The Word and Image - Photography for Writers

Deepen your writing practice through photographic principles.

In the image-centric world of digital media, it’s crucial for writers, both aspiring and published, to understand photography as our other language--with its own lexicon, syntax and rules of grammar.  “Photography for Writers” will deepen your understanding of this medium and improve your imaging skills. But, more importantly, it will introduce you to photography as a way of seeing and as a powerful tool for making you a better writer.

During this workshop, you’ll learn how to use photographic principles as perceptual tools. We’ll enhance your ability to manipulate the characteristics of light, of camera optics, of composition and color, both in camera and with basic after-capture techniques. With these skills as your toolbox, you’ll keep a daily photographic journal, every entry supplemented by text notes in a series of specialized writing exercises. These will range from simple word-associations and freeform captions, to progressively more complex and nuanced essays, each precisely grounded in the visual reality of your photographs. A few of the areas we’ll explore in this word/picture format are:

• The myth of photographic truth.  

• Figure-ground organization and the principle of the visual gestalt.

• Visual literacy and the “grammar” of photographic imaging.

• The idea/image resonance I: Extracting the hard details of a person or object or place from its photographic “reality.” Exploring the image qualities that alter or amplify these details.

• The idea/image resonance II: The nuances of evocative relationships between image and text. The craft of creating and also perceiving atmospheric features in a photographic subject. Inferring mood impressions from these features and translating them into precise, well-crafted text.  Conversely, extracting the same features from text and expressing them as a photograph or photo essay.

Prerequisites for this class are simply a passion for writing, along with sound composition and copy editing skills. Some technical proficiency with digital cameras and basic after-capture skills are desirable. The main photographic requirement is a willingness to abandon any thoughts of content-free, “shoot from the hip” photos.  They simply don’t apply to the theme of this workshop.

Instructors

Jim Cornfield

Jim Cornfield is a veteran commercial photographer, freelance journalist and travel writer based in Malibu Canyon, CA. His adventure and eco-travel articles, covering destinations from Israel, India, Costa Rica, Spain and Italy to Honduras, the Cayman Islands and Portugal, are widely published in magazines, including Scientific American, Continental Air Lines Magazine, and LA-based Rangefinder for which Cornfield is a regular columnist and contributing feature writer. Over a career that spans 35 years, Jim Cornfield has been Feature Editor of Petersen’s PhotoGraphic Magazine, Director of Photography for East/West Network, and was co-creator of the acclaimed book series, Masters of Contemporary Photography. His photographs appear in advertisements corporate publications worldwide, for a clientele that includes NBC, CBS, Fox Television, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Hewlett-Packard, Dole, Occidental Petroleum, along with  a gamut of periodicals from Reader's Digest to Popular Photography. Cornfield is the author of  three books, and an experienced film and video director, having created many television commercials for his broadcasting clients. He was raised in suburban Los Angeles, graduated from UCLA and served as an officer in the US Air Force.