Ten Ways Writing and Photography are the Same

camera and writersI thought this would be a fun little post for a Monday.  As many of you know, I have a number of friends in the photography business.  They are at various levels of the business, and I always marvel at how similar their posts are to those of writers.  This morning I saw a post on Facebook from Gustavo Alfaro Photography.  I can’t for the time of me figure out how to embed this post, so I will just quote it: “Photographers are the most insecure people I know. Don’t believe me? Look at one and tell them their work sucks. Part of being an artist I guess… #‎needtostepitup‬ ‪#‎changingmyvision‬”

This post reminded me a lot of myself, I have a few insecurities. And well, it got me back to thinking on how similar the lives of the writer and photographer are.  So her are 10 reasons writing and photography are the same:

1. We both never have time to work on our craft.

It is true.  I’ve never seen a group of people complain about a lack of time more than writers.  That was until I met photographers. We are remarkably similar in this. Our crafts take time, and there isn’t enough time to work on it.  Sure, we have to feed the dog, water the lawn, clean the house, care for the kids, but that isn’t the reason we have no time. The real reason…

2. We both spend far too long on the internet.

And we call this time on the internet, research. Writers are getting character ideas, researching possible locations, getting ideas on character names, learning the difference between than and then.  Photographers call it “getting shoot ideas.” or “buying props”. The truth is simple.  Just look at our Facebook pages. We are too busy sharing cat photos, complaining we don’t have time to work, and writing blog posts about the similarities between… well you get the point.

3. Our friends and family don’t take our craft seriously.

Oh, you write books.  How cute.  It isn’t hard.  HA! Sure.  You take pictures all day.  When will you get a real job.  Hell, my phone takes pictures. See, to them it is a cute hobby.  Your mom might love you, but your best friend is too busy to worry about this little hobby of yours.  Secretly they all hope you will get a real job so that you’ll stop posting links to your work and go back to sending the Candy Crush tickets.  Some even make fun little remarks like: “When will I see a movie about your book?” or “Was that your photo I saw on TIME?” or “So you still play make believe.” or “I bet it is hard to take pictures of beautiful women/men all day.”

No one promotes us. We are left to beg people to click like, or write a review, or vote in the photo contest.  Only about one percent of your friends ever share anything you do.  Not really realizing that that shared photo, or the nice review on a book you write, could be the referral you need. We all just want the acceptance of our communities, but it always seems out of reach.

4. There are tons of people in our craft with real talent who never see the light of day.

We both think our work is not good enough. As Gustavo said, we are insecure.  It takes huge amounts of courage for us to show you what we wrote.  For us to share it, and then for us to hear you say you don’t like it.  There are some excellent talented people in our crafts, but they are just too scared to put their work out there.

5. It is easy to do what we do.

Just ask anyone who doesn’t do it.  People who have never written a word come to me and tell me how easy it must be to be a writer.  You just sit down and your computer and type. It sure looks that way from the outside, but when you try it you see it isn’t that simple.  Photography is the same way.  We all have a camera, all you have to do is point the camera and take the picture.  It is easy.  Being a writer or photographer is easy in the same way that being a brain surgeon is easy.  I am sure I could cut scalps with no medical training, why the hell not.

6. We both spend more time editing than creating.

It is very much the case.  Photographers go out for a three hour shoot and spend the next week editing the photos. Writers may type out a manuscript in one or two months, but then spend then next year promising the release date is around the corner.  Editing takes the most time, and…

7. People have unrealistic expectations from the editing process.

Sorry folks, no amount of touch ups will make my fat ass look like Channing Tatum.  I can spend a year editing a book, I guarantee that it will still be released with an error.  Even the big publishers do it. Instead of focusing on what doesn’t matter, lets be realistic here.  Perhaps I can look like George Clooney instead.

8. People assume we’ll work for free.

Why does your book cost so much? Can you just send me one?  I’d love to buy your book, but I am broke.  I have a great idea for a book.  If you write it for me, I’ll split the earnings with you.

Hey, come to our wedding just bring your camera.  Can you remove the watermark on this photo so I can print it at Walmart?  Would you mind taking our family portrait, you know, for free?

9. We can’t wait to get discovered, just to show you we could.

We fantasize about how we will be discovered and start really bringing in the big bucks. How you will then wish you were nice to us when we were small time.  We imagine you coming to us asking for our time or money, but we are just far too busy.  We couldn’t possible sign anything right now, perhaps you could talk to our PR person.

10. We are both practicing an under appreciated form of art.

The number of active readers are decreasing. People don’t read anymore, that is why they want to see every popular book made into a movie or a TV series. And our print market is dying fast.  Everyone one wants digital. Books no longer line home libraries, but rather stored “in the cloud” or on eReaders making the true value of a book seem somewhat trivial.

