Saturday, April 3, 2010

Taking Pictures with Too much in the Frame

By Keith Fisher

My daughter borrowed my camera the other day and asked me to send her the images. I’m an obedient dad, but my duty required I check out her pictures while I downloaded them. I found 62 beautiful pictures causing me to reminisce.

I studied photography in high school, and thought I was pretty good. At one time I wanted to be a news photographer when I grew up. Time, made me realize my pictures weren’t very good. Well I took a few good ones, but there were many more that left me shaking my head.

Out of every five rolls of film I’d get one good one, which explains why I’m a writer, and not a photographer. I still try to take good pictures, though. At least I don’t cut off heads.

My daughter, however, takes wonderful pictures, and she taught herself. She uses the settings on my camera, and produces works of art. The picture of the flat volleyball is one of them.

When I examine the image, my mind conjures metaphors and object lessons, but beyond that, there is nothing in the frame to detract from the subject. I noticed the other pictures were the same way. She took pictures of a stack of bricks, a discarded gardening glove, a clump of pine needles, and more. All of these bits of beauty are tiny parts of my yard, things I never take time to notice. If I went out there, I’d come back with one, maybe three, pictures of the whole yard. I’d make sure the images were in frame, but you’d never see the volleyball in my picture.

I realized I try to put too much in the frame. I forget to concentrate on individual portions. Then I thought of my writing. As a writer, I plot. I’ve been told that’s a good thing, but let me tell you what happened the other day.

I brought the first chapter of my new book, to critique group. Well I really brought my third chapter that I’d moved to the front because of event sequencing. I had things in the first chapter that happen after the third chapter. The problem was I forgot about the exposition I’d put in the third chapter. Because it was now the first chapter, I added a situational hook, then tried to make the exposition fit the story. I tried to fill the frame of my photograph. Instead of focusing on the hook, I got lazy.

The wonderful ladies in my group pointed out my errors, and my argumentative nature rebelled. Have I ever told you my critique group is the best bunch of writers you could find? Their patience is legendary.

So I need to go back and re-work it. This time I’ll focus on the situational hook. I’ll let it develop and worry about the rest as it comes. I’ve had time to think, and I know how to make it work. I just need to focus on one thing at time. I know where I’m going. Now, I need to help the reader enjoy the journey. Like my daughter takes pictures of the little things, I need to focus on each chapter. Then my book will be a collection of beautiful chapters instead of a good plot that never gets read.

I blogged about Secret Sisters today. Check it out. Click on the image below.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


Carolyn V. said...

Great post Keith! I love the picture - and I know how hard it is to go back and rework something in my writing. Good luck! =)

L.T. Elliot said...

What a great way to highlight hooks and focus. And I agree with you, that picture of the volleyball is very evocative.

Heather Justesen said...

This is so true! I was thinking I was doing a 'last edit' of Family by Design, but as I'm reading it through I keep seeing little threads that need tweaking before I send it for a last round of critiques. They're just little pieces of the whole, slightly out of place, but if I don't give them the attention they need, the final product won't be nearly as satisfying.