eye; (2) observation and (3) sympathy towards what is in front of you.  Accuracy of the eye is best presented in the author’s accurate and precise choice of specific details – “the particular”, rather than “the universal”. The ability of the author to discern what is only relevant in a particular idea for a story is a good test of his or her aesthetic sensibility.  In photography, this quality is exemplified if the photographer sees an object, and isolates it in a very sharp focus as if it is one unified object capable of drawing out emotions to the people who sees it.

In literature, developing a good story starts with observation of particular thing, action, image or object in nature that may embody universal qualities.  That is why most of the contemporary writers put their ideas and metaphors in concrete specific objects.  Developing a good image in photography on the other hand, starts with simple observation of seeing ordinary things around you and “seeing” them in a different light.  Photographers must see into considerations that the images should provoke people to respond into them readily.  A good photographer should observe how shape, light, color and texture convey different moods that elicit ideas into the viewers’ part.  It is also important to have technical expertise and a seemingly natural flair for good things best to be captured.

One should also “see” the object with sympathy – that is, regard it with a particular significant aesthetic value.  This goes both for literature and photography.

 

With the advent of new technology, one can already used digital cameras and avail specific electronic features from it.  Still, a good photographer shouldn’t just rely on the advancement of his tools, but he should also possess that outstanding creativity to make pictures great and to choose a creative subject matter for photography. Like photography, literature doesn’t rely much on the general view of the world, but it depends on the writer’s keen sense for particular details that would render his or her work powerful and inspiring.

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