Photography and Poetry
A Creative Sisterhood
I love the interconnections between Photography and Poetry. Obviously, one is visual, the other verbal, but still, there are strong similarities in the creative process. This probably is true for other art forms and Photography, such as painting or sculpture or music or dance or whatever. But as a poet and a photographer, it’s the sisterhood between creating both photographic and poetic images that intrigues me.
The photographer, Elliot Erwitt said: “ When photography is good, it’s pretty interesting, and when it’s very good, it is irrational and even magical….nothing to do with the photographer’s conscious will or desire”. We’ve all had those “ irrational and even magical” moments in the field, right? I think he’s talking about the flow that occurs in the creative process. When a poet drafts the early versions of a poem, she often free writes from the subconscious level, when words seem to spill out onto the page from some mysterious place inside herself. That’s the process for the initial creation. It’s right brained, where our intuition lives.
But after that initial creation, the left brain of the true artist takes over. In poetry, the equivalent of post processing, is revision. This is where you roll up your sleeves, make a pot of tea, and formulate the roadmap for where you want this thing you’ve created to end up. Now you have to decide on the destination. The first step is the journey, the second, the destination, and the process for both photography and poetry is the same. For every artist, formulating that destination works a little differently, but the basic, two step process of letting the right brain run, and then putting on the left brain leash to bring it home is similar.
If you don’t see yourself as a poet, try it. Start with an emotion and a blank page in front of you, and then turn It over to your subconscious mind, and barf up whatever words fall from that mysterious place within you. They don’t have to make sense. Sometimes what you have to say will be good, and sometimes, when it’s very good, “irrational and even magical”. Then, when the work of your subconscious is done, start revising the words with your left brain, the same process as you use in post processing a photographic image. Let the dog run wherever it wants, then slip on the leash. Voila! You’re a poet!
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