Tuesday, May 23, 2017

lessons in storytelling

I've been working on a shift in perspective lately, thanks to a recent blog post from Kelle Hampton. It was actually about taking better photos for Instagram - something I can always work on, so I clicked through to read - and it gave me a creative boost I'd been craving for a while not just with my daily snaps but also with a hitch in my writing.

Kelle started her post by reminding readers that photography is like yoga (or any daily practice) - when it's a habit, you get better. When you forget to do it every day, you stop being able to stretch yourself as far as you want to. These dark winter months, in both sunlight and spirit, have kept me away from photography practice after a year of daily workouts in New Orleans, and I've been in a funk about our cookie cutter subdivision, my girls' predilection for cotton candy pink shirts emblazoned with words, and the gray-gray-gray world from November through April. She's certainly at an advantage in beautiful Naples, FL - but northern Illinois has some merits. Sometimes.

But my "aha!" moment really came when reading her tips. Because as good as they were for reminding me about what makes a good photo, a little bell started ringing in my head that these were lessons in what makes a good story, too.

Find the light. Change your perspective. Play with shadows. Get away from centering on your subject. Use negative space. Crop it.

Well, duh.

I've been in such a writing funk lately. The stories in my head just don't match what's coming out when I sit down to type, and the material feels staid. I find myself deleting drafts and thinking that I've already read it, done better, somewhere else. I'm realizing that I need to start making a daily practice out of looking at things differently and thinking about new ways of telling what feels like "same old same old" material. I'll be working on seeking out the light and playing with shadow rather than focusing on the dark. And careful editing will be a major focus: getting to the heart of the thing without the extra noise surrounding it.

A friend of mine with a photography background asked me about lighting in some of my shots over the weekend, and I immediately focused on the frustrations I've had with my old iPhone 5S and my ISO struggles with my Canon Rebel. But you know what? I need to work with what I've got - and stretch my skills behind the lens and in front of the keyboard a little farther each time I try it.

No comments:

Post a Comment