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Photography for Writers

April 25th, 2014

Photography for Writers by Simon Whaley - 72dpi

Writers should be photographers too. Not only can a camera help us capture images useful for research purposes, but we can also use those photos to sell our words.

My first camera was an Olympus Trip 35. It had one lens and all I had to do was point the lens at what I wanted to take, hold the camera steady, and press the shutter button. Then I had to manually wind on the film to the next frame. Yes, film! Remember that?

Of course, these days every camera is digital, which is brilliant, because it means it doesn’t cost us anything to take photos, unlike it did with film. What makes things better is that most people carry a camera with them at all times, although we tend to think of it as our mobile phone! Yet even these are capable of taking a publishable photo, these days.

Offering photos with our words can do two things: it can open up new markets (because some editors won’t accept work that is not accompanied by photographs), and it can increase our income. I recently sold an article to a woman’s weekly publication for which they offered £100 for 800 words. When I mentioned I had photos available, they increased the offer to £150. Many magazine letter pages now want photos too. And if you look at these photos, you’ll see they’re the sort of photos most of us post on social media websites, rather than something captured in a professional photographic studio! Target the right market and some magazines will pay up to £100 for a photo on a letter page.

Photos are also brilliant for generating article and short story ideas. I often sit and browse through my photos looking for ways to link them. I once spotted that after a wet week’s holiday in Wales I’d taken lots of photos of unusual roofs. There was a reconstructed Iron Age hut, the inside of the roof of St David’s Cathedral and the huge glass roof of the National Botanical Garden of Wales. Cue an article: Look Up At The Roofs of Wales!

I know many of my students worry about whether their photos are good enough, and are not sure about how to send them to an editor. Do you insert them into your document (No!), or do you send them as an email attachment? How should photos be captioned, and can you take photos from the Internet (No!)? So I’ve put as much useful information as I can into a handy little book called Photography for Writers (published on 28th March 2014 – in print and eBook format). And if you want some useful photography tips, why not pop along to the accompanying website which has lots of advice, examples and information?

It used to be said that a picture helped paint a thousand words, but writers should think of photos as helping them to sell a thousand words!

Photography for Writers

Publisher: Compass Points

ISBN: 978-1780999357

RRP: £ 7.99


Simon Whaley is a tutor for the Writers Bureau. He’s had hundreds of articles published in magazines as diverse as Country Walking, BBC Countryfile, Cheshire Life, The People’s Friend, Discover Britain and British Heritage, many of which used his photos too. He’s the bestselling author of One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human, and his latest book, Photography for Writers, follows the success of his previous book, The Positively Productive Writer. For more information about Simon visit his website

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