Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sorry. I have a new camera.

Dog in "macro mode"
It's all about the nose (and whiskers)

For some much lovelier photographs, you've got to see the sunset over snow pictures that Jackie Buck has posted. Go ahead. Go look, be inspired, and come back. I'll be here...or fiddling with my camera close by.

I appreciate evocative photographs because they show so clearly that what we see is what we choose to see. Photographs combine real information with a deliberately selected, creative presentation, and it's hard to avoid thinking about how we frame our world. What do we leave out? Do we focus on the same subjects, over and over? What merits a close-up? Can we consciously pull back and look at a problem panoramically? How does the camera in our heads document or distort our path from sunrise to sunset each day?

They're taking about a similar topic over at I.N.K. today, only it's real subjects creatively presented as poetry. Laura Salas had a recent post about this, too, when she reviewed Diane Siebert's poetry nonfiction book, Cave. She likes the book, praising its "gorgeous language and lovely rhythm," but wonders if "poetic nonfiction would be difficult to categorize/sell because it's not the most efficient way to relate facts."

That made me consider what information I want my poems and my fiction to convey. I've often said that I would make the world's worst robbery witness. I wouldn't be able to tell the police what color shirt the thief was wearing. I wouldn't notice his shoes. I doubt I could draw his distinctive tattoo. (What tattoo???) Unless...

... it was critical to the story I was telling about him. Then, those facts would be useful! The tattoo? Oh, he had that done the day he decided that everyone had lied to him, and that he might as well be a SNAKE too. His shirt? An old gas station uniform shirt that belonged to his beloved grandfather. His shoes? Brand-spanking new. Because today was the day he was going to change his life. For the better.

So I don't know how I'd do at penning nonfiction poetry. Or making a documentary film. Or reporting a news story. I love a pertinent fact. But I love story more. I think creative nonfiction is a difficult, beautiful art form. One that I should leave to the professionals.

Besides, I have to figure out what all those buttons on my camera do. Do you think one of them might read the subject's mind? Now wouldn't that make a cool (and completely made-up) story?


  1. LOL! I sooo understand this post! I'm a novice camera fiddler too! I just put a bunch of pictures on my blog that I took in Florida. I took oodles of pictures, trying different buttons. ~sigh~ If only I could remember which button took which picture. :0)

    Have fun with your camera!

  2. The nose knows!

    I love beautiful photos, too -- and was always envious of those with the talent. I recently got a new camera, too, but so far can only manage the auto functions!

    I agree that creative nonfiction is a fascinating, wonderful art form. Today's INK post was fabulous! Looking forward to more of your photos :).

  3. Love the dog picture!
    I only got a camera last July and am totally addicted.
    Hooray for digital cameras.
    All best wishes

  4. I love a pertinent fact, but I love a story more. YES you ARE a gal after my own heart. I mean, I like pertinent facts as much as the next person but I don't mind making them up when I have to...

  5. You with a camera! You are scaring me girl. No wait - I want to see more!!! Are you on Flickr?

  6. No, not on Flickr. Maybe one day. I really bought my camera as a blog tool more than anything else. Wow. I can't believe I admitted that. Not only is blogging not making me money, it's COSTING me money! Oh, well. It's for juicing up my presentations, too, so that makes me feel a little less guilty.

  7. What a great photo!

    Creative nonfiction, I think I can do...academic nonfiction, apparently I'm pretty good at...but magazine articles? I struggled through my graduate class on magazine writing. Apparently "just the facts, ma'am" is not my style...


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