There’s a lot of people you meet on social media. A lot of creative folk among them. Today’s guest blogger knows me through Twitter, and like me, he likes to blog.
In his post he talks about the importance of ‘dressing up’ your content. Anyone who who’s familiar with my social media feeds knows I like my Photoshop, video camera and editing software. And although André is still an aspiring author at this stage, he combines his passions of writing and photography on his blog, It’s A Journey.
Blogging… more than words
My venture into blogging stemmed from an insatiable appetite to create and to put words to paper. At that time, my career was not putting me in the path of many writing opportunities, and I was fine with that, even though deep down, I needed to write as much as I needed to eat, sleep and breathe.
Launching the blog was an opportunity to bring balance into my creative life and to unleash the writing beast within to unload the tempest of words brewing in my subconscious. At that time, to me, blogging was purely about the writing.
What I did not expect was that it became more than just about words. If a blogger wants it to be, it can become a vehicle for a much more expansive creative process.
Once the blog was in full swing and I was reading up on techniques to leverage social media for its promotion, a recurring theme was the concept of good photos to accompany each post. In a tidal wave of content from so many sources, whether on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ (among many others), a clever, interesting visual depiction is said to invite readers to click the mouse and to check it out where words on their own might not.
Throughout the years, I have always dabbled in creative hobbies like painting, photography and even community television production. In my spare time, I also enjoyed reading marketing magazines, as I was always fascinated about the marriage of elements and techniques behind promotion.
Little did I know that all the tips and tricks I learned from my creative hobbies over the years would eventually come in handy for my blog. In particular, getting back into photography was a serendipitous pleasure. Things had really come full circle.
At first, it was a bit of a struggle trying to find interesting shots to go with the blog posts. There were times when the enthusiasm to write a piece occasionally got crushed by the afterthought, “Okay, so what will be the picture I attach?” when nothing in my collection of digital photos remotely matched.
When I realized that this was a creative challenge as much as writing the blog itself, I started finding ways of building up my own collection of generic stock photos and get the creative juices flowing again with my little point and shoot camera.
Enthusiasm got the best of me. As much as my trusty little camera was handy, there came a point when I thought the pictures were looking a little flat and that I was missing some of the creative potential I experienced with the SLR camera I loved using in the 1990’s. After a few searches, I discovered that the lenses and filters I had back then may indeed be compatible with some digital cameras today. When I discovered a second hand digital SLR that was a perfect match for my lenses and filters, my world opened up again and creativity found new abundance.
The challenge then was to go back and retrofit existing blog posts (that did not have a picture) with a new photo. Slowly, bit by bit, week by week, I am getting there, while still adding new content to the blog weekly. The right side of my brain is having a party!
I realise a short cut would be to buy stock photography. Believe me, I have been tempted. I have perused several web sites and found some beautiful collections of high quality photos. But because snapping pictures is something that I have enjoyed since my first Kodak 110 camera under the Christmas tree in 1975, I think I would be missing out on a great part of the overall creative process especially when strong interest is there.
Creating my own photos gives me an opportunity to add my own quirkiness and nuances into the visual. Also, where stock photos might not give me exactly what I am looking for, creating it myself gives me that freedom. Also, it offers me the opportunity to try things out and see what is more successful in making visually compelling photos, whether the choice of subjects, background, composition or lighting.
I am a long way from being a pro, but I sometimes wonder if an amateur photo with its own unique and original qualities might still be successful in drawing in more readers than just the words themselves. So far, so good.
Also, getting into the photography frame of mind again inspired me to breathe new life into old photos I was taking with my SLR film camera. I have been sending out some of my favourite photos to a neighbourhood shop to get scanned into digital format and ready for use should the opportunity present itself.
In going through old photo albums, I even started sending out the photos I took at events during high school years and posting them on Facebook to the delight (and possibly, mild dread) to my classmates. But by posting shots that commemorated the good times we had, I think the walk down memory lane has been a lot of fun. What a fun spinoff from the blog experience!
I am delighted to be venturing back into photography in this day and age of digital photography. No film, no flash cubes, no developing. I can take hundreds or thousands of pictures, delete the ones with less impact and keep the good ones. Plus I can slowly build up my own stock of images, taking random shots of day-to-day items, without really knowing (or caring) if they will ever get used. With every picture I take, I get better acquainted with this art form again.
I know stock photography will always be there if I need it but blogging has become more than just about words, it has become a convergence of many different hobbies and interests that present so many wonderful learning opportunities in other creative disciplines as well.