Everything I Needed to Know about Writing, I Learned from My Camera By Barbara Bell

At the age of five, I was handed a camera and allowed to take a family portrait in front of our new house. I was thrilled at the magic of pushing a button, hearing a whirring sound, and the forthcoming result. Photographs brought the cliché to life, and I began to look for those thousand words everyone spoke of. I felt if I could find the right words, it would be as magnificent as the warm sunset or the smiling family that I had captured via camera.

In putting my photographs out into the world, I found that writing went hand-in-hand with it. I had to define who I was and what my art meant. I had to instruct others on how to achieve similar results. Quite frankly, I was thrilled. My dream job would combine writing and photography. I wanted to talk to people about having their picture taken and find out what was important to them. What ensued allowed me to pursue writing and photography as their own entities, sometimes allowing them to combine.

I wanted to photograph the people who defined a community, no matter how small or private. I wanted to detail their lives in an intimate way. What are their issues? What are their aspirations? I used the same principles for writing that allowed me to understand the composition of a good photograph. I needed to have the right light (perspective) and the right way to capture the light (how to say it), but most importantly I had to obey the law of averages.

It takes people nine times to see my photographs before they decide to purchase one. The law of averages has never let me down. The more people that see a piece, the better the chances of someone accepting it for their home (publication). I have never been happier than when I’ve met those that appreciate fine art or a refined piece of writing.

My first article, Private Busses for a Public School, was for a local weekly in Savannah, GA outlining the issues surrounding privatization of the school busses. How safe were children upon leaving home until they arrived on school grounds? You’d be amazed at the answer.

Following that, I have written for the San Mateo County Times in California regarding other people, places, and things that define the community. Shelters, reading programs, an after school art program, and elderly housing are just some of the pieces I have captured in words, as well as in my photographs.

Find your passion. Find what moves you and write about that. Capture the essence of a person, place, or thing. Compose your shot, check your lighting, and fire away.

Writing is an art form. Learn it, perfect it, but don’t hide it away. The more people who see your proposed ideas, the more chance you have of being published.

Barbara Bell, a former first grade teacher, is set to write her heart out and take photographs of these adventures. Having been published from coast to coast, she finds that photography and writing are like siblings in a creative family. They both argue for attention, but all arguments are off when she combines the two.

She has established Barbara Bell Photography to create photographs to inspire families to share memories. She is an established member of Professional Photographers of America and is certified to photograph children with special needs via Special Kids Photography of America.