In photography, the digital camera has ruined film.  And now that everyone has a camera on their smart phone, few see the point of hiring a photographer for anything anymore.  Homes seem to rarely display photos anymore, instead they sit on the hard drives of computers, never really being appreciated for the art form they really are.

Novel Announcement: Volition Agent

If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve undoubtedly seen a few teasing posts about my next novel project.  I’ve teased with a few hints, surprises, and more.  Well the teasing can come to an end, I have decided to finally let the cat out of the bag.

My next novel, titled Volition Agent, is a fast paced SciFi Thriller set in the near future.  The highly secretive Agency has a Volition program.  They take everyday people who are physically fit and recruit them as Volition Agents.  They are implanted with a control chip so that a highly trained “handler” can control their every action.  If a Agent is captured the loss to the Agency in minimal.  Agents are sent on missions from intelligence gatherings to assassinations.  Volition Agent followed Lexia, one of the agents.

Here is a tentative blurb:

Lexia Santarelli is part of a top secret group of Volition Agents.  These untrained, unremarkable, everyday people are recruited by the agency to be literally controlled by their “handler” through a device implanted in their necks.  It is an exciting life, and despite some of the annoyances, Lexia enjoys it.

That is until the Agency decides to let Lexia take the fall for a mission gone wrong.  Her link with her handler, Lance is severed.  Suddenly Lexia finds herself alone, unprepared, and hunted by the very people she trusted.

With few clues, minimal training, and an unlikely ally Lexia sets out to discover what really happened on that botched assignment.  Determined to set right the wrong she created, nothing can stand in her way.  Not even the Agency itself.

I have some great cover art for this novel, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.  So here it is:

Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons Photography

KIPThe cover art is shot and designed by Kristin Irons (website).  I’ve worked with Kristin before, she designed the logo for Plasma Spyglass Press. Kristin is a very talented photographer and when I explained what I was looking for she said she had an idea.  The next week was a bit of a whirlwind.  Kristin found a model, the very beautiful and talented Joy Anna, to play Lexia in a photo shoot.  She then teased me relentlessly with images from that photo shoot before showing me the image she had in mind for the cover art.  I am a very picky and hard to work with person when it comes to cover art, but she kept taking my ideas and reworking them until we came up with the cover above.  And I couldn’t be more thrilled by it.

Let me tell you why this cover is so special to me.  This is the first time I’ve had anyone “play” one of my character in any way.  Joy Anna, whose modeling pictures I had only seen briefly before this, jumped into this project head first.  I understand they captured a ton of images and I’ve only seen a few of them. As a writer, I was excited to see what might come from this.  I’ve never met, or even talked to Joy Anna but I thank her for her time because the results are absolutely amazing.

A big heartfelt thanks to Joy Anna, Kristin, and her assistant William Harris.  So many folks use stock art, or stock photos to make custom cover art.  But I have a real custom cover for this novel.  Please take a moment to check out the people that helped with this cover, give them a like, follow, or whatever else to show them some support.  Kristin Irons: Facebook, Twitter, Website  Joy Anna: Facebook William Harris: Flickr

This is the first story I have written where it had a title before I ever wrote it.  The whole idea came from hearing the word volition and it’s meaning; the ability to make a choice or decision.  So Volition Agent was an easy enough title for me to come up with.  I think it works well given the themes in this novel.

So when is the release date for Volition Agent?  One hasn’t been set just yet.  But I have a deadline of the first week of June 2013.  So expect to see it no later than this.  I hope to have it out a little sooner, but you can’t rush these things.  I’ll be sending it out for Beta Readers in the first two weeks of April.  Then my editor will get this.  I’ll be working with a new editor this time, since Robert is booked up for the foreseeable future.  As always, watch this blog, my Twitter and Facebook for updates.

I’ll leave you with a few other images from the photo shoot:

Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons
Copyright 2013 Kristin Irons

Want-A-Be Writers Vs True Writers

Just because you write, doesn’t make you a writer.

I have recently discovered that writing has this in common with Photography.  Everyone who picks up a camera, takes pictures of their family reunion, and posts them on a Facebook Page they made; calls themselves a photographer.  That is a steamy load of crap.

Photography is an art form and requires a lot more then point and shoot.  Over the years, photography has been watered down by many factors:  Easy exposure, easier to use equipment, easy digital printing, and friends/family who won’t tell them they suck.  The result has been an over abundance of people calling themselves photographers and they have watered down the craft.  Add this to the fact that photography is a misunderstood art form (that is to say most people don’t know what makes a photo art), and the true photographers are ripping their hair out.

