While most of the information here deals with using photography to tell the subject’s story, another equally essential part of the storytelling is the writing. Successful writing gives the reader more information about the subject, information about the subject that the photographs can’t provide and additional context or the photographs.

You don’t need to be a Hemingway or a King to write about your work effectively. Whether you are writing an introduction to give context, an essay to expand the reader’s information or caption lines to enhance the individual photographs, the goal is still to tell the subject’s story and communicate a message about the subject. Just as with the photographs, there are six traits or characteristics that help shape the writing. These traits are essentially the same as those guiding the photography — ideas, word choice, organization, fluency, voice or style and conventions.

1. Ideas-

The ideas to incorporate in the writing will all come from the photography and will answer one fundamental question – what do I need to show the reader about the subject that the photographs can’t? Another version of this question is what do I need to tell the reader that the photographs can’t? Another version of the same question is… what is the context the reader needs to have to fully understand the photograph? Some examples are-

  • We have a photograph of a group of people… who are the people in the photograph? Why were they photographed? What is the importance or relationship of the people in the photograph?
  • We have photographs of a community event… what is the event? What is being celebrated? When is the event? Where is the event?
  • We have photographs of what appears to be a family vacation… the first thing that needs to be answered is is it? Who are the people in the photographs? Where are the photographs taken? When are the photographs taken?

These will often take the form of reporters questions – who? what? where? why? how? and so what?