The Long Way Home

Fiction in Photography
December 8, 2009, 11:59 AM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , ,

by duane michals

“When you look at my photographs, you are looking into my mind.” Duane Michals 

Most of my photography explores how I can tell a fictional story with pictures instead of words. I went to school for writing and now I find that I take more photos than write fiction. I read a great deal, but writing doesn’t fulfill me in the ways that it once did. There is something about combining the physical, mental and technical acts of photography that allows me to lose myself creatively and not searching for the ‘right’ words. 

this photograph is my proof by duane michals

I’m drawn to the fantastic and surreal in fiction, which I can’t seem to do in my writing, but I can with photography. My writing is more autobiographical, and I don’t feel ready to go to those dark places now in my life, which writing will demand of me. But the idea that my photographs are reflections of the world in my head makes me feel less protected by my camera, more vulnerable when I share them in public. 

Since I started photography a few years ago, I’ve struggled with trying to make the two mediums work together. In a habit that I borrowed from journaling while writing stories, I keep photo notes. I sketch out ideas that  I have for shoots, write down places and props that I want to use. I keep track of exposure times, apertures, shutter speeds. Once I record the ideas, I have a starting point for a project that ends up surprising me in other ways. That’s what I love so much about photography – the unexpected that you can capture in  just a click, an illusion of simplicity. 

I am so in love with how Duane Michals achieves this. He scribbles text in the white border spaces of his photos, superimposes images on top of images, and uses long exposures that create dreamlike, sometimes frightening moments. He is not afraid to enter the dark places in his photography. I can only hope to be so brave in my work. 

the bogeyman

by duane michals


6 Comments so far
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I think these photos are amazing, but it’s funny. For me, it’s the opposite. I’m not ready to go there with my photography, but with my writing, it feels so much easier.


Comment by Parenthesized

Since I’ve written this post, I feel as if my photography has helped me push forward in writing quite a bit. What helps me is the online feedback I’ve received over the past few years. There is an immediacy to this kind of forum that I like, that I wish I had when I was struggling to write in my undergrad and grad years. I feel like since I jumped into photography relatively later in life, there is more freedom for me. Maybe I’ve reached a point I’m like, hell, who cares, I’m just going to do this thing and not worry so much.

Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!


Comment by Lisa

these are great. i’d love to see some of your writing in the white spaces of some of your photos!


Comment by sarah

I love to see text incorporated into images. Don’t you love the Bogeyman – don’t let it give you nightmares!


Comment by Lisa

I love the Bogeyman photos!


Comment by Jeff Schreckengost

What amazes me most about this series is how each one stands alone as a great photograph, but just takes my breath away in story context. It gives me shivers, I love it!


Comment by Lisa

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