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Photography Provides Opportunity
by Sharon Hawkins
Mathew Yeo arrived at the scene of the only
major fire in his hometown in twenty years, to see photographers from competing
papers taking pictures of the burning apartment building. Mathew, a writer,
proceeded to interview and photograph the people affected by the blaze. He wrote
an article on the family that had no insurance and had lost all their
possessions in the fire. With his article he had heart-rending pictures such as
the crying young woman in a housecoat. Other writers focused on the physical
event. Mathew's pictures enabled him to write the human story.
Inspired by his mother, a professional
photographer, Mathew had earlier decided to learn photography to add to his
existing writing talents.
I quizzed Mathew on the importance of
photography for writers.
"My photography experience got me a job working
for the local newspaper," he said. It "allowed them to pay only one guy to do
both jobs -- which they loved."
If Mathew had not been a photographer as well as
a writer, his editor would have had to send an additional person to the scene of
the fire. Mathew's pictures and words reinforce each other, achieving greater
impact than if two individuals had done the writing and the pictures
Photographs taken by the writer can also help a
reader envision something that is difficult to explain. Do-it-yourself articles
usually need photographs to explain procedures or show parts that have names not
known to a novice. Mathew states for a beginner starting any project
"photographs can make all the difference in whether they understand what you are
trying to say or whether they go and buy another magazine."
Mathew says that while his photography skills
may not have increased the range of subjects he writes about, they have
increased the likelihood of being chosen over other writers vying for the
editor's attention. "If you can save an editor effort you are automatically on
his or her good side."
He adds that for a writer, photography can be an
additional source of income. "Most magazines have separate pay scales for
pictures and print." Sometimes you can resell pictures without having to write
Photography in some ways is very much like
writing. It, too, has to be composed and made appealing to the audience.
Photography, like writing, requires a keen eye. In fact, photography can sharpen
the writer's eye by increasing visual awareness.
Photography can help writers see a whole
different world -- one that is richer, more varied, and certainly more
Mathew believes taking quality photographs is a
learnable skill for writers. Learning to use a camera he states takes only hands
on practice. There are books that describe the different elements of the camera
and their functions so the inexperienced could quickly be up and running in
The next time an opportunity presents itself,
and it needn't be a fire -- it could be an article on the local rose garden --
take your camera with you to provide that extra leverage to your article. It
might help you get the editor's attention.
© Copyright 1999, Sharon Hawkins
Sharon Hawkins is a freelance writer living in sunny Queensland, Australia. Her recent work has entertained readers of Top
Dog, Rootes, and Australian Family Tree Connections.
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