The Image of Writing

imgp6507By S. J. Brown

Writers paint a picture with their words while photographers create pictures that are worth 1000 words.  Writers and photographers have a lot of things in common. Both share their passion with others, and both agonize over their craft.   

When putting together a proposal a writer looks for just the right words, while a photographer seeks out just the right image. 

Which one do you think would make a better magazine cover? 

Writers use descriptive words to place an image in the mind of the reader, while photographers use an image to place the observer in their shoes.


When working with words there is a lot to consider characters, descriptions, subtle details, and how many words are just enough.  When working with images there are subjects, angles, lighting and locations to contemplate.


Research is another necessity for both professions.  If a writer is going to create a truly memorable piece of fiction they need to know all they can about the time period, place, or professions featured in their story.  As a wildlife photographer I need to know everything I can about my subjects before I can photograph them.  In order to capture a critter on film I need to know their habits, temperament, diet and their home range.  If I can’t find them I can’t photograph them.


 The biggest challenge for both writers and photographers is marketing.  Marketing is a time consuming, confusing, necessary task. With proper marketing writers place their work in the reader’s hands and the reader in another world.   Meanwhile photographers strive to bring a glimpse of another world into people’s homes.

8-scenic The writing trade includes a number of categories like poetry, fiction and nonfiction.  Photographers tend to specialize as well.  Some of us photograph people, while others focus on landscapes or intimate floral settings, yet others like me prefer the challenge of capturing images of critters.    


Sometimes the collaboration of a writer and a photographer is vital.  Think about it, a greeting card needs the image on the front and the sentiment on the inside.  A book just wouldn’t be the same without the tantalizing words encased by the cover art and accented with the author’s portrait. 

 Whether you conjure up an image or click a shutter button always follow your passion.   

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

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Cover All the Birds I See Cover

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18 thoughts on “The Image of Writing

  1. Excellent post. You do a good job of comparing writing and photography — the similarities and the differences. I envy people who are good at both. I also admire artists who can transfer a scene in their mind to the canvas.


    1. For me one feeds the other. Now a blank canvas is a different story. Yes I can handle a paint brush but generally I am painting a wall or woodwork.


    1. That is the really hard part about submitting my work, choosing. All three butterfly images leave room for the magazine title and the listing of stories that a publisher wants. But they also have to consider what color font they want to use. Basically it come down to which one grabs them at first glance.


  2. Very descriptive! But you don’t just photograph critters S.J – you photograph them in their environment and that’s a big part of the whole picture and and a big plus as well for the viewer because scale matters as well.


    1. Thank you. I believe that if you love what you do it shows. I’m not sure what I will focus on next time, but I promise to include photos.


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