For photographer/web designer Max Elman and writer Christopher Hermelin, a picture is worth a thousand words. Literally. Their refreshing project, A Story and a Picture, offers a photograph from Max and a 1,000 word fiction story to go along with it from Christopher. Basically it's two creative phenoms who met in a college radio class, coming together to meld the fine arts of writing and photography, and we dig it! Be sure to visit A Story and a Picture and read some of the stories!
Tell us a little about yourselves and Story and a Picture. What inspired the project in the first place?
Christopher: Actually it was just about wanting to work together. We lived together, and we talked about different things, but he had this picture of a design someone did in the sand, and I wrote a story about it, and we realized it was something that was sustainable.
Max: Christopher and I had recently moved to San Francisco and I was in the middle of a photo-a-day project when I shot this photo overlooking Ocean Beach. We wanted to work together on a creative project and started from there. Although, strangely enough, that story never made it onto the site.
What do you find rewarding about melding writing and photography?
C: For me it's just the beauty of having something there that is the visual aid for the one thing I describe that can't be well described.
M: I love reading the stories Christopher comes up with and comparing it to both the actual background of the image and whatever story I created for myself when I shot it. Sometimes it partially lines up and other times it completely catches me off guard.
Christopher, how has the project affected your writing? Or what has working with the photography done for you creatively as a writer?
Little things, like realizing my reliance on "So" and "And then" and reductive adverbs like "fairly" and "mildly" all have to be culled when I am trying to get the stories to be exactly 1,000 words. In a larger sense, I have gotten better at realizing a moment that can expand or reduce to 1,000 words. It's too short and too long at the same time.
Max, how did you get into photography? And what is your gear of choice?
I borrowed my Mom's Canon way back when and kept going from there, starting with film but getting into digital fairly early on. I even had one of those Sony digital cameras that wrote directly to floppy disks. It was terrible. I'm now using a Canon 5D Mark III, usually with a wide / super wide lens. I recently picked up a 20mm manual focus Voigtlander that I've really enjoyed having as a walk-around lens.
Plans for the future?
C: We'd like to do a book and a better t-shirt line.
M: Shooting and posting more in general. We've also discussed the idea of a multi-photo series. And photos based on specific ideas that Christopher has in advance.
Any advice for anyone looking to expand what they do with their photos?
C: I think if you take pictures thinking about a fiction story that could be told with it, it might open up the narrative people find within your frame.
M: Try to set up an image that viewers can't help but think of a story behind it - whether you have an exact story in mind or want the viewer to come up with their own.