reading response #2

On Being a Photographer: Bill Jay & David Hurn  - Chapter Title: Selecting a Subject

I enjoyed this chapter.  They hit on one theme time and time again - curiosity.  Well this bodes well, I feel I am a pretty curious person.  Perhaps to a fault sometimes.  Too many interests, constantly pulled away from one thing to explore another, I think this has something to do with a near decade of meandering though schools/majors/areas of focus in my life.  Many times I feel like I like too much.  I have never felt that "I want to be a doctor"  or " I want to be a designer" feeling, I want to be it all, but obviously never can.  So I became a photographer. 

So they recommend lists.  Making idea lists.  Big ones.  Of everything that hits you as an interest, or topic, or thing.  And then the trick is narrowing it down.  They recommend asking these questions:

Is it visual?
Is it practical?
Is it a subject about which I know enough?
Is it interesting to others?

One final thought from them I liked -  "The point is that all photographers of stature whom I admire seem to share this fundamental characteristic: a deep and long-lasting respect and love for the subject matter."

This week's readings in Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird covered three key parts of a story: Character, Plot, and Dialog. 

Character - Lamott is a fiction writer, and in some ways the things she has to say are simpler in fiction - since you are creating your charters, but a point she hits on time and time again in all three of these chapters is that everything grows out of your characters.  She relates a character tot a Polaroid - your picture/understanding of them develops over time.  She stresses the importance of understanding your character - how they think, how they feel, but in specific ways - who they would have voted for, what they cary in their pockets, do they look back or forward.  Understand their essence.  "Nothing is as important as a likable narrator.  Nothing holds a story together better" (p. 49).  Understand them, but don't you dare put them in a box.

Plot - The most important thing she says about plot is in the second paragraph of the chapter - "Plot grows out of character."  Worry about the characters, not the plot, since plot is simply what characters do in situations.  Discover what they care about, because thats what is at stake.  Climax requires a killing, healing, or domination.

Dialog - This is the most abstract, since in our world we rely on our characters to gift us good dialog, where in Lamott's world she creates it.  Still as she says - good dialog is amazing, bad dialog is the death of a story.  Here again though, she points back to characters - dialog is how you nail who your character is so get it right, get the voice right, get the essence of who they are though what they are saying.    

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