In addition to photography skills, photographers need some basic writing skills to fully realize the impact of the work. You don’t need to be a gifted writer but you do need to be able to provide the reader with the fullest view possible of your project and it has to be done concisely and coherently.
We all learned to write by the time we left elementary school. Some of us learned those lessons better than others, but we all learned them. Going on to high school we wrote papers for our classes and then, for those of us who went on to college, paper writing was a regular part of our lives. Here is a brief review of the writing process and the briefest of primers on how to approach writing for your photo projects.
Any writing, be it a letter, employment application paragraph or whatever, can be broken down into phases. Because you have done much of the organizational and research work in the photography part of the project, some of the initial writing phases could go fairly quickly.
You have already done a lot of your pre-writing in forming and refining the idea of your project and doing the research necessary to get the project moving forward. The most important thing to remember is that you are not explaining the photographs with your text. You are answering these basic questions… what additional questions do I need to answer about my subject for the reader? What else does the reader need to know? What information do I need to give the reader to complete the subject’s story? In the text, you are adding to the reader’s knowledge of the subject. You are rounding out the information. You are supplying a context for the story. If you need to give the reader specific information about the content of a specific photograph- names, dates, locations, etc.- you can add a caption to the photograph.
The major task to accomplish in the pre-writing phase is determining what elements from your research will be used to give the reader additional details, answer unanswered questions, give personal insights or even a different point of view of the project.