A Writer is Simply a Photographer of Thoughts

This little quote is by someone named Brandon A. Tream. I guess he’s a writer.

I’ve always loved photography and have taken pictures of anything and everything since I was first given access to a camera. Back in the day, film and developing film was expensive, and money was limited, so when you had 24 pictures in the roll – you had 24 times to get it right. And then you couldn’t take photos of anything else.

I would inevitably press the button by accident, thus wasting at least a couple of those, later to discover that I had a few amazing blurry photos of my thumb or the sidewalk or wherever else the camera was pointing. But you had to be careful when taking your photos. You had to get your shot just right in order to tell whatever story you were trying to tell with the photograph itself.

When I was in college, I had completed all the credits I needed to graduate by December of my Senior year. Because I still had to remain a full time student in order to continue on my ROTC responsibilities, I took a Photojournalism class. This was in 1993 and I not only had to tell stories with my photographs for credit, I had to develop them myself in a dark room. Now that was desperation! I could take the best photo in the world, but if I screwed up developing it, then no one but me every saw it.

Now you can just take 1,000 photos until you get it right. There is no subtle desperation attached to telling your photograph’s story the way you want to tell it, unless you’re hanging off a cliff trying to get the right photo or maybe catching an athlete running by at just the right moment. You could even tell several different stories with basically the same photograph taken with slight differentiations. Then delete the ones you don’t want.

When technology took away some of the desperation attached to storytelling through a photograph, it took away a key, sometimes necessary, catalyst of inspiration. It wasn’t always in the front of my mind that I was desperate when taking a photo, but it was there under the surface – a true part of the photograph itself – the desperation of life itself, coming to the edges – or perhaps even the heart and core – as a part of the story.

I think writers work the same way. There is something desperate underneath the surface of telling a story, whether it is evident to the writer him or herself. It’s just there – coursing through the veins of a story – a part of the equation of words and narratives and sentences and plot – kind of like the “x” in algebra.

And it is a vital ingredient to being a photographer of thoughts. 


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