My thoughts about written-visual combinations started in conversation with my good friend, @JCRosen, contemplating what it means to write a story with a strong visual impression. My initial reaction was something akin to sensory overload: candy shop, overwhelming special effects, smoke and lights, primary colors, flowers. But does overwhelming sensory experience leave us with any lasting visual impression? Better perhaps to focus on the take-away? Ask your beta readers, "What images stay in your mind after you read this?" Maybe start with images that connect on an emotional level, specific images just slightly off from the expected. Experiment.
Claire Morgane site and realized that I really do expect more. The story, "Gelatinized" is about mothers and food. It begins with Claire attempting to dispose of a week's worth of gelatin, left there by a foster mother with her own set of issues. It works into an evaluation of three moms who all let down their kids in some way. When I looked for a photo to go with the story, I found a stock photo of gelatin. It ties in with the story content. That's good, right? Well, sort of. Here's the thing: I don't like looking at a picture of gelatin. I don't care if it mirrors Claire's own revulsion. I just couldn't stand the picture. This morning I had to replace it. I grabbed one of my own photos and retouched it to give it a surreal-gelatin feel. At least that's what I tell myself I did. I like the story so much better after replacing the picture. Here are the two pictures: first the gelatin and then the replacement.
Also influencing me: I'm taking this photography course from Vivienne McMaster. The focus is self-portraiture. Why? Because writing and blogging and social networking are all tied together and authors need to get more comfortable with that fact. Most of us are not excited about seeing pictures of ourselves or hearing our recorded voices. But you know what? We so need to get over that. Readers want to know we're real. I even think they have a right to know we're real. We're asking them to read our stories---to go inside our heads for the duration---and I'm okay with the fact that a picture contributes to that trust.
I'm less okay with turning that abstract notion into a mandate that I post pictures of myself. No. No. I was talking about other people! Not me.
So I'm taking this course. And I'm snapping lots of pictures. And I'm even having fun. Here are a couple photos from the first week:
So what do you think? How are you experiencing the visual in your own creative life?