Writing is clearly not much different anymore.  First, most people won’t know good writing if it bit them in the ass.  I am not talking about styles, genres, or your own reading preference.  I am talking about a well written story.  There are plenty of books I don’t like, but they were written very well.  It was just not something I enjoyed reading.  Writing, like photography, is a craft.  It takes time to perfect each piece (though a true writer never reaches perfection).  But most people accept anything written on the page that is must be good to get published.

Writing is getting watered down now, just like writing.   Easy exposure, digital printing, easier to use equipment, and  friends/family who won’t tell them they suck.

Easy Exposure:

Anyone can create a Facebook Page.  I have four of them.  Anyone can create a blog.  Twitter, Google+, good reads, and much more.  Don’t get me wrong these are great tools for the Author to use, I use all of them.  However, anyone can slap “Writer of…” on their page.  It makes it harder to establish the true writer’s from the hacks.

Digital Printing:

Lulu, Create Space, and a ton of other print on demand publishers have made it so anyone with an email address can publish something.  Don’t get me wrong.  This, and the e-publishing for e-readers, is revolutionizing the publishing industry.  For years publishers have excluded excellent writers based on editors opinions, agents, and other such problems.  But it has also removed the filter.  This means we are getting all kinds of utter crap out their too.  It makes it harder to know who to buy from and who to avoid.  It has also put an undeserved negative stigma on self published authors.

Easier to Use Equipment:

Word Processors, writer’s programs, easy to use publishing software, and a slew of other programs to help writers.  They are great tools, but again they enable many people to fool themselves into thinking they can write because some program keeps track of grammar errors, or characters, or chapters.  However, most want-a-be writers don’t know anything about plot threads, prose, or even when to use bad grammar.  Have you ever read a book where every character speaks perfect English?  That’s horrible, because I have never met anyone who always speaks perfect English.

Friends/Family won’t tell them they suck:

This is where you can help out.  If you have a friend or family member who writes, and they are no good at it.  Please tell them to stop.  Thank you.

Truth be told, that is hard to do.  At the very least though, please don’t tell them they are good at it.  As the saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  You don’t have to tell them how good they are.  Just don’t say anything.

The true problem here is that most want-a-be writers never show their works to other writers or join writers groups.  They assume they either don’t have to share, or they are delusional to their own abilities.

How can readers find good, real writers.

You used to have some level of trust, that if they made it to bookshelves they were at least somewhat skilled in the craft.  That is simply no longer the case.   Anyone can make their way on to Amazon.com.  How do we decipher the good from the bad?  It really is harder then you think.  Many great writers are self published.  They have great blogs, Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, and more.  So how do we really tell?

Well in many cases, it is simply trial and error.  You buy a book from them, they are clearly a hack so you never buy from them again.  Or you buy their book, love it, and can’t wait to get something from them again.  But there is something you can do to help with this.

Read the reviews.  The reviews will tell you what other readers thought.  Read them carefully.  Look for items that are simple opinion versus objective facts.  For example:  “I didn’t like that the entire book takes place in space.” (opinion) versus “There was an entire section of text that was formatted in red ink for no reason, punctuation is missing, and the Point of View changes mid-paragraph.” (objective facts).  Ignore the comments that simply say “it sucks” or “the best book ever”, neither of those gives you any insight to the book.  Lastly, remember rating systems (stars or number scales) are almost always opinion based.

But you, as the reader, need to go one step further.  Write a review.  Most people don’t write reviews on their purchases, despite the fact that nearly every online retailer has the ability to review.  Write a detailed review about why you liked, or did not like, the book.  If it was because the writing was bad, point out examples.  Share both your opinions and facts.  Say you liked it because of this reason and then point out the writing is strong with believable dialogue.  A good well written review helps the Author sell more books, but it also helps other readers know if they should stay away.  Bad reviews are just as important as good ones.  So write both.

I am trying to make it a habit of writing a review on everything I read.  I write reviews on Good Reads, and on the site in which I purchased the book.  You should do the same.  It really doesn’t take much time, especially in comparison to what you spent on reading the book, and it helps everyone involved.

There are a ton of good writers out there.  It is great that it is so easy to find and buy great writing from all over the world.  The downside is that some garbage is getting in too.  Hopefully more people will help the true writers filter out the hacks.  The hacks are what have given self-publishing a bad name.

Lastly, if any of you hacks are reading this.  Study the craft, work hard at it, and chances are you can be just as good as many writers.  Like any art form, writing needs to be studied.  The true writer will study his craft constantly, the hack doesn’t take it serious enough to bother.