This book came about due to the number of letters and emails Peter received after writing a short history of the changes he’d noticed while photographing Vermont between 1950 and 2013. “Vanishing Vermonters” and “Lifetime of Vermont People” are two books that should be on the coffee tables of every Vermonter.
Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief.
Looking through my photo stream, there is a caption about Thomas Jefferson smuggling seeds from Italy, which I want to research; a picture of a tree I want to identify, which I need to send to my father; the nutritional label from a seasoning that I want to re-create; and a man with a jungle of electrical cords in the coffee shop, whose picture I took because I wanted to write something about how our wireless lives are actually full of wires. Photography has changed not only the way that I make notes but also the way that I write. Like an endless series of prompts, the photographs are a record of half-formed ideas to which I hope to return.
Last year, I wrote something about a leech salesman whom I’d met in Istanbul. Weeks later, a friend who had been with me in Turkey wrote to say how impressed she was by the particulars that I had been able to recount. “Did you make detailed notes that day, or do you simply remember all this?” she asked. In fact, I had written the essay after studying photographs that I had taken of the man and his leeches. When she praised a specific bit of description, I had to admit that it hadn’t come about spontaneously—it was only after looking carefully at the photographs and trying out various metaphors that I settled on the idea that the leeches were gathered around the middle of the bottle like a belt.
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Digital photography, endless and inexpensive, has made us all into archivists. And the very act of taking a photograph, now so common, affects how we remember an event. A study by Linda Henkel, which appeared in Psychological Science last year, tried to measure the effect of photography on memory. “Point-and-Shoot Memories: The Influence of Taking Photos on Memory for a Museum Tour” documented Henkel’s findings after taking two groups of students through an art museum. The first group was instructed to observe works of art for thirty seconds, the other group observed the art for twenty seconds and then photographed it; the next day, both groups were surveyed about what they remembered.
Be positive: Write about what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing.
Whole writing exercises are devoted to photographs: choose a picture and create a narrative from its visual content; provide a photograph and ask a writer to use a person or an object in it as a character or prop for a story. Both fiction and nonfiction writers walk with this crutch, hobbling their way through writer’s block or memory loss. Photographs that may deaden the prose of a fiction writer might enliven the work of an essayist; the same photographs that enable the precision of the journalist might inspire the whimsy of a poet.
Be personal: Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Tell a story from your own life; this is not an opinion piece about social ideals. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.
After reading the poem countless times many different meanings come to mind, but one seems particularly clear: Emily Dickinson is writing about how death can feel, how it happens, and what can be expected from it.
The poem is also about battles and the deaths of hundreds of loyal soldiers and the experice of war the writter portrays is very different than lots of the other poems.
Some poets, like William Butler Yeats, did not experience the war by themselves yet still choose to write about it; others, like Wilfred Owen, were part of the dreadful war and were urged by their memories to start writing (Academy of American Poets).
Sylvia Plath writes about her own experiences dealing with her authoritarian father in “Daddy.” In this poem, Plath utilizes literary devices like allusion, child-like diction, and dualistic organization to communicate her bitterness in this theme of resentment and scorn.
When thinking about vantage point myself, two very different ideas of this characteristic of photography came to mind, which I will discuss and compare in this essay.